Is a Family Attorney Blaming the Judges for Toddler Leiliana Wright’s Death?
April 7, 2016
A Tarrant County family law attorney reached out to Protective Parents Coalition to set the record straight about what Judge Harris & Judge Haddock WOULD have known about Leiliana Wright’s case. Not only is the public outraged by Judge Harris’ response on Fox 4 New’s interview, but so are some local attorneys.
In the interview, Judge Harris states, “The associate judge did not hear a word of evidence and did not have one document admitted into evidence,” said Harris. “[She] based her recommendations solely on the representations of all of the parties and all of the attorneys of record.”
Fox 4 News also reports, “Harris says Quezada’s arrest record was not offered into evidence. He says he still has questions of his own.
Harris says there’s no court documentation of CPS’s involvement, and it’s unclear when it stepped in. Harris says it’s potentially one reason why some critical information didn’t come to light.
‘It certainly appears that there should have been a hearing in this case,’ said Harris. ‘It certainly appears the court should have been given evidence about the mother and her circumstances. I think it was tragic the court was never allowed to hear that evidence.’
Harris says he’s requested all of the information and material related to Leiliana’s case from CPS. He hopes to get that information by next week.”
A local family rebuts Judge Harris’ comments he and his associate judge had no evidence offered in their courts.
Quote from a Tarrant County family attorney*:
1. From the outset the court record included the affidavit by the Grandparents attached to the Original Petition. The files are sent up to the judges always the day before the hearing, and they are supposed to review the files BEFORE the scheduled hearings. (You have likely seen the court going through the file extensively during court proceedings to make sure things are in order and asking questions). The Judges had sufficient information in the file to give them notice that it was a high-risk case. CPS is even mentioned in the affidavit. See FULL Petition for Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship filed by paternal grandparents.
2. The Judge can require the parties to appear before them with their proposed agreed order and probe further before electing to sign the agreed order. It clearly states in all prepared Orders that “The Court Finds that the following orders are in the best interests of the child”, regardless of the parties agreements. Further, the Judge can always call a hearing such as those to ascertain the status of the case as was done in the Wright case. In fact, the parties appeared at a Status Hearing ordered by the Court before Judge Haddock where the contested issues in this case were to be discussed. Again, Judge Haddock would have had the file before her and all filings while she conducted the status conference.
3. The scribbled out Associate Judges Report –Agreed TOs [temporary orders] in this case is weird enough so that a judge should have noticed upon signing that this is an odd agreement and checked the file for the case and called them up.
4. This case was in front of a judge numerous times, including:
(a) having Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Orders presented and signed prior to service on the killer mom. The judges would have read that affidavit in order to approve these Orders.
(b) presenting and having Orders for Alternative Service signed;
(c) Judge Haddock ordering drug testing for the dad and killer mom; and
(d) according to the final Order, the killer mom and the grandmother appeared at the prove-up in person in front of [District Judge] Harris. THE ENTIRE FILE WAS IN THE HANDS OF THE JUDGE AT EACH OF THESE OCCASSIONS AND RIGHT UNDER THEIR NOSE. IF THEY DID NOT LOOK THROUGH IT THEY FAILED TO OBSERVE PROTOCOL AND EXERCISE DUE CARE. This includes the day that the parties agreed to waive a hearing and enter the agreed Temporary Orders. The judges had sufficient information in the record to challenge and should have challenged the parties and the attorneys in this case on these arrangements for the child.
5. The Affidavit references CPS. If CPS had a case open on this, they should have been consulted. Again, the Judge should have seen the reference to CPS in the file.
6. The attorneys should have engaged the court more fully. Apparently the grandparents’ attorney was afraid they would be punished somehow by [Associate Judge] Haddock if they pushed a hearing for primary custody. This is a very reasonable fear on his part given how notoriously abusive [District Judge] Harris and [Associate Judge] Haddock are. There is a culture of intimidation at the family court and many attorneys & parties know that they will be abused if they go before a certain judge, get a punitive ruling, or get slammed with ad litems and costs. That’s all. This is a big one and I don’t like hearing [District Judge] Harris act like they were clueless. As a matter of record they were not.
The bottom line is this. There was sufficient information in the court file to give the court notice that there was a high risk situation here. All they had to do is look at the file when they had it, which was frequently in this case. They had the authority to and should have raised the obvious concerns. The attorney also shares some fault for not fighting hard enough for this child. AGAIN, the reason he wasn’t fighting is he was afraid of these judges, which is unacceptable. He was understandably worried about his client being punished and abused if he fought and that is the fault of the judges for fostering a culture of intimidation instead of doing their jobs.
Really sickening case.”
* (Attorney name confidential due to fear of retaliation)
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