(This story is from the September 25, 2013 edition on The Mongoose).
A prior issue of this newsletter discussed Judge Denise Pratt’s actions in a post-judgment enforcement and clarifi-cation matter in the Messier case, No. 2009-45158. Those actions included the suspicious dating of the order Judge Pratt signed and the generous award of attorney’s fees to lawyer Bobby Newman. Click here to read that earlier story in which it appeared Pratt either intentionally or carelessly “misdated” the judgment. She did after all, hand date that order with a date that was well prior to the dates of e-mails from her coordinator stating she had not yet addressed the proposed order. That earlier article cited the Texas Penal Code, Sec. 37.10, which states in part:
Sec. 37.10. TAMPERING WITH GOVERNMENTAL RECORD. (a) A person commits an offense if he:(1) knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, a governmental record;
Pratt’s ruling in favor of Newman’s client in the Messier case is now on appeal. On September 12, 2013, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals ordered Judge Pratt to issue findings of fact and conclusions of law, which had been timely requested but never signed. The Court of Appeals abated the appeal and ordered Pratt to do her job. The very next day, September 13, according to the District Clerk web site, Judge Pratt signed findings which had been drafted and submitted by Mr. Newman. However, the actual document signed by Pratt is seemingly “misdated” again and bears the date of August 19. This time the date on the order is stamped rather than handwritten, but Judge Pratt dates her own orders. Click here to read the Appellant’s Motion filed in response to these “misdated” findings which describes the highly suspicious sequence of events.
How likely is it that in the same case, Pratt again accidentally misdated a key order that effects the appellant’s chances to overturn her? Why would the clerks type into the system that Pratt signed the findings on September 13 if she had really signed the findings a month ealier? Given that the court of appeals issued its ruling on September 12, isn’t it more likely that Pratt actually pulled the findings out of the stack of papers on her desk or in her car in response to the court of appeals order and signed the findings on the 13th as the clerks said?
Does anyone think that the two excellent appellate attorneys in this case, Sallee Smyth and Pamela George, could not have figured out whether findings had been filed before a motion to abate for lack of findings was filed with the court of appeals?
Pratt has now made things worse for herself by apparently sending a letter on her court letterhead directly to the court of appeals, without apparently sending a copy to the appellate counsel. Click here to see this highly unusual letter dated September 19 in which Pratt makes clear she signed the findings before the motion to make her do so was filed with the court of appeals. A few comments about this letter:
- A trial judge who is being appealed does not write the court of appeals directly or file findings of fact herself. The judge signs the findings and the clerk prepares a supplemental record which the clerk files with the court of appeals.
- Nothing is supposed to be sent to the court of appeals about a case unless it is sent to all counsel of record with a proper certificate of service.
- Even this letter is “misdated” since it has a fax date on the top of 9/20/2013 but the body of the letter had the date of September 19, 2013. It is almost as if Pratt wants it to appear that she wrote this letter before Mr. Messier filed a motion in the court of appeals about the suspicious dating of the findings of fact. Again, it at least strongly appears that Pratt plays around with the date to make it look like she did her job in a timely fashion before attorneys com- plained or the court of appeals told her what to do.
It now appears that Pratt is saying she really did sign the findings on August 19 but either Pratt forgot to give the findings to her clerks or an innocent clerk is about be “thrown under the bus” and blamed for not timely entering the findings into the computer system. Assuming the clerks properly did their jobs, either Pratt is grossly incompetent or out to sabotage Mr. Messier’s appeal or she committed the crime of tampering with a government record. I personally hope it is just incompetence and not venal or criminal behavior, but the evidence is not in Judge Pratt’s favor. I am guessing the clerk involved will testify she entered the findings into the system as soon as she received them from the judge.
I intend to file a criminal complaint with the District Attorney about this backdating of court orders by Judge Pratt and they can investigate and interview clerks and attorneys and review files to see if a crime was committed.
Attorneys with evidence of other orders backdated or “misdated” by Judge Pratt should contact me.
I hope Pratt reads the article in this newsletter about the downfall of Judge Dupuy and realizes it all started with a simple complaint I filed with the District Attorney about that judge’s misuse of office.