I am a divorce lawyer now, but once I was a young father battling for custody of my two children. I still can feel the worry and dread such a court case creates. It seems to the parents that everything important to them in the universe is at stake. Parents in such situations feel helpless because so much rides on the lawyers and the judge and jury. No matter who "wins" or loses in a child custody case, both parents should at least leave the courthouse feeling they were treated fairly and that neither side had some sort of inside connection or political advantage. Lawyers and judges who allow it to appear that political clout is influencing a case are damaging the integrity and stability of the justice system we all work and believe in. I have spent many hours on this story and I have tried to be as accurate and fair as possible. I will publish any responses from those involved if they feel their side of the story needs to be told differently than what I have written. Greg ... Read More >
It is Not Too Late To Buy Judge Franklin (a wedding gift)
There is still time to buy a wedding gift for Judge Alicia Franklin before her April 4 wedding. Whether you are motivated out of friendship or more practical purposes, Franklin made it very easy for you to buy her a gift on-line. Until Tuesday, anyone on the planet was able to see her Honeymoon Pixie site and quickly order her gifts for her honeymoon. Suddenly, after a very critical article was posted on the Republican blog Big Jolly about this unseemly situation, the links disappeared. Then, the site required a password then within hours the public could again see the couple's gift wish list and buy them gifts. Try clicking this link to possibly see it for yourself. A Google search for "Alicia Franklin Doug York" pulls up this gift registry website and several others. Here is part of what you were able to see until this week about the Franklin - York wedding: Judge Franklin and Mr. York are also registered on a variety of sites for gifts, including The Knot and ... Read More >
Nepotism in the Courtroom?
The vast majority of the stories in The Mongoose newsletter which criticized judges asked (or could have included) these questions: • What the hell were they thinking? • Surely, they realized that does not pass the “ethical smell test?” • Didn’t they think someone would get the word out and this would look really, really bad? These questions certainly must be asked of any judge who allows her fiancé or spouse or his Associate Judge’s spouse to accept or handle cases pending in his or her court. There is no doubt it is improper for an elected judge’s spouse to be allowed to represent clients in that judge’s court, as that is grounds for disqualification. It is just as improper for a judge’s spouse to sign up cases already pending in his wife’s court and then use his wife’s position as reason to have the case transferred to another court. That amounts to reverse venue shopping and it creates a market for those who want out of a particular judge’s court to hire ... Read More >
My Letter to the District Attorney About Gary Polland
Reprinted from the November 14, 2014 Mongoose newsletter. Now that the election is over, I have written District Attorney Devon Anderson's Public Integrity Unit about Gary Polland. Similar letters send by me in the past led to the indictment of Judge Dupuy and the forced resignation of Judge Pratt. The actions of Mr. Polland are particularly important because of his influence with judges as the former Republican Party Chair, one of the "Big Three Endorsers" who dominate local GOP primaries and as a Houston television personality (on Channel 8 at least). This is what I wrote to the D.A.: I attach documents relating to attorney Gary Polland and what I contend are false pay vouchers he submitted to the county for work he did as a lawyer appointed on CPS cases. I believe that the crime of tampering with a government record may have been committed. I am providing you: 1. A legal article that establishes that a court appointed ad litem in a CPS case cannot bill the ... Read More >
The “No Shame, No Consequences” Power Trip
Reprinted from the October 23, 2014 Mongoose newsletter. Attorney Doug York is taking cases in the court where his fiance, Judge Alicia Franklin, presides. If you want a case out of the 311th, York is the attorney to hire. Both York and Franklin should have enough sense and ethics to realize that York should simply not accept cases that are already pending in the 311th, especially those cases where Franklin has already heard something or where there is already a hearing set. Franklin should not automatically recuse herself in cases where York allows himself to be hired knowing the case is in his wife-to-be's court. In Cause No. 2004-02532, Sheikh v Sheikh, a final divorce decree was entered in the 311th in March 2005. The ex-wife's attorney, Scott Boyd requested a writ of execution on July 18, 2014 to try to collect on the 2005 divorce judgment. In September 2014, a Fort Bend Constable seized a house belonging to the ex-husband worth about $152,000. The ex-husband hired a ... Read More >
Polland Reads the Mongoose!
Reprinted from the October 23, 2014 Mongoose. Gary Polland at least reads The Mongoose. Polland once almost always billed 5.0 hours for every single home visit that someone in his office did. Now, after I reported that odd fact, Polland has started billing in less round, less easy to question amounts. In Cause No. 2014-41117, Polland submitted an invoice to Judge Lombardino claiming that Polland spent 4.2 hours on August 29, 2014 for a home visit with the mother and to prepare a report. The attorney for the mother e-mailed me to say: Pollard did visit with my client on August 29, 2014 (Friday) from about 4:45 to about 5:15 p.m. [30 minutes total] .... I have a tape recording of the home visit.... The drive according to MapQuest (59 to 45 south. Freeway miles) from Polland's office to my client's home is 8.12 miles -- about 11 minutes. Pollard billed 4.2 hours for 8/29/2014 --that is impossible. ..... Gary's report [on the home visit] was about two pages long and he had ... Read More >
Tampering with a Government Record
A Texas Parole Commissioner was just indicted for tampering with a government record because she allegedly made false entries in five parole reports. Click here to read a news story about this indictment. If it can happen in Hunstville when prison inmates are the victims, it should happen in Harris County when all tax payers and the integrity of our justice system are the victims. ... Read More >
Franklin Resorts to the “Everyone Is Doing It” Defense
Reprinted from the October 7, 2014 Mongoose newsletter. I filed a criminal complaint against Judge Alicia Franklin and she is not saying "I didn't do it." Instead, she defends herself by saying,"Everybody does it." A Houston Chronicle article of September 21 started this way:A prominent line of defense has emerged for a newly appointed family court judge accused this month of false billing when she was working as a court-appointed lawyer representing abused children: Everybody does it. District Court Judge Alicia Franklin, the subject of a criminal complaint alleging she broke the law by billing for more than 24 hours of work in a single day as a court-appointed lawyer in Child Protective Services cases, has explained the high hours by saying she was billing for work done by associates and support staff. Click here to read the entire article, which also includes these quotes: "It [the statute on payment of CPS ad litem fees] sure does imply that it has to be ... Read More >
How Gary Polland Earns Million$ on CPS Appointments
Gary Polland was able to earn over $1.9 million in court appointments since 2010 using this simple strategy: get appointed a LOT and bill a LOT of hours every day. Polland's political clout in Republican primaries prompted Judges Devlin, Phillips, Schneider, Pratt, Millard and Lombardino to appoint Polland hundreds of times. Over 90% of Polland's apointments came from those judges. Once Polland got the appointments, he often billed more hours than a mere mortal could possibly work in a day. The following chart summarizes Polland's work on October 1, 2013. The hours Polland billed for CPS home visits are shown in one column and all other "out of court" hours he billed for that day are in the next column. Appointed attorneys are paid flat rates for court appearances and, on this day, Polland only had one court appearance. On this one day, Gary Polland billed for 30 hours of lawyer work and for one juvenile court appearance. Click here to see the actual invoices ... Read More >
Who Gets to Use the Courthouse for Paid Mediations?
Reprinted from the October 7, 2014 Mongoose newsletter. It would not seem proper for a for-profit flea market to operate in the rotunda of the court of appeals building or a used car lot to be run at the top level of the county parking garage. How then could it possibly be right for an attorney to be allowed to use a courtroom for private, paid mediations? How much influence and stroke would a lawyer have to be able to openly schedule mediations in a courtroom? Cause No. 2001-48545 was a child custody modification suit. The parties mediated temporary orders with Mary Ellen Hicks. Judge Lisa Millard appointed Gary Polland to be mediator without a request from either party or the amicus once the case was set for a jury trial. Polland eventually wrote the parties to schedule the mediation in a courtroom of the Juvenile Courthouse. Polland charged $650 per party for the half day mediation. One party and attorney were put in the in the main ... Read More >
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