Issue: No. 51               
October 7, 2014
  The Enos Law Firm
  17207 Feather Craft Lane, Webster, Texas 77598
  (281) 333-3030    Fax: (281) 488-7775
  Please forward this e-mail newsletter to everyone
who cares about our family courts!

Click here for an archive of past issues of The Mongoose. 

A Texas Parole Commissioner was just indicted for tampering with a government record because she allegedly made false entries in five parole reports.  Click here to read a news story about this indictment.  If it can happen in Hunstville when prison inmates are the victims, it should happen in Harris County when all tax payers and the integrity of our justice system are the victims.

My efforts to reform the crooked system of CPS appointments in Harris County is paying off.  Two family law courts and one juvenile court have adopted new policies that require random selection of ad litems and forbid billing for other attorneys except in unusual circumstances.  Click here to see the policies of the 315th Juvenile Court (Judge Schneider) and click here for the policies of the 312th Family District Court (Judge Farr).   Judge Hellums adopted basically the same policies as Judge Farr.  Now, attorneys are required to sign this verification of their hours when they ask for fees in CPS cases in the courts of Judge Farr and Judge Hellums:

Cause No. :____       

Attorney Name: ________


In submitting this voucher I swear that I have billed only for time incurred by me personally, unless I have received prior court authorization to have an associate or support staff perform the task for which the billing is submitted.


In addition, I swear that this case is a companion to the following cause numbers (if none, state none): _______

and I am not asking for these same hours to be paid under any of the other companion cases.


Signature of Attorney: ____                              

Date of Submission:__

The new rules from good judges who care about the integrity of our judicial system are further proof that it is simply not proper for a CPS ad litem to submit bills for other attorneys without informing the court and getting permission.

All of the family courts are considering adopting rules along these same lines that will apply to all courts.  I can't wait to hear how Judge Franklin votes on these new billing procedures and what position her mentor, Judge Millard, takes. 

The two juvenile courts with the worst problems with CPS appointments (Judges Devlin and Phillips) are still "studying the situation" while their favorites continue to rake in fees. 

The ongoing effort  to limit access to CPS documents in Harris County family court cases continues.  So far, five of the nine family court judges (Moore, Farr, Lombardino, Warne and Dean) have signed administrative orders restricting access to documents deemed confidential by TDFPS and the Family Code.  However, CPS documents with details the public should not see are still not being kept away from the public's prying eyes.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel and his office have been diligently working to get these cases off-line.   Unfortunately, it seems to be an uphill battle.   There are just too many pleadings being filed by the County Attorney and ad litems which do not say,"NOTICE: THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS SENSITIVE DATA."   The children whose information and safety we have a duty to protect deserve better. But,  getting there is not as simple as I would like it to be.

A well known Houston family law attorney with decades of experience e-mailed me to say:

I am not sure I have ever taken the time to tell you how much I admire and appreciate what you do.   It takes a lot of guts to buck the system and a lot of work to fix it.   I don't know that we will ever, in our lifetimes, be able to remedy this awful situation but what you have done and continue to do is to get it out in the open, prevent it from being swept under the rug.  Hopefully this next generation of lawyers will have more integrity and demand accountability rather than simply holding out their hands for some political payback.

I have analyzed three months of CPS billing from the ad litem super star, Gary Polland, and I found results unusual enough for me to file another criminal complaint with the Harris County District Attorney (see story below).

Gossip about imminent indictments aside, I do not expect District Attorney Devon Anderson to do anything until after the election.  Anderson really should recuse her office and ask for the appointment of a prosecutor pro tem.  Alternatively, she should give me 90 minutes to make a presentation to a grand jury and we can see what happens.

Finally, just when I was complaining that my old stomping grounds of Galveston County had gotten too boring, civil war breaks out between ALL of the elected judges and the county commissioners.  My story below tries to explain the legal issues and political motivations involved.


I do not expect to win every case.  I just want an efficient system in which my client gets a fair hearing before a judge who works hard, knows the law, and does not play favorites.  I also expect judges to appoint qualified amicus attorneys who bill honestly and zealously look after children (and actually visit the kids in their homes).   Is that asking too much?  Stay tuned.


Greg Enos
The Enos Law Firm                  

Franklin Resorts to the "Everyone Is Doing It" Defense

I filed a criminal complaint against Judge Alicia Franklin and she is not saying "I didn't do it."  Instead, she defends herself by saying,"Everybody does it."  A Houston Chronicle article of September 21 started this way:

A prominent line of defense has emerged for a newly appointed family court judge accused this month of false billing when she was working as a court-appointed lawyer representing abused children: Everybody does it.


District Court Judge Alicia Franklin, the subject of a criminal complaint alleging she broke the law by billing for more than 24 hours of work in a single day as a court-appointed lawyer in Child Protective Services cases, has explained the high hours by saying she was billing for work done by associates and support staff.


Click here to read the entire article, which also includes these quotes:

   "It [the statute on payment of CPS ad litem fees] sure does imply that it has to be hours worked by the actual ad litem and, I would think, especially for substantive work as opposed to more clerical things," said Austin family lawyer Jimmy Vaught, chair of the family law section of the State Bar of Texas.

   Vaught said he itemizes bills for private clients so they know what they are being charged for and said he would expect the same, or higher, standards for taxpayer-funded work.  His predecessor, Houston family lawyer Sherri Evans, the immediate past chair of the family law section, noted that the statute says "shall" rather than "may."  

   Arlington-based family lawyer Toby Goodman, a former state representative who authored the 2003 bill that put that family code provision into place, said he has no problem with court-appointed lawyers billing for work done by associates or support staff but would expect it to be meticulously itemized and for the rates charged to be different for work done by the lawyers versus work done by their associates and staff, as it is in the private sector.  "If this particular judge is billing 24 hours out a day for her time and it's not broken out, that's inappropriate," he said.


  "If the story is that this is what everybody does, that doesn't make it right," she [Sherri Evans] said.  Evans, the immediate past chair of the family bar, said she believes the system as it exists now is being abused and needs to be fixed. 


If a teenager in my home gets caught plagiarizing others' work on a take-home history test from school, would I accept this defense?

Dad, everyone is doing the same thing I did!  Plus, the teacher did not specifically tell me not to use what others had written and the test form did not have a specific place to note which work had been done by others and not me.  Just because only my name appeared on the test papers and I signed them does not necessarily say that all of the work was by me!

I would expect even a 14 year old to know right from wrong and she would still be grounded at my house no matter who else was doing the same, unethical thing.

Polland_billingHow 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 that Polland submitted for that day (children's names have been redacted).

I assume Polland will rely on the "Alicia Franklin" defenses that: (1) these hours billed include work done by an associate attorney or social worker, and (2) everyone is doing it.  None of the invoices submitted by Polland say that any of the work was done by anyone other than Polland.

As noted in prior issues of this newsletter, it is clear that the law on billing by CPS appointees does not allow the attorney ad litem to bill for work done by others.  Click here to read my article that provides the legal basis for this conclusion.

I am writing a letter to the District Attorney requesting that Gary Polland's billing in CPS cases be investigated and I am again asking Devon Anderson to recuse herself because of her political ties to Mr. Polland.  I am not saying that Mr. Polland committed the crime of tampering with a government record by submitting false billing records on CPS cases.  However, my criminal complaint sets forth the facts and law and asks for an investigation to determine if a crime has been committed.

Polland is the former Chair of the Harris County Republican Party and he has enormous political influence in Harris County Republican primaries, especially with judges, because he is one of the "Big Three" endorsers.  It is virtually impossible to win a Harris County GOP judicial primary, even for an incumbent, without at least two of three endorsements from Hotze, Lowry or Polland.   Unlike Hotze or Lowry, Polland is an attorney.

Every two years, Polland makes a lot of money from his business, Conservative Media Properties, LLC, doing business as the Texas Conservative Review, which endorses candidates in Republican primaries.  Candidates give Polland money to pay for his mailers and local judicial candidates almost have to pay Polland because voters simply cannot know which of the dozens of judicial candidates are qualified.  In election season, judges come to the attorneys asking for contributions, except for Polland.  Unlike the rest of us, Polland is able to go to the judges and ask them for money.  He is in a truly unique and powerful position (see story below).

I do not think our Republican District Attorney, Devon Anderson, who was endorsed by P
olland and who appears at campaign functions with Judge Franklin, is going to seriously investigate either one.  Anderson needs to recuse herself from the criminal complaints I have filed.

courthouse_mediationWho Gets to Use the Courthouse for Paid Mediations?  

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 courtroom and the other side was in a conference room across the hall from the courtroom. Polland did get the case settled.

I have these questions: 
  • How many times has Polland been allowed to conduct mediations in private cases in the courthouse?
  • Can any attorney sign up to use the courthouse for mediations like this?
  • Which judge authorized the use of county facilities for a private, for-profit business activity?
  • Did Polland pay the county any rent for use of the courthouse?

be him
"Together, attorneys can improve our family courts!"

Click here to be inspired by an amazing video of a mongoose taking the fight to a pride of lions. I have seen the same look of surprise that those lions showed on the faces of a few judges in the last few years. 

Advanced Family Law Wi-Fi Class Action Lawsuit vs. Marriott?

This past August, Wi-Fi signals were blocked on the third floor of the Marriott River Center in San Antonio where the seminar rooms and exhibitors were located for the Advanced Family Law Seminar.  As an exhibitor, I could buy Wi-Fi access for hundreds of dollars per day.  I was reminded of this situation when I read that Marriott has agreed to pay a $600,000 fine after the Federal Communications Commission found the company blocked consumer Wi-Fi networks last year during an event at a hotel and conference center in Nashville while charging as much as $1,000 per device for exhibitors to access the hotel's wireless network. Click here to read the details of this sordid story.

QDROsPetitions to Enter QDRO's 

Neither Pro Doc nor the Texas Family Law Practice Manual provide a form for a Motion or Petition to Enter QDRO. Click here for my a firm's form for a "Petition to Enter QDRO."  This form is needed when a divorce has divided a retirement plan but a former spouse will not agree to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. 

Texas Family Code Sec. 9.101(b) says that a petition to enter a QDRO is treated like any other original lawsuit.  This means a petition is filed with a filing fee and the former spouse must be served with citation.  Sec. 9.101(d) states, "The proceedings shall be conducted in the same manner as civil cases generally."  Presumably, this means that 45 days notice of the "final trial" must also be given.  

Subchapter B on Post-Decree QDRO's does not contain a provision for the award of attorney's fees.  In contrast, Subchapter A on Enforcement, in Sec. 9.014 specifically provides for an award of attorney's fees under that subchapter.  If a wife is awarded 55% of her husband's 401k but he obstinately refuses to sign a QDRO, it would seem only fair for the wife to be awarded attorney's fees, but it is not clear what authority the court would have to award fees to the wife.  Of course, if the divorce decree specifically orders the husband to sign the QDRO as one of the closing documents and he refuses, then an enforcement action against the husband for violating the court order should result in an award of attorney's fees. 

The real lesson is for attorneys to get QDRO's signed when the divorce decree is signed and not wait months or years later to deal with the QDRO.

BattleJudges and Commissioners Battle in Galveston County 

A battle has erupted between all of Galveston County's judges on one side and the County Commissioner's Court on the other side.  The fight could well result in lawsuits and mandamus actions in the court of appeals if reason does not prevail.  Both sides are all Republicans and all are elected officials committed to efficient use of tax payer dollars and a well run justice system.  People are really angry and this dispute will have political ramifications far beyond the issue at hand if a compromise is not reached.

In July, the Galveston County Commissioners court unexpectedly terminated Bonnie Quiroga, the County's Director of Justice Administration.  This position served all of the courts and also oversaw departments such as pretrial release and the law library.  None of the judges were consulted prior to Quiroga's firing and almost all of them were very upset by the move.  Commissioners posted the job opening and narrowed applicants down to three finalists.  However, District Judge Lonnie Cox issued a sua sponte order that declared Quiroga's firing illegal and unconstitutional and ordered commissioners to stop the stop the interview process.  Click here to read Judge Cox's order.

The State Office of Court Administration has stepped into the fray and requested an Attorney General's opinion and summarized the facts and law in a way that seems to support Judge Cox's position.  Click here to read the request for an AG Opinion which provides "facts" that County Judge Mark Henry strongly disagrees with.

In the meantime, commissioners have hired an outside law firm and are prepared to file an application for writ of mandamus to declare Cox's order void.  If that happens, then a lawsuit will probably be filed by either Ms. Quiroga or the judges to ask for a temporary restraining order that would likely result in an order enjoining the commissioner's court from hiring a new Director of Justice Administration.

All twelve judges just sent a conciliatory letter to the county commissioners suggesting that both sides meet to try to resolve the dispute.  Click here to read the judges' letter.

Yesterday, the commissioners sent a letter back to the judges that makes it appear they are not very interested in compromise.  Click here to see their letter.

I feel like the kid whose parents are getting divorce: the child just wants the grownups she loves to get along and stop arguing and make dinner!  As an attorney, I want smoothly operating courts and judges who are not distracted by such controversies.  As a tax payer, I want government funds not to be wasted on such squabbles. 

All of the parties involved need to discuss the problem like adults and reach a solution.  One possible solution would be to formally create the position of Court Administrator, who would be serve at the will of the judges, and move the administrative functions such as running the law library and pre-trial release to a county department that clear reports to the county commissioners.

PressHouston Press Investigates "Fathers for Equal Rights"

I run what is in theory a for-profit law practice and I charge $150 for initial consultations with prospective clients.  It seems odd for a volunteer provider of legal services to charge what is essentially a $350 consultation fee that is not disclosed in any of its advertising.

The article in the September 20, 2014 Houston Press begins with these sentences:

We've been at it for a little while, and we still can't figure out what kind of business is being run out of suite 609 at 1314 Texas Street and what services their low-income clientele are getting for the hundreds they fork over. And we think that's the idea.


The office contains multitudes: Organizations operating there include "America Family Law Center," "Texas Volunteer Attorneys," "Fathers For Equal Rights," and "Children First Always." Ostensibly, they all offer access to family court attorneys and ill-defined "resources." But first, you must buy a membership, which isn't disclosed in any of the advertisements we've seen. And things just get weirder from there.


Documents provided to the Houston Press show how the businesses worked as of July 2013: Regardless of what organization's advertisement draws the person to the office, the client buys a membership with America Family Law Center. A contract we have shows the person paid $350 for a three-month membership.


Click here to read the full article by Craig Malisow.


ChronicleProof That the Houston Chronicle Leans Democratic?

The Houston Chronicle has made endorsements for the six contested family law benches in Harris County.   The Chronicle editorial board selected five Democrats and one Republican:

246th Family District Court: Sandra Peake, Democrat

247th Family District Court: Clinton "Chip" Wells, Democrat

280th Family District Court: Barbara Stalder, Democrat

308th Family District Court: Jim Evans, Democrat

309th Family District Court: Sheri Dean, Republican

311th Family District Court: Sherri Cothrun, Democrat

In sharp contrast to the Chronicle, the  bi-partisan Political Action Committee, Family Lawyers for Good Judges, conducted a judicial candidate forum and interview process and has endorsed the following candidates for family courts in Harris County: 
Lynn Bradshaw-Hull (R), Charley Prine (R), John Schmude (R), James Lombardino (R), Sheri Y. Dean (R), and Sherri Cothrun (D). 

  GodProof that God (or Mother Nature) Leans Republican? 

The Democratic candidate for State Representative, former Galveston County District Judge Susan Criss, had a bad day two weeks ago.  Was it simply a series of random occurrences or the acts of a higher power?  First, Criss was caught in a sudden rain storm walking into the courthouse and her dress and hair were soaked.  Fortunately, clerks and friends at the courthouse found a hair dryer and a jacket for Criss.

Then, Criss discovered that her week of being assigned the felony jail jail docket would thrust her in front of the media in a way most political candidates would prefer to avoid. 

A fugitive from Virginia, suspected of kidnapping and killing a missing college coed, had been arrested in Galveston County and Criss got to provide him legal advice in a courtroom filled with news media - not the best exposure for a candidate trying to win a very tight election contest.

Click here to read the story from the Galveston Daily News that addresses several conspiracy theories arising from Criss' exciting day.



Attorney Greg Enos has been through his own divorce and  child custody battle (he won) and understands  what his clients are going through.  Enos  graduated from the University of Texas Law  School and was a very successful personal injury  attorney in Texas City before he decided his true  calling was to help families in divorce and child  custody cases. Greg Enos is active in politics and in Clear Lake area charities.  He has served as President of the Bay Area Bar Association and President of the Board of  Interfaith Caring Ministries. 

Attorney Greg Enos