The Houston Chronicle reports that Denise Pratt, the formerly embattled Family District Judge accused of tampering time records, has dismissed nearly 300 cases since being no-billed by a Grand Jury last month. As the Chronicle notes, the rules of Civil Procedure require a Judge to hold dismissal hearing, which allegedly did not occur. The dismissals, one may argue, were in apparent retaliation for taking positions against Judge Pratt when she was being investigated.
For example, Galveston attorney Greg Enos’ firm had at least three cases before Judge Pratt’s court that were dismissed without reason. Other lawyers who signed an open letter asking for Judge Pratt’s resignation saw a similar fate. Pratt’s court, in turn, blamed these misgivings on a new e-file system being employed by the county. As the Chronicle again notes, however, the District Clerk’s office said this should have nothing to do with any cases being dismissed, and it surely does not excuse a Judge from following the standard procedure of notice.
Some of the cases she dismissed were even those she had been recused involuntarily therefrom. Perhaps this was the biggest blunder she committed. David Farr, the Administrative Judge for Harris County Family District Courts, noted that she was completely out of line in taking this action.
Maybe this is enough for the Grand Jury to be empaneled against her once more, but that might be just too quixotic of a suggestion. At this point, those who do not approve of Judge Pratt must take their grievances to the ballot box. Elections have consequences, after all.
Four qualified Republicans signed up to run against Judge Pratt in the primary, all of which would make better jurists. However, as Big Jolly Politics notes, some Republicans plan on sticking with the incumbent, including the ever-powerful Steven Hotze. Additionally, a woman named Sherri Cothrun has signed up to be the Democratic nominee for this bench. I really like Cothrun, she appears to be a well-qualified and intelligent candidate, and I definitely plan on voting for her in November.