Category Archive: Tarrant County

Oct 23 2014

CPS fights to reunite kids with mother but kids’ attorney supports foster parents

COURT WATCH REPORT OCTOBER 15, 2014

Associate District Court 325th in Tarrant County, Texas

CPS fights in court to do the right thing, but child’s ad litem fighting against reunification with mother

CPS-Tarrant

 

Two court watchers observed CPS argue to Judge Terri White, the biological mother is fit to care for her two children removed from her home 15 months ago and placed in a foster home.   CPS attorney, Melissa Paschall, called witnesses and reiterated CPS’ purpose is to reunify parents with their children.  The mother has completed all of her services,  is not accepting any welfare or government aid, is currently raising a 5 month old baby and is living with her parents in a nice four bedroom home.  
Last year, the father of the two children committed family violence and injured one of the children.  Luckily the child’s injury is not permanent, however the father was booked, charged, did time in jail  and currently is on probation.  Court watchers did not hear any testimony supporting why CPS took the children from the mother in the first place.  Court watchers have observed other victims of domestic violence lose their children in other cases too.

 

 

 

The children have been in foster care since June 2013.  The mother has taken many classes including:
1.  A drug program through CPS because she admitted to CPS that she had done drugs as one time in the past.
2.  Individual counseling sessions.
3.  Parenting classes.
4.  10 week FOCUS classes with NewDay Services.
5.  Attended drug and alcohol classes with Safe Haven because she tested positive for marijuana.
6.  Has assessments at the Recovery Resource Council in Fort Worth.

The mother’s  drug test results are negative, she has a job, a stable home with the support of her parents, no longer in a relationship with the abusive father of her children; so, what’s the problem?  The problem is the court appointed ad litem attorney representing the two children is objecting to the reunification.  Attorney Laurie Robinson objected constantly to any information offered to the court suggesting the mother was a positive role model.  The children are under the age of 5 and they have an attorney actively working to keep them in the foster care program.  Robinson’s focus to the court was who the father was of the 5 month old baby the mother has had since her children were removed last year.  The baby is not included in this suit, nor is Robinson representing the baby as the ad litem attorney.

The mother, who resides in Arlington, is only allowed a visit every 2 weeks in the Dallas CPS office.  This arrangement seems to be very inconvenient for the mother and her attorney, Sonya Carillo argued this point as well.  Arlington does not have public transportation and  on a couple of occasions the mother has missed visits with her kids due to problems with her vehicle.  

Robinson did not find this excusable and doggedly wanted the CPS caseworker to testify to the court that the mother was lying about her transportation problems.  Instead, the CPS caseworker testified that CPS seeks to reunify children with their parents but this case has taken longer because the department wanted to be satisfied with the care the mother would give her new baby and the foster parents of her 2 children didn’t agree with the return of the children.  CPS also said under oath, the 5 month old was not removed because their were no grounds, there are no services left for the mother to complete, the mother has done an excellent job with services and her new baby, she has never committed domestic violence on her kids, and the children’s therapist has only worked with the foster parents and has never worked with the mother.  

This case will be dismissed in two months and the foster parents hired attorney Greg Housewirth to intervene in this case two days ago. Housewirth filed a Petition to Intervene for Termination and Adoption of Child on behalf of his clients.  Interestingly, Mr. Housewirth appeared at this hearing when his clients were not part of the motion.  The judge allowed him to sit with counsel and he attempted to ask questions and make objections.  The mother’s court appointed attorney, Carillo, continuously reminded the court the inappropriateness for his behavior and presence, but the judge only made exceptions for him.  Judge White allowed him to cross examine witnesses on the stand through the ad litem attorney.  Attorneys Paschall and Carrillo throughout the hearing were visibly irritated with the many exceptions the judge was allowing.  

Even worse, Judge White and attorney Robinson would interrupt attorney Carrillo’s line of questioning of the CPS caseworker.  CPS was answering questions related to findings and investigations of the mother by their department.   Judge White and Robinson both interrupted and discussed together what they remembered was different than what was being offered in testimony.  CPS attorney Paschall was able to validate the caseworker’s testimony.

The therapist, Andrea M. Davis LPC.,  in this case was clearly biased.  She had never met the mother, but was able to make recommendations and opinions of the mother’s ability to parent based on other therapist’s progress notes and CPS’s  records.  The mother’s attorney obviously objected and asked how she could offer an opinion based on someone else’s opinion.  The therapist has weekly counseling sessions at the foster parent’s home or in her office (total of 24 times) but is not willing to hold any sessions in the mother’s home.  I believe at one time while the therapist was testifying, the ad litem offered to the court the older child has PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  CPS and the mother’s attorney kept objecting, but the judge would side with the ad litem.  Attorney Robinson may be a nurse, but she not licensed as a psychiatrist or psychologist who can diagnose mental illnesses.

The judge was to rule on CPS’ motion to allow the mother to have 4 hour unsupervised visitations with her boys to start a process of a rapid return of permanency in their mother’s home.  CPS reiterated in the hearing their desire to reunite the children with their mother as this is always their goal. The judge’s ruling is unknown at this time, however, she did rule the mother is court ordered to take a paternity DNA test to determine who the father of her 5 month old baby is, who is not a part of this suit.

On this day, PPC Court Watcher’s witnessed CPS fighting to do what is in the child’s best interest of the children, while the court appointed attorney fought to keep the children from their mother.

In this case, there are 4 court appointed attorneys paid by Tarrant County.  So far a total of $4683.54 has been spent on the case just in attorney fees.  In CPS cases, attorneys are paid $100 an hour.  According to invoices submitted to the court, the ad litem attorney, Laurie Robinson, has been paid a disproportionate amount in this case.  Robinson has made $3600  (76%)  and the mother’s attorney, Sonya Carrillo, has been paid $613.54 (13%) of the total fees expenditures.  The percentages actually represent the number of hours the attorneys have worked on the case and according to the invoices.  Robinson has worked 36 hours representing the two toddler children versus Carrillo who was just as prepared for court, has worked 6 hours representing the mother.

This case begs the question, whose interest’s is the court protecting?

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/cps-fights/

Aug 13 2014

Tarrant County 360th District Court Reversed For Not Providing a Record

Court Reporter Motion

Another recent appeal from a Tarrant County family court ruling resulted in a reversal and remanded family case. The 360th District Judge, Mike Sinha, failed to ensure that a reporter’s record was taken at trial even though Section 105.003 of the Texas Family Code says a record SHALL be made unless waived by the parties.

See the full appeal here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2SxgmLebjiLb3BCazgzOVdZNmM/edit?usp=sharing

You could a request for court reporter and file it with the court. This could ensure you have not waived a record to be made at any hearings. Also remember only the district courts have court reporters recording hearings. If you are in an associate judge’s court, you can hire your own reporter to record the proceedings.

Attached is an example of a request for a court reporter.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/360th-no-court-record/

Aug 01 2014

District Judge Nevarez sanctions wife for jury request

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COURT WATCHER REPORT- 231st District Court -Tarrant County
AUGUST 1, 2014

On February 19, 2013  a motion was brought before the court for a Post Divorce Division of Property.  The husband is represented by attorney Mark Cochran and the wife currently by attorney Robert Widner.  The records suggest the father’s salary is close to $1 million a year. The wife alleges fraud and perjury by her ex-husband because he intentionally was deceitful to the court by hiding $850,000 worth of assets at the time of the divorce.

On April 21, 2014, Judge Nevarez ordered the wife to pay $30,000 into the ‘court registry’. The 231st District Judge (Nevarez) ordered her to pay the court the full amount within 10 days of the ruling.  She works part-time and was forced to empty her IRA account and take out a home equity loan in order to comply with the judge’s order.  Court watchers have been reporting ‘conditional rulings’ by the 360th District Judge (Sinha) and it would appear the newly elected 231st District Judge is doing the same.  This $30,000 was ordered after the mother requested a trial by jury.  The transcript images attached are from the April 28, 2014 hearing.  Could the conditional sanction by the court be because the mother requested a jury to hear the case?

After today’s hearing, a witness reported to PPC the husband’s attorney, Mark Cochran, was overheard stating “if I don’t get all of the $30,000 then I will get $15,000 or something”.  

When the hearing was over, the PPC Court Watcher asked Judge Nevarez what a ‘court registry’ was and he explained it as an account held and controlled by the judge when parties cannot be trusted with money.  

PPC’s question is:  Why does the wife have to provide the court $30,000 when the husband is hiding close to a million dollars in assets?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/sanction-wife-jury-request/

Jul 29 2014

Tarrant County 360th Court offers a victim a deal if drops charges against the father

Tarrant County 360th Court offers a victim a deal if drops charges against the father

 

360th offers victim a dealCourt watchers have been following a case in Tarrant County Family Courts. 360th District Court (Judge Sinha and Judge Mendoza) used it’s ‘judicial discretion’ to punish a sexual and physical assault victim by forcing the victim to pay all court appointment fees. The judge(s) normally split the fees, but this court has offered the victim a deal. If she drops her motion to terminate parental rights, the judge(s) will reconsider the order forcing her to pay the entire social study fee ($800) and all amicus fees. The 360th Court appointed an attorney, Lori DeAngelis, to be paid at a rate of $300 an hour to protect the interests of an infant as an amicus attorney. Amicus attorneys are actually arms of the court and do not represent children.

When CPS use ad litem attorneys (who actually represent the children and not the court) at the rate is $100 an hour, how can this court justify an amicus attorney making $300 an hour who simply assists the court? The court has already appointed a case worker to conduct a social study who is also an arm of the court. Keep in mind, the mother will be paying all these costs and not taxpayers.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/tarrant-county-360th-court-offers-victim-deal/

May 30 2014

Conspiracy in the 360th District Court

COURT WATCHER REPORT in Tarrant County, Texas:  MAY 27, 2014

MendozaVaughn Bailey copyA group of court watchers showed up at Tarrant County Family Courthouse to observe a case.  Before the case began, the father’s attorney, client  and client’s current wife were giggling in the lobby and looking at the groups of court watchers.  We thought this was unusual but ignored it.  The case began at 1:32pm with Judge Mendoza coming out of her chambers with a big smile on her face.  Mendoza asks the mother’s attorney, Chris Nickelson, where the Domestic Relations Attorney Anne Smith is and where the opposing attorney Vaughn Bailey were. Then joked with Nickelson that he didn’t know where anyone was.  Mendoza’s behavior appeared to be a nervous reaction because she appeared inappropriately jovial.

At 1:36 p.m. Ms. Smith and Mr. Bailey come in the courtroom and the judge is ready to proceed.  Judge calls the case number and she was hearing a Motion to Revoke Community Supervision.  The mother was being charged with contempt today.  In the past hearing she proved to the court that she was indigent and was court appointed an attorney, Chris Nickelson.

At 1:40 p.m. Vaughn Bailey asks Judge Mendoza  to ask all the witnesses in the courtroom to identify themselves to the court.  He followed his request with asking all observers to be sworn in.  The judge then asked the court watchers to stand up and be sworn in.  Only 4 of the 7 court watchers stood up and were sworn in.  Vaughn Bailey was not satisfied.  He requested the other 3 stand up and be sworn in as well.  Two of the three announced they were not witnesses – they were observers.  The judge still asked them to stand up and be sworn in.  Mr. Bailey then said, now he wanted everyone to identify themselves by name and their reason in the courtroom.  Everyone stated their name and five said “court watcher”, one said “observer” and one said “author” as their position.  Then, Mr. Bailey invoked “the rule” in which excluded all witnesses to be in the courtroom and to sit outside until called in as a witness to the case.  The bailiff walked over to us and said we need to leave the courtroom.  All the observers were shocked and some touted this was unconstitutional.  We were ordered to leave and the bailiff shut the outside doors not permitting anyone to even view inside the courtroom.

This was an obvious premeditated strategy to prevent the mother to have any witnesses of the attacks she would receive throughout her court hearing.  She reported that she was on the stand and Mr. Bailey asked her to identify each observer in the courtroom and how she knew them.  I am not sure how this information would be relevant when the Domestic Relation’s Office has filed a motion to revoke community supervision, but Mr. Bailey thought it was important.

This case drew much attention as court coordinators, court reporters and other attorneys were drawn in to observe the closed courtroom.  Mr. Bailey did not see it fit to call them as witnesses and have them removed.  The ‘witnesses’ were detained outside the court for 5 hours.  Throughout this period of time I would ask Mr. Bailey why we were considered witnesses to the case.  I also asked for a witness list in which no one could provide.  Mr. Bailey stated it wasn’t his turn to call witnesses and did not know at this time if we would be needed.  As you can probably guess, no one was called on as a witness.  This was just one of many corroborated sharp practices that Tarrant County is repeatedly guilty of.

The outcome was that the mother was charged with 180 days to be served on the weekends until all time is served.  She was already illegally arrested two months ago by the court and she served 3 days in February so she has 177 days left to serve only on the weekends.  She is the primary health care giver of her terminally ill father and the court on this day heard his deposition of his health condition.  The court found that it was in the best interest of the mother’s child and the mother’s father that she spend the next 88 weekends in jail despite all the testimony heard.

What is interesting is that the mother has not been given the opportunity to see or speak to her daughter for a year a half.  Mr. Vaughn Bailey did make an offer that many parents would find troubling…..if she would give up her parental rights then he would drop the suit.  I think we all know what her response was.  At this time she is checking herself into the Tarrant County Correctional facility to fulfill her second weekend in jail.  The court deemed her indigent but yet Judge Mendoza has ordered her the maximum amount of time Mendoza can legally hold someone in jail because she intentionally avoided paying her child support obligation.  How ironic.

(Images of attorney Vaughn Bailey and Associate Judge Cynthia Mendoza)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/conspiracy-360th-district-court/

May 06 2014

Newly appointed Tarrant County Judge makes $16,000 a year from taxpayers

It pays BIG to be court appointed in Tarrant County.

The Office of Court Administration reports taxpayers paid Lindsay Devos, the newly appointed 231st associate judge, over $50,000 during the 3 months prior to her appointment on the bench. Private fees paid to Devos are not included in this amount.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/newly-appointed-tarrant-county-judge-makes-16000-year-taxpayers/

Apr 15 2014

Racketeering in Texas

Racketeering leads to child abuse in Texas

By a PPC Member

Judges, Child Support Enforcement, Family Court Services, Child Protective Services and court appointed professionals are disregarding and proactively working against mothers who make legitimate sexual abuse complaints against fathers. Instead of protecting the child from the perpetrator, the judges are giving the father more access to the child(ren) by giving them more visitation and custody than before the allegations as a measure to sanction the mother for asking the court to protect her child(ren).

In my situation, I observed physical and behavioral evidence of sexual abuse on my own child after her father and I divorced 5 years ago.  After further research of the father’s past, I obtained documents that showed substantiated abuse of another biological child and he relinquished all parental rights to this child.  After the court appointed amicus attorney reviewed the police reports, Social Service’s report, child’s interview,  outcry to a doctor, and mother’s affidavit the amicus chose to believe that all of this information was discredited and the judge agreed. The temporary restraining order was terminated. My child’s prior therapist wrote to the court out of concern for my daughter but was ordered to never be in another session with my child.  The judge appointed a new therapist and increased the father’s visitation while denying me future holidays.

The judge wanted to speak to my seven year old alone and would not allow anyone in the chambers other than the amicus attorney.  She refused to make the meeting a matter of record by a court reporter or by having the meeting heard over a speakerphone. I learn later that this is the moment that the judge in other cases has claimed Parent Alienation Syndrome (P.A.S.) and walks your child out the back door of her office and into the hands of the abusive father.   She then calls you in chambers and you are told, “This is the worst case of Parent Alienation I have ever seen and you have lost custody of your child(ren)”.

After six trips to the court house with the attorneys and judge writing  temporary orders behind closed doors, I am finally before the judge and she is sitting on the bench.  The father’s attorney, who was referred to the father by the amicus attorney, asked the judge to order me to take a psychological evaluation.  The Judge obliged but refused  to order the father to take an  ABEL test or polygraph because she “didn’t want to put him through all that”.  The judge also states that even if the child out cried at this point she would not even believe it.

The District Attorney’s Office in another state, offered the Tarrant County  Texas case worker two other criminal documents that the father had civilly sealed years ago.  Instead of the case worker acccepting the documents she told my attorney that the D.A’s Office in the other state would not cooperate with her requests.  In our court hearing the judge, amicus attorney, and father’s attorney all agreed that these documents were sealed and not only could we not get them, but that they would not be willing to release them.  As we found out later, the District Attorney’s Office in the other state only needed a letterhead from Tarrant County requesting the documents and they would pick off the civil seal and provide the court the documents.

This organized case-rigging is to ensure that the mothers that complain of abuse are discredited.   These  judges that are facilitated by secret judicial groups and are cross-affiliated to father’s rights groups are contributing  to the corruption of our Family Court System.  Knowledge of this pattern has come from sources such as father’s rights literature, HHS-ACF (Health and Human Services Department- Administration for Children and Families) Access and Visitation program funds and AFCC (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts) documentation.

Judges and parent coordinators handling these pro-father rigged cases are leaving trails of evidence simply because they feel they are protected by judicial immunity and regulation.  Examples of such evidence:

  • Refusing to hear witnesses brought by mother.
  • Terminating child support to mother and redirecting to pay amicus attorney.
  •  Ignoring statutes that protect children from parents with credible evidence of past sexual abuse.
  • Amicus attorneys setting up meetings with school without ad litem.
  • Lying about the content of conversations amicus’ had with children and using the same therapists, amicus’, psychiatrists, county case worker, therapists and mediators in abuse cases.
  • Allowing and promoting the father to not abide by court orders yet will find mother in contempt if she behaved as such.
  • Instead of following the Attorney General’s Guidelines to set up child support, the court appoints by name the Director of Child Support Enforcement to decide if the father should pay the thousands of dollars in  arrearages and what amount (if any) support should be paid by father.

The National Quality Improvement Center on Nonresident Fathers and the Child Welfare System, National Fatherhood Initiative, American Humane Association and American Bar Association on Children and the Law created the Father Friendly Check-Up (FFCU).  This is a tool to encourage more non-resident  father involvement in the courtroom through the court administrative functions.  The checklist defines a non-resident father as “a father who did not live with his child at the time the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/racketeering-texas/

Apr 15 2014

Digital Court Recorders are needed in the courtroom

Need Digital Recorders in the Courts

It just makes sense to install digital recorders in our family courts.
Tarrant County court reporters are paid $100,000 annually by the county and parties requesting transcripts pay court reporters privately for the record. Wouldn’t it make sense to reduce costs to the taxpayers by installing cameras in each courtroom instead? We would save taxpayers $85,000 per courtroom a year.

Court reporters are constantly stopping proceedings in family court due to the speaker talking too fast, too soft, reporter can’t understand etc. There are flaws of course – interruptions with court reporters and interfering noises with digital recorders which could create inaudible recordings.

Maybe Tarrant should look into testing this technology? Associate Family Courts do not have court reporters present unless the judge is hearing contempt or enforcement motions. District Courts however have court reporters present when in session. Many families have full hearings in the associate judge’s court and do not have the ability to obtain a record of what just happened. This is a problem because majority of family court hearings are heard in the associate court.

Surely Tarrant County could afford to pilot digital recorders in the 6 Associate Judge courtrooms.

New Jersey began installing digital recorders in 2012 successfully. Click here for more details.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/digital-court-recorders/

Apr 12 2014

Court Watching Report: April 8, 2014

One of the Good Guys

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From a Court Watcher:
“I was very impressed with Judge Munford, Tarrant County 322nd Associate District Judge, as he would not sign any documents given to him by any attorney without asking questions. He questioned the attorneys and requested proof the other party was served documents properly. He also made sure the motion/complaint brought to him was justified.

Very thorough, professional and impressive.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/court-watching-report-april-8-2014/

Apr 12 2014

Anybody working?

TAXPAYERS – Tarrant County Family Courthouse is a ghost town.

Court watchers have been present on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays….and yet each day the case loads per court are extremely light. On paper the courts show approximately 10 cases on their morning docket, but attorneys settle these out of court and cancel hearings. Sometimes our judges leave at 11am because their docket was eliminated.

Why are taxpayers paying 12 family court judges on average $158,000 a year? That is $1.74 million just in judge salaries. Each district court has administrators as well. How much are those salaries combined?

Dallas County has one more district family court than Tarrant County, yet Dallas handles three times the case load Tarrant handles. Tarrant County has a couple of judges that handle our IV-D court cases handling over 8,000 cases. The 12 family judges handle about 21,000 new cases, however only 15,634 appear to be active annually.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/anybody-working/

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