Category: Posts about 2018 Family Court Judge Candidates

Family law attorneys sue watchdog group over social media posts

Family law attorneys sue watchdog group over social media posts

JULY 29, 2016 5:49 PM

BY MAX B. BAKER
maxbaker@star-telegram.com

 

Two attorneys are suing a watchdog group dedicated to reforming the Tarrant County family court system and alleging libel and slander, saying it used social media posts to falsely accuse them of unethical and illegal activities.

Attorneys Lori DeAngelis and Laurie Robinson accuse the Southlake-based Protective Parents Coalition, its co-founder Jennifer Olson, and Donna Tribunella, one of the group’s followers, of defaming them by publishing malicious comments without any evidence, court records state.

Among the allegations is that DeAngelis and Robinson unethically colluded with Tarrant County judges to receive higher attorneys fees and more business while also conspiring with caseworkers to destroy critical social study reports that are part of the court’s records, the lawsuit states.

One posting by Tribunella that is quoted in the lawsuit attacks Robinson for “showing up drunk as a skunk” at a family’s home while serving as a child’s attorney during a custody case. Robinson and DeAngelis have denied all of the allegations made against them.

SOME OF THIS STUFF YOU SHAKE YOUR HEAD AND SAY, ‘WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?’
attorney Jim Ross

The posts appeared on the Protective Parents Coalition’s website and Facebook page, which the group describes in court records as an online newspaper or blog about the family courts. Tribunella, who lives in Burleson, published material on her Facebook page, records show.

“We have a group of people who say they are exercising their free speech rights but there are boundaries that you do not cross,” said Jim Ross, the attorney representing DeAngelis and Robinson. “They are slamming and criticizing to the point of accusing people of crimes …”

“Some of this stuff you shake your head and say, ‘What in the world are you talking about?’”

Ross’ clients are seeking an injunction to prevent the group from publishing any additional posts. In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, they also are seeking more than $100,000 in damages.

Tribunella said she is just exercising her right to free speech in her posts. She has had a contentious child custody case in the Tarrant County courts and questioned the actions of Robinson and others, according to court records.

“Freedom of speech is a fundamental right afforded to all citizens,” Tribunella said in an email. “Advocating and watchdog groups are geared for judicial reform, to gain greater access to transparency when one’s children, family and property are affected.”

“This suit will unleash many more questions than answers into the multiple departments within Tarrant County that should be transparent,” she wrote.

The Star-Telegram was unable to talk to Olson, but the attorney for the Protective Parents Coalition said they will “vigorously” fight the current lawsuit. The group previously convinced a judge to dismiss a petition seeking to take depositions and conduct discovery that could have been used to prepare for this lawsuit, said attorney Greg Westfall.

“Truth is a defense and a defamation lawsuit gets to go both ways. So, they can look for a fight,” Westfall said. “These ladies who make up this organization are trying to reform how the family courts do their business.”

Court watchers

The Protective Parents Coalition was started by Olson after she went through a divorce and custody battle that raised questions with her about how the local family courts operate, a member of the group said. The group was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2014, according to state records.

The group was formed to “support parents and children who do not have a voice outside the courtroom,” and to help those who have dealt with family violence and child abuse but are forced to arbitrate their cases in family court, Olson said in a deposition in January.

As part of its activities, the group established a Court Watching Program that sends volunteers to observe and take notes in court, Olson said. After making their observations, the group’s staff makes recommendations to improve the court system “from the litigant’s perspective,” she said.

The court watchers have not been well received by court personnel and attorneys who work in the family courts, with two associate family court judges kicking them out of the courtroom, she said.

 

THEY WANT TO STOP THE COURT WATCHERS AND THEY DON’T WANT ANY CITIZEN WHISTLEBLOWERS CALLING THEM OUT, MARIE HOWARD.

 Protective Parents Coalition board member

Marie Howard said that when she went to observe a hearing and was questioned about her identity, she was suddenly sworn in as a witness — even though she wasn’t involved in the case — and then told she couldn’t be in the courtoom until she was called to testify. She also couldn’t leave the courthouse until the hearing was completed.

“They pretty much had their way with that case and no one was there to witness it,” said Howard, who lives in Keller and serves on the group’s board of directors.

In another incident, Howard said she was observing a trial and had to go through a search each time she left the courtroom to make sure that she didn’t have a recording device. “They want to stop the court watchers and they don’t want any citizen whistleblowers calling them out,” she said.

Generally, the Protective Parents Coalition finds that the Tarrant County family court system is “deeply flawed” and has identified many examples of “judges, attorneys and court staff misusing and abusing their power,” Olson said in her deposition.

 
Kevin Schmid, president of the Tarrant County Family Law Bar Association, said he hasn’t had any personal knowledge or interaction with the protective parents group, but he said he’s never seen DeAngelis or Robinson behave in an unprofessional manner.
“They are both highly regarded in the family law community,” Schmid said.The veteran family law attorney also defended the local court system, saying that it is “considered to be one of the best in the state and our judges among the most qualified.” Schmid added that everyone involved take their jobs seriously in “highly contentious” cases.“The decisions our judges are called upon to make affect lives and not just dollars,” he said.

Passionate concerns

The Protective Parents Coalition was able to get the previous petition filed by Ross dismissed in February by arguing that the coalition’s activities are allowed under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, which protects citizens who speak out on matters of public concern from retaliatory lawsuits.

The legislation gives the courts the power to promptly toss out a legal action if it determines that the lawsuit impinges on constitutional rights and intends to intimidate or silence them through what is known as an anti-SLAPP motion, or a directive to dismiss a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

The Protective Parents Coalition said its work is a “matter of public concern” since it pertains to the community’s well-being, health or safety and involves a public official or public figure and a service provided in the marketplace.

But the group simply is trying to escape liability for defamatory statements and the Texas Citizens Participation Act does not allow someone to directly state or imply that someone has committed crimes, fraud or behaved in an unethical manner, according to Ross and court records.

Ross, who is appealing the earlier decision, states in court records that the Texas Citizens Participation Act requires not only “clear and specific evidence” of its accusations.

“Everyone has a right to be passionate about a cause that is important to them,” Ross said. “What they don’t have a right to do is falsely accuse people of committing crimes in a public forum. That’s is not protected in the Constitution and not by the anti- SLAPP motion.”

 

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/article92706907.html#storylink=cpy

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/article92706907.html#storylink=cpy

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/family-law-attorneys-sue-watchdog-group-over-social-media-posts/

Audio recording sheds new light on Leiliana Wright child abuse case

Audio recording sheds new light on Leiliana Wright child abuse case

FOX 4 NEWS, DALLAS
BY:  LORI BROWN and VICKI CHEN

 

WATCH FOX 4 NEWS AIRED STORY 

 

TARRANT COUNTY – Next month will mark one year since four-year-old Leiliana Wright was brutally beaten to death in Grand Prairie.

Leiliana was one of dozens of children who died in Texas in 2016 as a result of abuse or neglect, despite being on Child Protective Services’ radar

Clakley told FOX 4, she agreed to give the mother custody of Leiliana at the advice of her attorney, because she did not understand the court system and was afraid to lose visitation rights.

In Clakley’s sworn statements filed to the court before the scheduled hearing that never happened, Clakley raised concerns about Leiliana’s safety and alleged that the mother was using drugs.

But after listening to the audio recording of the judge (made after Leiliana’s death) and investigating the Texas family court system, FOX 4 has learned that Judge Haddock was never required to read the information Clakley filed.

The citizen who made the recording and provided it to FOX 4 asked not to be identified, because she has a family member who also has a case before Judge Haddock.

“They had an opportunity, in my opinion, to protect Leiliana and prevent this,” the caller told FOX 4.

It all started when the citizen saw a news story in April 2016 about Leiliana’s case. She called the judge’s office to voice her concerns and left a message.

The caller was surprised to get a call back from the judge herself. The caller recorded the conversation without the judge’s knowledge, which is legal in Texas.

FOX 4 verified the authenticity of the recording by sending it to Judge Haddock herself, who did not dispute that it was her voice in the recording. Judge Haddock and Judge William Harris, who appointed Haddock, both declined to interview for this story, citing an ongoing investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct sparked by the recording itself.

“Terrible tragedy. I’ve been on the bench 17 years. Hard to talk about this case,” Judge Haddock is heard saying in the recording. “I still lose my breath about it, and cry my eyes out.”

The recording is roughly 30 minutes long. The judge goes on to reveal conflicting information about the case.

“When [the grandmother] filed, she attached an affidavit, but there was no evidence in the affidavit,” the judge said. “Now, since we have done the research we’ve done, and CPS did their research, there was never even a CPS report prior to January 2016.”

“What about in the affidavit? There are indications that CPS was involved with the mother,” the caller asked.

“It wasn’t true. It wasn’t true,” said Judge Haddock.

But the caller was right.

According to a state report obtained by FOX 4, CPS opened investigations involving Leiliana and her mother in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

But, Judge Haddock did not know of about the first CPS case at the time of the scheduled hearing in 2014, because there were no supporting documents included with Clakley’s affidavit.

The judge is also recorded discussing the mother’s alleged drug use around her children.

“According to the affidavit, [Leiliana’s little half-brother] is born with marijuana. No evidence of that. There is no evidence of that,” Judge Haddock said.

Again, the grandmother’s allegations of the mother’s drug use were not supported by official documents filed to the court. But, FOX 4 was able to confirm what she had alleged in her affidavit.

In October 2014, two months before the scheduled hearing, CPS had already received a report that Leiliana’s little half borther was born with drugs in his system.

During that CPS investigation, the children’s mother tested positive on a drug test.

Despite all of this evidence existing, Clakley’s attorney did not file any supporting documents with the court to back up his client’s sworn statement.

The caller shared the recording with Alisa Clakley, Leiliana’s grandmother. After hearing the judge speak about her family’s case to a third-party and give misinformation, Clakley filed a complaint against Judge Haddock with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Family law attorney Laci Bowman is not connected to the case. FOX 4 reached out to her to find out what other things could have helped the grandmother’s case.

Bowman explained how custody cases work in general.

“If there are things like an arrest report, CPS report, you can subpoena a CPS worker to bring the file,” Bowman said. “You can subpoena the documents from the police department. All of those things are tools the client has to get all of the evidence before the judge.”

Despite Alisa Clakley’s affidavit raising her concerns, her attorney advised her to come to an agreement outside of Haddock’s courtroom.

“He said, ‘Alisa, if you go into her courtroom – those were his exact words – you are going to lose everything,’” Clakley said. “These attorneys were afraid, if you will, to go into her courtroom.”

Both parties agreed to give Leiliana’s mother custody and guarantee the Clakley’s visitation rights.

As a result, Judge Haddock never heard the case, but signed off on the agreement.

Clakley’s attorney, Gregory Housewirth, declined to talk to FOX 4 about why he advised Clakley not to go before Judge Haddock.

Clakley also filed a complaint with the State Bar of Texas against Housewirth. She believe is there had been a hearing in the case, Leiliana would be alive today.

The State Bar of Texas determined Clakley’s attorney did not violate any rules handling her case.

In April 2016, a month after Leiliana’s death, Judge William Harris, who appointed Judge Haddock spoke to FOX 4 about the case.

“It certainly appears that there should have been a hearing in this case,” Judge Harris said. “It certainly appears the court should have been given evidence about the mother and her circumstances and I think it was tragic the court was never allowed to hear that evidence.”

Clakley said she feels the system failed Leiliana.

She hopes changes are made in the judicial system to require family court judges to read affidavits like the one she filed before signing off on an agreement. She believes that way, the next time there are red flags about a child’s safety, a judge can question them before it’s too late.

Phifer and Quezada are both charged with felony injury to a child. Their trials are slated to begin in Dallas County in April.

Editor’s Note:

FOX 4 receives dozens of calls and e-mails every month from parents and family members who are concerned that the court system is not keeping their children safe.

After interviewing family law attorney Lacy Bowman for this story, FOX 4 has learned some things people can do to make sure their concerns are being heard by the court.

First of all, often, it can be frustrating for a parent, grandparent or relative when CPS will not release a child’s case file to them.

But, according to Bowman, a CPS case file can become public through a court hearing. An attorney can subpoena the CPS case worker and ask them to bring the case file.

However, there does have to be a hearing to get that file entered into evidence. For example, in Clakley’s case, a CPS case worker did show up for the hearing, but since the case was settled outside the courtroom, the case worker’s testimony and evidence was never heard by the judge.

This investigation started as tip from the public. If you would like submit a tip or story idea, please email iteam@kdfwfox4.com.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/audio-recording-judge/

233rd District Judge blames watchdog group for death of child

 Judge blames watchdog group for death of child 

January 23, 2017

 

The public should be outraged 233rd District Judge Bill Harris of Tarrant County blames the judicial watchdog group, Protective Parents Coalition (PPC) for the death of 4-year-old Leiliana Rose.

Tarrant County 233rd Associate Judge Diane Haddock / Leiliana Rose

On March 13, 2016, Leiliana Rose died and the mother and boyfriend are being charged with her death.

Many news agencies have reported the systemic failures at Child Protective Services and the family court, which ultimately led to Leiliana’s death. 

The mother was a known drug addict, had history with CPS and jailed for two years for a burglary charge.  These facts were known by the court, yet Leiliana was ordered to live with her mother.

On January 20, 2017, Judge Bill Harris wrote a comment on a public Facebook page blaming  Protective Parents Coalition  for Leiliana’s death.

 

 

Post made on a public Facebook page by District Judge of the 233rd Tarrant County court.

 

“If the concerns…had ever been brought to the Associate Judge or the Distract[sic] Judge, an innocent life might had been saved.  I hope the responsible parties can live with their failure to that little girl. ”    

–  Judge Bill Harris, 233rd District Judge in Tarrant County

 

 

 

 

Judge Bill Harris does not name PPC, but the insinuation of the comment attempts to discredit the judicial watchdog group and the Executive Director.  The administrator of this Facebook page is the spouse of Judge Harris’ associate judge, Diane Haddock.  

The purpose of any watchdog group is to keep an eye on issues negatively impacting the community and to warn members of the community when potential or actual problems arise.  Any decision made regarding child custody falls clearly on the judges, not on judicial watchdog groups.  

Judge Bill Harris and Associate Judge Diane Haddock are the ones who failed, as usual, to listen and collect facts that would have lead to justice, and protection of Leiliana Rose.  

PPC is here to remind the courts they must not ignore the law, they must rule by law.  It is the interests of the children that must be protected. 

The name “Leiliana” is of Hawaiian origin and means “heavenly lei (flowers), royal child.”  God bless Leiliana.

 

 

*  Read the Dallas Morning News story more about the systemic failures leading to Leiliana’s death.

*  Read the Star-Telegram’s story about Leiliana Rose’s candleight vigil.  

*  Read PPC’s story about a lawyer blaming the judges for Leiliana’s death.

 

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/judge-blames-watchdog-group-for-death-of-child/

Status Update on PPC Lawsuit

PPC_800x600

Status Update on PPC Lawsuit

August 30, 2016

 

Here are the latest pleadings in the Lori DeAngelis and Laurie Robinson vs. Protective Parents Coalition lawsuit filed July 26, 2016 in Tarrant County, Texas.

 

(1)  Original Answer

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 4.38.21 PM

(2)  Motion to Dismiss Under the Texas Citizens Participation Act

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 4.33.00 PM

(3)  Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Tex. R. Civ. P., Rule 91a

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 4.40.45 PM

 

No hearing dates have been set yet.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/status-update-ppc-lawsuit/

Bitter Fight Against Family Court Lawyers

Bitter Fight Against Family Court Lawyers

By DAVID LEE

COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE

July 28, 2016

FORT WORTH (CN) – Two court-appointed attorneys sued a family court watchdog group, claiming it defamed them in PPC_800x600online posts that claim the lawyers are unethical and colluded with a judge to take “unearned attorney fees and child support from the mother.”

Lori Deangelis and Laurie Robinson, both of Arlington, sued the Protective Parents Coalition on Tuesday in Tarrant County Court. They also sued Jennifer Olson, of Frisco, and Donna Tribunella, of Burleson.

The attorneys say they are “victims of slander and/or libel” on the Protective Parents Coalition (PPC) website and Facebook page, and on Tribunella’s social media sites.

Among their complaint is that a banner posted on the PPC Facebook page on or around July 26, 2015 showed photographs of both plaintiffs with the caption, “Three of the most family court-appointed Fort Worth attorneys.” The plaintiffs claim the banner “formally” describes them as “three of the worst family court appointed Fort Worth attorneys.”

Another post that day stated: “One attorney representing children partnered with a district judge to take unearned attorney fees and child support from the mother of the children who out-cried inappropriate conduct by their father. Her primary motivation is attorney fees collected in each case,” according to the 22-page lawsuit.

The post also said that one of the plaintiffs “had the power to have her paralegal direct a Tarrant County caseworker to select and destroy records collected in a social study” and that one of the plaintiffs “regularly advises one of the parties to fire their current attorney and to hire one of her friends,” while acting as a court-appointed attorney, according to the complaint.

On Jan. 23 this year, the attorneys say, Tribunella posted on her Facebook page that the plaintiffs are “the spawn of Hell who I like to refer to as Court room Hall Whore Huggers who continually stay at the Court house to get Court ordered Assignment from the despicable Judges who order them to oversee a childs best interest (Thats a Joke) to keep them employed and deplete the family’s finances and tear families apart and who coherece with opposing counsel when they are sworn to not share information one sided.” (Spelling and language as in complaint.)

The objectionable statements take up five single-spaced pages of the lawsuit. It cites a Sept. 25, 2015 post from Tribunella, who allegedly called plaintiff Robinson “An attorney in Tarrant county who was removed as a child guardian ad litem for showing up Drunk as a skunk at a families home…Keep on drinking you alcoholic…hope you get pulled over tonight and thrown in jail before you ruin anymore lives~.. It is what it is~ you are pathetic…and Judge Polus and Judge Hennighan who appointed you need to be very ashamed…but yet again …they are corrupt as hell~…what…is that an alcoholic beverage you are drinking?…..and your driving…..WOW…being an attorney dont you know that is Illegal … and that makes you an unfit parent and moraless!” (Language and spelling as in complaint.)

The plaintiffs seek an injunction prohibiting the defendants from contacting them, their employers and their families, and from posting comments on the Internet “directly or indirectly refer” to them. They also want them prohibited from directly or indirectly taking pictures and conveying pictures of the plaintiffs.

Defendant Olson told Courthouse News that if granted, the plaintiffs’ injunction “would silence the plaintiffs’ critics named in the lawsuit and anyone else associated” with the defendants.

“This is a clear violation of protected free speech and freedom of association in our country,” Olson said Tuesday afternoon.
Olson said she has spoken with attorneys who “believe this case is res judicata” — a legal term meaning a litigant is barred from raising the same issue from an earlier claim that could have been then.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Jim Ross, in Arlington, denied any res judicata issue with the lawsuit. In an email message Tuesday afternoon, Ross said, “(W)e are confident the First Amendment does not cover the type of publications” used by the defendants.

In a precursor to the lawsuit, the attorneys in December filed a petition for presuit deposition against the defendants to determine who wrote the online posts.

Olson said the trial court dismissed that case in May under the Texas Citizens’ Participation Act, the state’s Anti-SLAPP law (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation).

The court also awarded $7,747 in attorneys’ fees to PPC et al. in that case.

Olson said the plaintiff-attorneys later filed an “untimely” notice of appeal of that ruling.

“As of today, the [Texas] Second Court of Appeals has not ruled if they will provide an extension to their appeal,” Olson said, citing a letter from the court.

The plaintiffs seek a restraining order and actual and punitive damages for libel, business disparagement, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and intrusion on seclusion.

Formed in 2012 by several parents, the PPC says it “is dedicated to providing an impartial assessment of the effectiveness of family courts in dealing with custody, visitation, support and property issues.” The founders “decided to educate the public” about “unethical child custody evaluators” after seeing “unusual” family court rulings, according to its website.

Read More:  http://www.courthousenews.com/2016/07/28/bitter-fight-against-family-court-lawyers.htm

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/bitter-fight-against-family-court-lawyers/

Is a Family Attorney Blaming the Judges for Toddler Leiliana Wright’s Death?

Is a Family Attorney Blaming the Judges for Toddler Leiliana Wright’s Death?

April 7, 2016

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 9.36.38 PM

Judge Bill Harris interviewed by Fox 4 News April 5, 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 CPS 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.  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,” says Judge Harris.

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.

GParents Affidavit Quezada

CPS and drug use in grandparents affidavit in the Leiliana Wright case.

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.Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 6.39.54 PM

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)

 

Not legal advice:  The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your competent attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site is not legal advice. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not be viewed as legal advice.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/leiliana-wright-case-done-wrong-judges/

Judge Diane Haddock ruling puts child in harms way

Judge Diane Haddock ruling puts child in harms way

March 29, 2016

TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS

233rd Associate Judge Diane Haddock, Fort Worth, Texas

233rd Associate Judge Diane Haddock granted this mother sole managing conservator of her daughter. And now the child is dead and the mother charged.

Another example of Judge Haddock’s order harming children by placing children in unfit homes. Texas judges are required to meet the ‘best interests standard’ and Associate Judge Haddock is failing.

District Judge Bill Harris of the 233rd Court selected her, therefore he is held accountable for Haddock’s reckless decisions under his watch.

This case is an example of children dying due to the family court judges’ sadistic rulings.

Associate Judge Order: CLICK HERE 

District Final Order: CLICK HERE

 

 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

STAR-TELEGRAM ARTICLE – March 29, 2016

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/haddock-harms-way/

Did the judge condone a theft in her courtroom committed by her bailiff?

Did the judge condone a theft in her courtroom committed by her bailiff?

March 2, 2016

Associate judge’s courtroom runs amok

TFRW Senate District 10 Director

Associate Judge Diane Haddock of Tarrant County & TFRW Senate District 10 Director

THE PRE-MEDITATION

At 9:35 am, a court watcher walks into the almost empty 233rd courtroom in Tarrant County. Only the bailiff, Associate Judge (AJ) Diane Haddock and an attorney setting up for her hearing are in the room. As we sit in silence, the judge from the 325th District Court, Judge Judith Wells enters the courtroom through the public entrance. This was a surprise not only to the court watcher, but also to AJ Diane Haddock. The judges usually do not enter other judge’s courtrooms from the public entrance. Instead they would use the back door to the courtroom across from the judge’s chambers. AJ Diane Haddock made a joke with District Judge Wells wondering if she should stand when she walked into the room. District Judge Wells stated, ‘Oh I was just here to see Laurie,” then whispered to ‘Laurie’.

Five minutes later, Judge Well’s AJ Terri White, peeks her head in the courtroom from the chambers entrance and asks if AJ Haddock has a minute. AJ Haddock leaves the bench and ducks out into the hall to meet with the judge. At this time only the attorney, the court watcher and the bailiff were in the courtroom. AJ Haddock returns to the bench after several minutes and by this time the courtroom was filling up with people. Approximately 17 people entered the courtroom by 9:50 am.

The bailiff appeared to be on a mission and walked briskly from his desk, down the aisle and exited the courtroom three times. Several attorneys were ‘staged’ to stand behind and in front of the court watcher. AJ Diane Haddock was sitting at her bench doing paperwork while the courtroom was filled with litigants waiting for their cases to be called. The litigants sat in silence waiting while attorneys and the bailiff walked in and out of the courtroom.

THE ILLEGAL ACT

Finally around 10:22 am., the judge appears to be ready to begin. But, she suddenly says, “Do you hear that phone ringing?” The courtroom was silent and the court watcher heard no ringing. The bailiff said, yes I do. Then two  attorneys agreed they heard a ring too. The bailiff then walked away from his desk, plowed down the aisle and began to exit the courtroom. The court watcher was sitting in the seat closest to the back door and could not see but heard the bailiff behind her. Then, he suddenly turned around and as he was walking back towards the judge he bent down and reached into the court watcher’s purse on the floor, grabbed her cell phone, and held it up in the air and announced, “I found it!”. He then walked straight up to the bench and set it on the judge’s desk.

The court watcher protested and demanded her cell phone back. She stood up and approached the bar and told the judge her bailiff had reached into her purse and took her cell phone. The judge then began to set an example of the court watcher and said that the reason cell phones have to be completely off is because phones can be used as recording devices, per Texas Supreme Court orders. The next thing she said was grossly inaccurate and one might question her moral turpitude  after she made the next statement.  Children are committing suicide because parents are recording court hearings and posting them online.  The courtroom was packed with a hired expert, two subpoenaed witnesses, attorneys, litigants and family members.  All of these individuals are witnesses to the statements made by the judge.

As the court watcher stood there shocked the bailiff stole her phone, she became mortified that a judge would made such a reckless statement before the court. Kids are killing themselves because of what they heard inside a courtroom. If this is AJ Haddock’s experience, what kind of horrific events are happening in her court that cause children to want to kill themselves?

It was obvious AJ Haddock, the bailiff and attorneys imagined a cellphone ringing in the courtroom to attempt to embarrass the court watcher. After the lecture from AJ Haddock, she asked the court watcher if she was recording.  She said no, then instructed the bailiff to return the court watcher’s phone. The court watcher sat back down and took more notes about what had just occurred.

Shortly after the court watcher was berated by AJ Haddock for her quiet cell phone in her purse, one of AJ Haddock’s ‘friends of the court’ was in the courtroom named ‘Deborah’.  Deborah’s cell phone rang loudly in the courtroom. This of course created an awkward situation for the judge and bailiff because of their recent treatment of the court watcher when an imaginary ring was heard by only the court personnel.  Again, AJ Haddock talked about the Texas Supreme Court rules and this time she said, children are harming themselves because parents are recording and posting their court cases online.

THE HISTORY OF THREATS

In November 2014, the bailiff’s supervisor filed a complaint with Internal Affairs for ‘violating Civil Service Rule 12.02.15; specifically Tarrant County Electronic Communications System Policy (3) (A) (2), while on duty and at his assigned duty station, he sent several messages and instant messages which contained offensive references.” The bailiff was investigated for electronic communications with two other 233rd District Court employees (another bailiff and the court coordinator) about this court watcher. The bailiff used the court watcher’s full name and compared her to a Nazi, stated members of the PPC are a threat to public safety, called court watchers “P.O.S” (acronym for ‘piece of sh@t’) and wrote she could be stopped if the bailiffs would “Cock and drop your ASP and accidentally take out a knee trying to catch it before it hits the floor. That should do it.”

BAILIFFS Pg1 BAILIFFS Pg2

The two bailiffs were under direction of the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department and investigated by Internal Affairs.  The bailiff featured in this article quit and was never sanctioned by the Sheriff’s Department.  PPC does not know if District Judge Bill Harris disciplined the 233rd court coordinator for her participation in the inappropriate emails.

THE BAILIFF BILL 

Judge Harris was reportedly furious with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office not only disciplining his bailiffs, but was also angry Sheriff Dee Anderson removed them from his court. The sheriff might have believed it wasn’t the court watcher that was a threat to public safety but instead it was his bailiffs. Judge Harris requested State Representative Matt Krause to author a bill to give him the power to hire his own bailiff. The bill failed, but was presented as an amendment in another bill and it passed. Therefore, the two bailiffs who were sanctioned for harassing the public are now Judge Bill Harris’ employees and he is directly responsible for their conduct.   (Click here for related bailiff harassment post)

AFTER THE ILLEGAL ACT

When the courtroom was empty again, only AJ Haddock, the court watcher and bailiff were in the courtroom. The court watcher wanted clarification on a couple of items the judge had mentioned. The court watcher asked the judge to clarify which Texas Supreme Court law did not permit recordings in the courtroom. AJ Haddock was not able to name the law. At first she said it was posted on a sign by the bailiff’s desk. She was referring to District Judge Bill Harris’ court policy, not a Texas Supreme Court law. Then she thought the law might be in the Texas Court Reporters rules but she wasn’t sure. Then she thought maybe the Office of the Attorney General wrote an opinion for the IV-D courts to have limited recordings in the courtrooms. No law was given however AJ Haddock told a courtroom full of people TWICE there was a law.

Then the court watcher asked about what case she was referring to when she said a child killed themself over a court hearing recording. She said she never said the word ‘killed’, she said she only used the word ‘harmed’. (The court watcher looked back at her notes and revealed the first lecture by AJ Haddock the word ‘suicide’ was used and the second lecture AJ Haddock used the word ‘harmed’.) So the court watcher pressed and asked for details about this child ‘harming’ themselves. AJ Haddock did not know of a situation when a parent posted a recording online and a child injuring themselves – ever. The only conclusion the court watcher could come to was that AJ Haddock, as an un-elected judge who was appointed by District Judge Bill Harris, just lied twice in a public forum. The real question is, how often does this happen?

The bailiff has always been under direct supervision of the judge while in the courtroom even when the Sheriff provided the bailiffs to the family courts. Since the ‘Bailiff Bill’ has been passed under SB 1139, the district judge that hires the bailiffs is responsible for all of their actions. When a district judge hires a bailiff for his associate judge’s courtroom, the associate judge is responsible for their actions and is their direct supervisor. But after the bailiff had 17 witnesses of him reaching into the court watcher’s purse, all of a sudden AJ Diane Haddock said she was just an employee and was not in charge of anyone.

As an associate judge, she has almost as much power as a district judge authorized by the Texas Family Code. One could argue the judge and bailiff coordinated the theft of a phone from their common adversary.  The court watcher reported to AJ Haddock repeatedly her bailiff reached into her purse and took her cellphone without permission.  AJ Haddock ignored and did not address the complaints until after the 5th time.  AJ Haddock looked at the bailiff and sarcastically said, “Okay, now don’t reach into anyone’s purse.  Okay?” 

RESULTS

(1)  Instead of hearing the cases on the docket for the day, the judge reset the cases to be heard on another day.  The litigants did not have their day in court today.

(2)  When the court watcher challenged the associate judge, she could not recite the law prohibited court recordings or a case where a child self-harmed due to court recordings being posted on the internet.

(3)  The expert and two subpoenaed witnesses will be forced to come back to court in three weeks.  And, after all the judge’s fear mongering on the bench, the courtroom was empty (again) by 11:30.

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Tarrant County’s tax dollars are being drained by premeditated shenanigans against members of the public attempting to hold the family judges accountable. It was obvious on this day why court watchers and audio/video recordings are desperately needed in the Tarrant County kangaroo family courtrooms.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/judge-condone-theft/

Tarrant County Court Watchers Harassed

Tarrant County Court Watchers Harassed

January 7, 2016 

Judges, bailiffs and the employees of the Tarrant County family courts have been at odds with court watchers for years. We have not publicized all the harassment court watchers have experienced because it is par for the course. After all, it is alleged many attorneys who choose to practice family law are bankrupting families instead of representing the best interests of their clients in court. Court watchers exist due to many public complaints of denial of due process and violations of local, state and federal laws in the family courts.

Protective Parents Coalition (PPC) has documented courtroom harassment by obtaining affidavits, videos, pictures and public information.  Prior to November of 2014, the court watchers were unaware of the emails and instant messages between judges, family court personnel and bailiffs about the court watchers. We thought we would share some of our findings.

Top 10 comments about court watchers:

  1. Pictures of court watchers on a public street were left in sealed envelope on a Tarrant County district judge’s desk mysteriously overnight. The forged return address is one of a court watcher’s and no finger prints are found on the envelope or pictures. The incident was not formally investigated.

  2. A district judge creates impromptu policies in order to discourage (or intimidate) court watchers from observing her court.

  3. Court watchers are compared to Nazi’s in this YouTube video. (click here)

  4. Bailiffs from the 233rd District Court discuss how to physically take out one of the court watcher’s knees by using their ASP baton.

  5. Discussions when to deny or delay public information requested by the court watchers.

  6. Tarrant executives add ‘court watchers’ to county meeting agendas.

  7. Attorneys ‘watching’ court watchers by following them from courtroom to courtroom.

  8. Judge’s calling court watchers to the bench to inquire who they were and why they were there.

  9. Discussions of discretionary policies to confiscate court watcher’s cell phones.

  10. Many people elected, appointed and privately employed in Tarrant County discuss PPC’s website and Facebook accounts on a regular basis.

The purpose to ‘court watch’ is intended to educate the public about how our family courts function.  Really, the only level of oversight and accountability over the family courts is by the public.

By observing hearings, the public can make opinions based on first hand knowledge. This is very uncomfortable to the family courts. By design, the family courts have alienated themselves from the civil and criminal courts. The outcome is a tight clique and anyone who intends to challenge their objectives will be retaliated against and the court watchers are no exception.Sgt. Glenn Burton and PPC Executive Director, Jennifer Olson

In September of 2015,  the 233rd district court hired their own bailiffs instead of using the Tarrant County Sheriff’s deputies.  This was the first time any Tarrant County family district judges were statutorily permitted to hire their own bailiffs.  We question Judge Bill Harris’ decision because the bailiffs he hired were investigated by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office nine months earlier.  The bailiffs violated mulitiple Tarrant County policies  and threatened to physically harm a court watcher in his courtroom.  The sheriff suspended one bailiff and the other resigned while under investigation.  

According to Sheriff Dee Anderson of Tarrant County, the bailiffs are not under his watch while working inside a courtroom. It is the judge who calls the shots and the sheriff’s hands are tied. With the bailiffs now Harris’ employees, Judge Harris and Haddock are responsible for their own safety in their courtrooms and the bailiffs no longer report to the Tarrant County Sheriff.

Last year, the court watchers in the Tarrant County family courthouse were overly monitored by bailiffs, often under direction of Sergeant Glenn Burton. He managed all the bailiffs assigned to work in the family courts.  

When a court watcher asked for the county’s court docket (a schedule of court cases for the day), Sgt. Burton stated he was asserting his 5th amendment right and would not respond.  He later sent emails out to all of the bailiffs asking if they gave any court dockets to court watchers.  It was discouraged for the bailiffs to comply with any requests made by court watchers without the permission of their judge.

Sheriff Dee Anderson removed all bailiffs including Sgt. Burton from the family courts and assigned them to new posts after he learned the court watchers were harassed in 2014.  Judge Bill Harris and Judge Diane Haddock however, hired the two disciplined bailiffs to work directly for them in their courtrooms in September of 2015.  Both bailiffs are still employed by the 233rd District Court.  

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/tarrant-county-court-watchers-harassed/

Attorneys Pick a Bone with PPC

UPDATE: On February 11, 2016 this petition was dismissed in favor of the Defendants. Attorneys named in article were ordered to pay attorney fees and sanctions. On June 24, 2016 the attorneys appealed the judge’s decision to the Second Court of Appeals and no ruling has been made as of July 27, 2016.

Attorneys Pick a Bone With Parents Group

By DAVID LEE
COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE – Thursday, December 24, 2015

FORT WORTH (CN) – Two Texas attorneys want to know who accused them of colluding with a judge to take “unearned attorney fees and child support” from a mother.

Attorneys Lori Deangelis and Laurie Robinson, both of Arlington, filed a petition for presuit depositions in Tarrant County Court on Tuesday. They seek information from six members of the Parent Protective Coalition (PPC), a family court watchdog group.TFamiliesMatter-1

The attorneys say they are “victims of slander and/or libel” published on the group’s website and Facebook page. They say the statements were posted with “actual malice” and “reckless disregard” for the truth.

On July 26 the PPC posted on Facebook that “one attorney representing children partnered with a district judge to take unearned attorney fees and child support from the mother of the children who out-cried inappropriate conduct by their father,” the petition states. This was posted on the PPC Facebook page at 9:53 a.m. that day, the attorneys say.

That post did not appear on the Facebook page of the Protective Parents Coalition on Wednesday.

The attorneys claim that the 9:53 a.m. July 26 post stated that the unidentified female attorney’s “primary motivation is attorney fees collected in each case.”

The attorneys want to know “The names of each and every PPC member, officer, and/or director that requested the posting of the banner bearing the photographs of each of the petitioners that described the petitioners as ‘three of the most family court appointed Fort Worth attorneys.” They say this post was published on the PPC Facebook page on July 26 at 8:43 a.m.

They want to know the identity of the post’s author, and any evidence he or she has that supports accusations of scheming with a judge.

The 9:53 a.m. post also stated that “one attorney appeared drunk at the doorstep of a father’s home demanding to see the children she was court appointed to represent. She did not leave until police were called,” according to the attorneys’ petition.

The 9:53 a.m. post also said that one of the petitioners “had the power to have her paralegal direct a Tarrant County caseworker to select and destroy records collected in a social study” and that one of the petitioners “regularly advises one of the parties to fire their current attorney and to hire one of her friends” while acting as a court-appointed attorney, according to the petition.

That post also said that other “attorneys consistently file motions to remove her as a court appointment due to misconduct and yet the judges keep appointing her,” according to the petition.

The Protective Parents Coalition did not immediately respond to an e-mail message requesting comment Wednesday morning.

The attorneys want to take depositions from six members of PPC, and want them to produce the requested documents.

They are represented by Jim R. Ross in Arlington.

 

Link to article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/12/24/attorneys-pick-a-bone-with-parents-group.htm

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ppcforchange.com/attorneys-pick-a-bone/

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