The Pratt scandal continues

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The scandal that lead to the downfall of former Family District Judge Denise Pratt now looks to have the capacity to negatively affect Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson. As the astute will recall, an attorney out of Galveston County by the name of Greg Enos, who last year was behind the scandal and eventual downfall of former Galveston County Court at Law Judge Christopher Dupuy, shepherded the complaints and eventual investigations into Pratt.

Pratt, who oversaw a broad array of family court matters, was accused of gross incompetence and misfeasance while in office. She allegedly deliberately backdated orders, unilaterally dismissed cases and covered up this negligence. The DA’s office investigated her once last year, but then no-billed her. After restarting the investigation earlier this year, Pratt promptly resigned and suspended her re-election campaign.

Now, the Houston Chronicle reports that this resignation was a direct quid-pro-quo for non-prosecution on the part of the DA’s office. Simply put, in exchange for Pratt’s voluntary removal from the judicial system, she would not face any further consequences. No justice for all the victims of Pratt’s terrible reign of incompetence and negligence.

Click here to read about Ogg’s statement, as well as Enos’!

Judge Pratt resigns

The Houston Chronicle reports that Denise Pratt, the Family District Judge in Harris County who brewed up no shortage of controversy over the past year, has resigned effective immediately and is suspending her campaign. Astute readers of this publication will remember that Pratt has undergone much scrutiny from myself and others for both allegedly backdating time-stamps in orders and unilaterally dismissing hundreds upon hundreds of ongoing cases. All of these have drew the ire of Greg Enos, a Galveston area attorney, who has lodged three complaints against Pratt that have been investigated by the District Attorney’s office (Editorial note: The last time we mentioned Enos, this publication was prominently featured in his newsletter, THE MONGOOSE, wherein it was described as a “Republican blog.” For the record, Texpatriate is a non-partisan publication, and the author of both the original post and this post, Noah M. Horwitz, is a registered Democrat).

Pratt’s website has now been reduced to simply a statement. In it, she wrote: “The relentless attacks by my political opponents have become a distraction to the work of the Court, and to the Republican Party in Harris County.  I cannot, in good conscience, allow it to continue. My goal has always been to serve the children and families of Harris County, but I won’t sacrifice my family’s well-being any longer to continue to serve as Judge.”

Click here to read more!

Judge Pratt gets new complaints

The Houston Chronicle reports that local attorney Greg Enos has lodged yet another complaint against the controversial Judge Denise Pratt. This time, the controversy revolves around her recent decision to dismiss dozens upon dozens of cases. Specifically, she dismissed a ton of classes involving lawyers who publicly criticized or opposed her in a previous complaint over alleged corruption.

Judge Pratt, a Republican who represents a Family District Court in Harris County, was accused of this most recent impropriety since she unilaterally dismissed cases without a prior hearing on the issue, in apparent violation of the rules of Civil Procedure. Additionally, she has allegedly dismissed some of these cases after being involuntarily recused therefrom. These issues could very easily lead to the empaneling of a new grand jury against Judge Pratt. Previously, a grand jury empaneled to investigate corruption allegations against her no-billed the Judge.

Click here to read more!

Judge Pratt berated by Bar Association

A few days ago, I noted that Denise Pratt, a Family District Court Judge in Harris County, had been accused of corruption. Specifically, the Republican judge has been accused of falsifying important records in order to issue late opinions.

Now, the Houston Chronicle reports that, in a recent evaluation of all Houston-area judges by the Houston Bar Association, Judge Pratt received the lowest marks –by far– of any jurist. In fact, her evaluation has more negative that, as one participant noted, anything he could recall in the last 40 years. Judge Pratt received overall disapproval of 79% of applicants, with 76% saying her “following the law” skills were especially poor and 80% saying likewise about issuing timely rulings. The marks were far lower than many other Judges with similar baggage, including Sharon “Killer” Keller of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The astute will recall from my article last week on the subject the original controversy was launched by Greg Enos, the Galveston-area attorney who brought down Christopher Dupuy. Speaking of Enos, the Houston Chronicle recently ran a profile on him. As I have said before, he is a high-profile Democrat who runs the influential Family Law newsletter “The Mongoose.”

To read more about how this factors into 2014, click here!

Judge Pratt accused of corruption

The Houston Chronicle reports that Denise Pratt, a family District Court judge, has been accused of falsifying records and issuing illegally retroactive rulings.

Pratt, a Republican first elected in 2010, is currently running for re-election in 2014 to the bench of the 311st District Court. Anthony Magdaleno is currently running against her in the Republican primary. I am unaware of any Democratic candidates, though I must admit I have not been keeping up with these elections recently.

The alleged impropriety is a serious offense that, if confirmed, could lead to her removal form office. The Chronicle article notes two individuals with pending cases in her court, where the Judge would issue opinions in May, for example, with the decision timestamped as the previous January. As they note:

“Marcia Zimmerman, a 30-year veteran family lawyer based in Clear Lake, said she resorted to filing a motion after waiting for months on a ruling from Pratt. When the ruling finally came in, she was surprised to see the date listed was months before she had filed her motion.

‘I don’t think any of us believed the ruling was actually made before the petition for writ of mandamus because, why would she rule and not tell anybody?’ Zimmerman said, noting that Pratt also missed two scheduled hearings.

Family lawyer Robert Clark said he had a similar experience, arguing a case in January and then waiting five months for a ruling from Pratt that the official court record now says was issued on Jan. 30, the day before the two-day trial actually ended.”

To read who is behind this complaint, click here!

Dupuy resigns

A couple of months ago, I chronicled the epic saga going on in Galveston over a County Court at Law Judge who is officially off-his-rockers. In short, this Judge, Christopher Dupuy, has been the host of lots of other issues. In short, I will quote some of what I said back in May:

An exhaustive summary of all of the controversies Dupuy has been involved in in the past roughly two years would be too onerous to detail at this time. Rather, there are three distinct issues currently affecting the Galveston Judge.

First, Dupuy was recently indicted and suspended without pay for eight crimes. These included corruption, oppression, abuse of power and retaliation. After the original arrest and indictment, Dupuy simply showed up for work like nothing had happened. It was only at that time that Dupuy was ordered by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct into official unpaid suspension.

Second, Dupuy has been historically quite erratic and possibly dangerous. A Chron article from February describes Susan Criss, another Galveston judge, fearing for her safety and the safety of her staff after frightening encounters with Dupuy. Judge Criss also claimed that Dupuy had posted inflammatory comments on his personal Facebook page, insinuating that he was carrying handguns “in a zipped pocket in his jacket” to the courthouse regularly.

Lastly, Dupuy has been involved in extensive family drama. During a recent court hearing of which Dupuy was a party to, rather than presiding over, Dupuy was alleged told his then-girlfriend that he was planning on killing his ex-wife and kidnapping his children and bringing them out of the country. FOX26 reports that this girlfriend, Tara Compton, plead the fifth when taking the stand, out of fear for her life. “I’m afraid something bad will come of this. I don’t want to end up having a bad accident after all of this. I fear what could happen to me,” the woman said. Dupuy also allegedly mailed a picture of a gun with a silencer on it to his ex-wife.

This guy is nuts. He was noted a few times to start laughing during court proceedings “when there did not appear to be anything humorous happening.” I had heard stories over the years of an absolutely psychotic lawyer my father once faced off against, but didn’t realize it was Dupuy until somewhat recently. I hope he can get kicked out of office sooner, rather than later, so that Galveston can reclaim some of their dignity.

Now, the Houston Chronicle reports that Dupuy has a reached a plea deal. He has pleaded guilty to abuse of office and perjury charges, and will be held in jail for a short amount of time. Following that, he will serve two years probation. If all goes well –which, if history is any indication, is a huge “if”– the blemishes will be cleared from his record. However, Dupuy, who has been suspended from the bench since the start of the summer, was forced to resign from office as part of the agreement.

Dupuy resigned today from office, ending a tumultuous 2 and 3/4 years in office.The Galveston County Commissioners’ Court will appoint a replacement until the regularly scheduled general election for the seat, in November of 2014.

Dupuy gets arrested…again

Christopher Dupuy, the Galveston judge who is [expletive deleted] nuts, is back in the news. According to this morning’s Houston Chronicle, the jurist was arrested yet again. Dupuy’s second indictment and arrest was a result of alleged abuse of official capacity. This occurred because Dupuy allegedly gave legal advice to an ex-girlfriend. The practice of law by a sitting judge is deemed an abuse of office.

Perhaps more humorous is that the Galveston County DA, when hearing of this morass, stated “Not only was he helping her out [illegally], but he gave her horrible legal advice that got her in trouble.” Dupuy’s advice was to simply ignore an order from the court on child support. The District Attorney is not prosecuting any of the claims against Dupuy, as there is a conflict of interest. Rather, the Attorney General’s office will be dealing with these matters.

Dupuy has done some strange things in the past, including threatening to murder his ex-wife and abduct their children. In fact, this woman the current controversy revolves around, Tara Compton, is the woman he allegedly confided in about his future murder plot. This woman isn’t all there, either, it seems.

For what it is worth, no one seems to be talking about what happens in the event of Dupuy’s removal. I called the Galveston County Clerk and found out that the removal hearing has been pushed back about a week. In the event of Dupuy’s removal, it would be the Galveston County Commissioner’s Court, not the Governor, who would appoint a replacement. This has caused some confusion, as just about everyone in the State is familiar that the Governor would appoint a new District Attorney. Let me explain.

All 254 counties in the State have their own county officers. This includes a County Judge, 4 Commissioners, a Clerk, a Sheriff, a Tax Assessor, an Attorney and a Treasurer. Additionally, they include at least ONE (1) County Court at Law. Sometimes, multiple positions are consolidated together. Then, there are Districts. Districts could overlap with many counties or just one county. Sometimes, there are multiple districts in just one county. Accordingly, each district has a Judge, a Clerk and an Attorney. Since the districts at least ostensibly represent larger areas than just a county, someone above the County level needed to fill vacancies. Hence, the Governor.

Lehmberg is the District Attorney, even though her district only includes Travis County. Dupuy, meanwhile, is a Judge for the County, not a District in Galveston County.