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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
Polland CPS Vouchers Reveal Amazing Billing
Reprinted from the September 16, 2014 Mongoose newsletter. I finally received the pay vouchers for just three months of billing by Gary Polland I am paying to have these vouchers analyzed (as I did with Alicia Franklin), but here is one startling finding I quickly made by looking through these vouchers: Gary Polland billed Harris County for four home visits totaling 19 hours on one single day and the gullible or complicit judges approved his vouchers and the county apparently paid him. In CPS cases, the law requires the attorney ad litem appointed to represent the child to personally visit the child at home before each court appearance. Polland, who almost always bills exactly 5.0 hours for "travel to and conduct home visit; draft report with pictures" billed the following for one day, August 10, 2013: Case No. 2013-04442J, 313th Juvenile District Court - 5.0 hours for a home visit (invoice submitted 8/15/13)(note the duplicate, "corrected" invoice also submitted). Case ... Read More >
Is False Billing on CPS Cases a Crime?
Reprinted from the September 16, 2014 Mongoose newsletter. There is no doubt that in some instances, a lawyer who falsely bills the county for court appointed work can be convicted and sent to prison. Last week, I was in an outlying county discussing this CPS billing scandal with some very good criminal attorneys. They were all amazed by the huge fees that are awarded to CPS attorneys in Harris County and they all agreed that what Alicia Franklin had done when she was billing as a CPS attorney was clearly totally wrong. Their debate was on the odds that Franklin could be convicted of a crime. They noted that the CPS pay vouchers do not specifically say that the attorney submitting the voucher was stating "under penalty of perjury" that only she did the work billed ... Read More >
“The Nail in the Coffin” for Attorneys Falsely Billing Harris County on CPS Cases
Reprinted from the September 16, 2014 Mongoose newsletter. This is perhaps the most important development in the CPS billing scandal reported in this newsletter because the false billers were claiming that there was nothing wrong with the appointed attorney billing for work done by another lawyer. A wise probate judge in Austin who reads The Mongoose e-mailed me about an appellate case that holds exactly what I have been saying: a lawyer appointed by a judge as an ad litem cannot and should not bill for work done by other attorneys (except in unusual circumstances and then only after informing the court). Let's see these "CPS appointment law firms" and mega-billers explain this: When a guardian ad litem is appointed, the trial court intends that appointed attorney to personally protect the minor's interests and to act as an officer of the court. Accordingly, it is generally not anticipated or reasonable for a guardian ad litem to delegate his ad litem responsibilities to ... Read More >
Enos Schools County Auditor and Harangues County Judge Emmett
This is a reprint from the September 3, 2014 Mongoose newsletter. Lawyers are stealing tax payer dollars and the system in place at Harris County allows it. Here are the problems: 1. A paper based system from the 1950's is still in use. Lawyers fill out the pay vouchers by hand, the judges sign the vouchers and then they go to the County Auditor, who pays the amounts approved by the judges, no questions asked. 2. A judge, who may approve dozens of pay vouchers a week, cannot see what an attorney is billing in other cases in that same court or in other courts. 3. No one until me ever took a mass of vouchers from one single attorney and extracted the fees charged on all cases for a particular day to see what the attorney is billing the county for on that day. This is how Alicia Franklin got busted billing 23.5 hours in one day. If I can "audit" vouchers, why can't the County Auditor? 4. The real problem is that no one has any incentive to closely monitor the CPS pay ... Read More >
I Make It Really Easy For Polland to Give Me His Side of the Story
Reprinted from the August 26, 2014 Mongoose newsletter. Gary Polland is a very busy man. He barely has time for his political work, all of his court appearances, home visits I am so sure he personally performs, meetings with investment bankers, etc. So, I sent Polland a fax that should make it easier for him to reply to my questions quickly and accurately, so that his side of the story can be shared with you: Mr. Polland, I know you are a very busy man and perhaps you lack the time to respond to my questions about the work you have done as an appointed attorney ad litem in CPS cases. I am therefore providing you the following answers to my questions so that you can take just a few seconds to check the appropriate responses and fax your answers back to me. I truly do want to be fair to you and deal with facts instead of rumor or supposition. I know there are almost always two sides to every story and I really want to get your side of this story and share it with my many ... Read More >