Complaint filed against Judge Franklin

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The Houston Chronicle reports that Greg Enos, the prominent attorney who was behind a series of criminal complaints that ultimately brought down Family District Judge Denise Pratt, has now filed yet another complaint against her successor. Judge Alicia Franklin, who defeated Pratt in a Republican primary after she abruptly resigned, was appointed by Governor Rick Perry in June to fill out the remainder of Pratt’s term. She is also the Republican candidate for a full four-year term in the post this November, where she faces Sherri Cothrun, an attorney who is her Democratic opponent.

Enos alleges that Franklin abused her power as a court-appointed attorney on CPS related cases, as she did extensively prior to her assuming judicial office. Enos’ detailed each and every one of his allegations in somewhat meticulous detail in his intermittent newsletter, The Mongoose. I cannot state strongly enough have vehemently I urge you to read the full newsletter and the explanation for the allegations made in painstaking detail.

First, Enos accuses Franklin of billing exorbitant hours for individual days, often much more than 10 hours and –on one occasion– 23.5 hours. Typically, billings for ad litem appointments such as this one exclude what is called an “administrative task,” such as driving, postal work, etc. Only legal work should ostensibly be included.

Second, Franklin allegedly charged for work after she became a Judge, which –if true– would be a huge violation of State law and ethical codes. Third, when she received one of these neutral appointments, she allegedly received a campaign contribution from one of the interested parties.

Fourth, as I explained above, she allegedly billed for many –as Enos put it– “non-lawyer” tasks, such as going to the post office, electronically filing documents or merely printing the documents. Lastly, Enos found an issue with Franklin adorning her campaign placards with pleas to be “re-elected,” even though she is merely the appointed incumbent. After checking with the relevant authorities at the Commission on Judicial Conflict, Enos confirmed that it would be an ethical violation to do so.

Franklin has reportedly retained a PR firm, Begala/McGarth, and has been somewhat silent on this issue to all involved. Last month, Franklin defended her billing practices as a collaborative total number of hours which included work accrued by her associates. Of course, according to the law, allowing others’ work to be included within your ad litem billing is prohibited as well. Franklin also defended the pay vouchers submitted while she was a Judge as work that had occurred before her appointment. Of course, the Chronicle notes that some of the pay vouchers show work apparently done after she was sworn-in.

My friend Greg at Rhymes with Right defended Franklin somewhat vigorously, employing the same strategy of work done by associates. He also goes further in stating that she received a phone call to be appointed rather hastily, and her associates needed time to close down shop, explaining the post-Judge hours billed. I suppose that is logical, but Franklin explicitly chose not to invoke it when confronted on the billings made while she was on the bench. Additionally, given that the incumbent had resigned and Franklin had won the Republican primary, was anyone actually surprised by her appointment? It was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

All in all, I think there is enough evidence for the District Attorney’s office to begin an investigation. Beyond that, I don’t think I know enough about the situation one way or another. Enos did reveal that much of the dirt he obtained occurred as a result of Sherri Cothrun, the Democrat in the race. Cothrun, for what its worth, recent brought Burt Levine onto her campaign. Levine, of course, formerly had extensive ties to Denise Pratt.

Additionally, it should be noted that Cothrun’s law partner, Rita Lucido, who you may recognize as the Democratic candidate for the 17th Senate District, was the attorney that represented the man who allegedly donated to Franklin in the aforementioned case. The one where the donator was an interested party and Franklin was a neutral court-appointee.

If you thought The Mongoose‘s involvement at the courthouse was done, think again!

Big Jolly Politics and Off the Kuff have more.

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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’!

The Pratt saga goes on…

The Houston Chronicle reports that the saga involving now-former Family District Judge Denise Pratt may continue for some time, despite her recent resignation. As both Kiah Collier (who generally writes all pertinent Chronicle articles on this topic) and myself have previously noted, Pratt resigned from office and announced she would immediately suspend her re-election efforts last Friday. In the March primary, Pratt garnered a bare plurality against four challengers, and advanced into a runoff with Alicia Franklin.

Among the many things Pratt has been accused of are meddling with court documents by backdating orders as well as unilaterally dismissing nearly a thousand pending cases with no just cause, in some cases allegedly in retaliation against her political enemies. Greg Enos, a Galveston county attorney and publisher of The Mongoose (Editorial note: Remember, Greg: TEXPATE ≠ GOP blog), has been behind at least three complaints against Pratt, which twice prompted the Harris County District Attorney’s office to investigate the former Judge. Possibly facing indictment last week, Pratt left office in shame. Jubilant, Republicans proclaimed that Franklin would be appointed by Perry to serve out the remainder of the term, win the primary and get re-elected come November (Pratt occupied a DISTRICT Court, meaning the Governor and not the County fills vacancies). The only problem with this is that Pratt has demonstrated she is not going softly into the night.

Click here to see why Pratt may still be in it!

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!

In re Cruz’s endorsements

The Associated Press reports that Senator Ted Cruz, the quintessential Tea Party darling, has pointedly refused to explicitly endorse John Cornyn for re-election, or any other Senator for that matter. Cornyn, of course, faces strong tea party blowback for allegedly being insufficiently conservative.  His half-dozen or so challengers in the Republican primary look as though they may force him into a runoff election, something Cornyn himself has even admitted has a reasonable chance of occurring.

The common denominator among many, if not most, of these candidates is that Cornyn has been disloyal to Cruz. They point to differing ideologues governing both the government shutdown and the debt ceiling showdown. Cornyn, as the number two Republican in the Senate, had to eventually be one of the grown-ups in the room on both occasions, and voted to both reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Neither or which were done with any preconditions, placing him squarely opposed to Cruz and in the cross-hairs of the Tea Party.

Oddly enough, Cruz’s comments consciously did not share any love for Congressman Steve Stockman –Cornyn’s biggest challenger– either. In fact, most respected Tea Party groups have publicly been distancing themselves from Stockman in recent days, many going as far as to “publicly disavow” him. Accordingly, it look like many individuals who otherwise have beefs with Cornyn would vote for him nonetheless in a hypothetical runoff mathcup against Stockman. This, even though many may have very well supported a third or fourth candidate –Dwayne Stovall, for example– in the preliminary primary.

Click here to read more about Cruz!

Enos v. Pratt, Part III

We have all heard this story before, right? Back in October, prominent Galveston county attorney Greg Enos filed a major complaint against Judge Denise Pratt, a local Republican representing the 311th District Court (Family cases). The complaint alleged that Judge Pratt altered time stamps on documents and committed other wrongdoings that necessitated removal from the bench. By December, however, a grand jury no-billed her and the controversy seemed dead, for the time being. However, just a few days later, Judge Pratt dismissed literally hundreds of cases for no reason –many of which, the cases of the attorneys who had publicly berated her. This led Enos to file yet another complaint about Judge Pratt.

Today, the Houston Chronicle reports that Enos has filed the third one. This complaint pertains to a specific one of the recent cases (there were 631, to be exact) that Judge Pratt dismissed, specifically alleging she illegally backdated order, including in open court. This time, according to the Chronicle article, Enos alleges two individuals have signed sworn affidavits attesting to this fact. Judge Pratt, for her part, is throwing her clerks under the bus, as she has done in all the previous complaints, alleging they –and they alone– were the ones complicit in the errors.

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!