(This article appeared in the September 25, 2013 edition of my newsletter, The Mongoose)
On the local level, I support and socialize with many Republican elected officials. In the last election cycle, I hosted seven parties at my office for judges or judicial candidates — all were Republicans and all won. I contributed to and supported many other local Republican candidates. I speak several times a day with GOP candidates or elected officials (the incumbent judges I confer with ALL like and support The Mongoose). Republicans may disagree with me on national issues such as The Affordable Care Act, but it is clear that we totally agree on the following:
- Elected officials are public servants and they should work full time.
- Judges should know and follow the law.
- Judges should accurately date their orders not create the appearance of committing the crime of tampering with a government record.
- Judges must be respectful of the mothers and fathers who litigate in their courts and not waste everyone’s time and money.
- Judges should protect children and usually not allow known drug users to have primary care of young children.
- Judges and the government should usually respect the agreements and decisions made by parents, knowing that the government only has a limited ability to intrude into the rights of parents to raise their children.
The Republican problem with Denise Pratt is that she does not follow any of these precepts that every Tea Party activist, business owner, conservative Christian housewife and precinct chair would support.
I get Pratt stories literally every day, but here is a sadly typical story I was told in the parking garage last week:
The mother and father had reached agreement in their divorce case and the lawyers prepared temporary orders, which were signed and submitted to the court. The family was following their agreement and the parents and children liked what they were doing. Weeks went by and Pratt would not sign the orders. Finally, she had her staff tell the attorneys that Pratt refused to sign the agreed orders and she scheduled a hearing on temporary orders which neither side wanted. Both attorneys objected to any hearing because they said their clients were in total agreement and there was nothing to argue about. Yet, they were still ordered to appear before Judge Pratt. The hearing was set for 9:00 a.m. By 11:00, Judge Pratt had not appeared and finally the attorneys were told that the judge was not coming to work that day, so they were given a new hearing date. These working parents were charged over $1,000 each by the attorneys and got nothing for it because the judge decided to stay home, even though the judge insisted on the hearing, which these parents did not want or need.
What true Republican would think this was proper behavior for a judge?
The documented cases where Pratt allowed children to stay in the care of adults who had tested positive for illegal drugs would be hard to explain at any Republican gathering. Lawyers may have theories why Pratt is sometimes so tolerant of illegal drug usage, but her rulings would be really hard to defend on the campaign trail.
The appearance of favoritism to a small group of lawyers who make so much money in Pratt’s court would also not sit well with most Republicans I know.
The brutal truth is that no true Republican who follows the precepts of Ronald Reagan or the Tea Party can support Denise Pratt.
Maybe Pratt will say that I am a liberal Democrat who is attacking her for partisan political reasons. The problem with that argument is my track record of doing a lot for good Republican candidates and working so closely with elected Republicans in Galveston County. There is also the fact that I have given some Democratic judges a pretty hard time in this newsletter – just ask good Judge Yarbrough or former Associate Judge Radcliffe. More importantly, attorneys who are very clearly hard core Republicans are disgusted by Pratt and are now willing to stand up and oppose her.
My firm belief that a true patriot’s job is to question the government and hold elected officials accountable should make me eligible to join the Tea Party. My work as President of the Board of Interfaith Caring Ministries could very well make me acceptable to evangelical Christians. In short, I have plenty in common with even the most ardent Republican even if I have held membership in a union, the NAACP, the Sierra Club and the ACLU and was once proudly a convention delegate for Jesse Jackson (I was the burnt orange in the rainbow coalition).
A fair, efficient justice system that mostly lets parents make the decisions about their own children is not a partisan, political issue. It is something we all want and expect, whether we are Democrats or Republicans and regardless of our religious beliefs.
Most importantly, attorneys who want to do something about Judge Pratt should:
1. Write letters about the problems with Judge Pratt and mail them to these two men whose endorsements are so incredibly influential in the Republican primary:
Dr. Steve Hotze
Conservative Republicans of Texas
1E Greenway Plaza, Suite 225
Houston, Texas 77046
2. Be sure to participate in the Houston Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Poll (which can only be done on-line from September 25 through October 16) and accurately and fairly evaluate Judge Pratt so that the entire world can see what most attorneys think of her.
Here are directions on how to participate in the HBA Online Judicial Evaluation poll:
The Houston Bar Association’s online Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire will be launched tomorrow. The questionnaire allows members to evaluate the performance of city, county, state, and federal judges. An e-mail will be sent from Ballot Box to all members for whom the HBA has an individual email address. Please set your spam filter to allow the following: BallotBox@BallotBoxOnline.com.
The closing date and time for the questionnaire is 11:45 p.m. on October 16, 2013.
The email will be from: Houston Bar Assn Online Voting <HoustonBar@BallotBoxOnline.com.>
The Subject Line: BallotBox: New Poll ‘2013 HBA Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire’
Once you open your BallotBox e-mail, click on the link “Click here to vote.” It will take you to a login page. You will create a password of your choosing following the directions. (Please be sure to remember and make note of your password, as you will need it to access a saved questionnaire.) After you create your password, you will be taken straight to a Web page that summarizes the Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire.