Issue: No. 67 February 18, 2016
Click here to download a new 2016 Chart of Harris County Family Courts.
In this issue ....
A Judiciary To Be Proud Of
Publishing this newsletter is not quite as interesting as it used to be simply because almost all of our current family court judges are really good, honest, hardworking jurists who do their best to be fair. Intellectually, I prefer a judiciary that does not need indicting, reforming or defeating. But, it is just more fun to write about and battle wack jobs in judge's robes like I did in 2013 and 2014.
For 2016, I plan to focus on providing information that the family law bar will find useful even as I keep a close eye on our judges and those running for judge. 2015 was a really bad, painful year for me and I can already tell this year is going to restore my usual energy and zest for reform and silly, good humor. This is me speaking at a South Texas College of Law ethics seminar last week wearing a Pikachu hat (my 9 year old dared me):
I admit I slacked off during the last half of 2015 but I have resolved to get a lot done in 2016, including:
My Big Plans for 2016
- Redesign my law firm's extensive web site (95% completed). Check out www.divorcereality.com, my very useful links page and click here for my complete list of all Houston area school district calendars.
- Publish my 2016 Harris County Family Law Legal Directory and my 2016 Galveston County - Clear Lake Legal Directory with a new database design. Each directory will have free listings for over 800 attorneys plus helpful listings of courts, mediators, custody evaluators, business appraisers, etc. Click here to search my up-to-date database of attorneys online. If your listing needs correction, Click here for a form you can fill out and send me.
Lawyers switch firms, get married and change names, die, or move away, so it is a constant challenge to correctly list information on attorneys. I need each of you to make sure I have your information current. Click here to download a form you can use to confirm or correct information on your free listing. Use this form if you are not currently in my database and want to be listed.
- Put on more seminars in May and October in the Harris County Jury Assembly Center. Over 200 lawyers and legal assistants attended my "Ultimate Discovery Seminar" last March. This May 2016 "2016 Mega-Practical Mongoose Family Law Seminar" will cover in four hours:
- Text Messages/Social Media/E-mails - How to capture, present and admit electronic evidence and what to tell your clients NOT to do on-line.
- New Clients: From Sign-Up to First Hearing - Forms, Procedures and Tips
- Discovery - The Updated Ultimate Discovery Seminar condensed to 90 minutes with lots of new forms.
- Winning the Property Division War - How to get information from the client, what documentation is needed and how to correctly make a simple property division spreadsheet that works in mediation and in court.
- Focus on the peculiar ways of the 280th District Court and a certain judge on the 16th floor who once she takes a disliking to a party, no amount of evidence or law or common sense is going to change the outcome of a case.
- Start work now on creating even more family district courts in Harris County and converting the 280th to a general family district court with a different judge. Each family court should handle its own protective orders.
- Take on a few more pro bono cases. I was in the 306th in Galveston waiting my turn when I saw a pro se mom explain to the judge that she did not agree to a settlement giving the father custody because he had been arrested for DWI with the kid in the car. I volunteered then and there to be a free amicus and got appointed. At this rate, I will never have a jet or yacht like my hero Bobby Newman.
There are two things I decided NOT to do in 2016:
I opted not to spend $15,000 of my own money to mail a special print edition of the Mongoose to Republican primary voters in Galveston County like I did two years ago to great effect. After talking to a lot of Galveston County Republicans, I concluded that publicity and shame and common sense arguments are not going to make the judges and county commissioners make peace in their ridiculous feud that has gone on too long and cost way too much tax payer money. I would rather give my money to charity than waste it on dolts actually seriously choosing between Trump or Cruz or Carson. The judges in Galveston County have won their battle but they will not allow the commissioners to surrender because of the personal vendetta a few judges have with Mark Henry. The commissioners court caused the ruckus by seeming to intentionally infuriate the judges and then they made it worse by acting on poor legal advice. Yet, now the judges have what they said they really wanted but Judge Lonnie Cox will not drop his lawsuit until he sees our County Judge held in contempt and a ruling implemented that now makes no sense.
I was going to try to find a home for my foster office dogs I rescued off a rainy, busy street one night in December. These two well behaved, sweet bundles of muscle and affection live at my office (I already have 4 dogs, a bird and lizard at home). They have won my heart and become the main reason I want to go to work each morning, so "Oreo" (aka "Whitey Bolger") and "Simon"will continue to guard my office (that has a fenced back yard).
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 zealously look after children (and who actually personally visit their minor clients in their homes). Is that asking too much? Stay tuned.
The Enos Law Firm
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!
for an archive of past issues of
Meet the New Associate Judges
|Time to break in a new crop of Associate Judges.
Farewell M.L. Walker, Hello Again to Diana Guariglia
Diane Guariglia was appointed by Judge Alicia Franklin-York to be Associate Judge of the 311th District Court. Guariglia replaces Meca Walker, who resigned after a week of rumors that she was on the way out. No one will ever say that Judge Franklin-York is not putting in long hours as a judge and she expects her AJ to do the same. Franklin-York put out a press release that certainly made it look like Walker "retired" on her own and was not forced out. The press release said:
It is with heavy heart that I announce the retirement of Associate Judge Meca Walker. It has been an honor having Judge Walker as my Associate Judge since January 1, 2015. On behalf of myself and the 311th team, we congratulate her and offer our best wishes for the next chapter of her life. I would be remiss if I failed to thank Judge Walker for her many years of service to the community, bar, and judiciary. I would also like to personally recognize Judge Walker for her invaluable assistance during her tenure as a member of this Court's staff. Congratulations, farewell, and thank you, Judge Walker!
Guariglia starts March 1 and she is already well known to the family bar from her years of excellent work as Roy Moore's AJ in the 245th District Court. Judge Franklin-York made an great selection but alas, this flattery will get me nothing as I do not accept cases in the 311th (explaining to prospective clients how I tried to get the judge indicted is simply too complicated).
Lemkuil Selects Amy Perez to be Associate Judge for the 507th
We all know that Governor Abbott paused briefly in his tireless efforts to pander to the lunatic fringe of his party and for once made a brilliant decision to appoint Alyssa Lemkuil as the Judge of the newly created 507th District Court. Lemkuil selected Amy Perez to be her Associate Judge. Perez received her undergraduate degree from Baylor University in Political Science and graduated Cum Laude from South Texas College of Law in 2000. Perez opened her own practice in Spring, Texas on November 1, 2011 after working for Craig Haston and Joe Rentz. Perez became Board Certified in Family Law in 2014. Perez is a well known, highly qualified and widely liked attorney and she is a great selection.
Lombardino Taps Michael Sydow Jr. to be AJ of 308th
Judge James Lombardino had really big shoes to fill when he lost Alyssa Lemkuil as his AJ. Lombardino suprised many by choosing Michael D. Sydow,
to be his Associate Judge. Sydow has been a lawyer for ten years and has practiced more civil law than family law. Sydow graduated Baylor in 2001 and The University of Texas Law School in 2004. This Michael Sydow should not be confused with his father, who has the same name. I made a total fool of myself by e-mailing Lombardino to ask how he could appoint someone to be his AJ when they had a big pending case in his court? Turns out, that the father, Michael Sydow
(who was a prominent personal injury attorney and one of the pioneers of mediation in Houston back in the day) knows the 308th from the inside and is still litigating there years after his divorce. If you try to Google this guy, assume that all of the very interesting results relate to the father and not the son.
Too many lawyers assume that everything Judge Lombardino does is for some nefarious political reason. I may not always agree with Lombardino's legal rulings and our politics are very far apart, but I have come to truly appreciate how much Lombardino does behind the scenes to help the practice of family law and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this selection. Time will tell whether young Mr. Sydow can be as good an AJ as Lombardino's first selection was.
Michael Sydow, Jr.
U.S. Supreme Court Information
to read an article, "The Supreme Court Vacancy Explained (in 250 words)."
to see a chart that shows every name that was put into nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court in the last eighteen months of a president's term since 1791. This is actual historical evidence that Presidents have traditionally continued to appoint justices even at the end of their tenures and the Senate traditionally did its job and almost always approved the nominees.
to read a
story that questions why Justice Scalia was staying for free at this exclusive resort owned by a man who owns a company that last year had a case before the Supreme Court. You too can stay (but hopefully survive) at Cibolo Creek Ranch, located 32 miles south of Marfa on U.S. Highway 67. Rooms start at $350. A suite costs $800 a night. Check it out at www.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says President Barack Obama should name Antonin Scalia's replacement.
O'Connor, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan who became the court's swing vote until she retired from the bench in 2006, broke with Republicans who say they plan to block Obama's nominee, and want his successor to name the next justice."I don't agree (with Republicans)," O'Connor said in
an interview with Phoenix-based Fox affiliate KSAZ.
"We need somebody in there to do the job and just get on with it." She noted that it's unusual to for a Supreme Court opening to exist in an election year, saying that the proximity to the presidential race "creates too much talk around the thing that isn't necessary." She said Obama should name a replacement for Scalia, an influential conservative member of the nation's high court who was found dead Saturday at age 79. "Well you just have to pick the best person you can under these circumstances, as the appointing authority must do. And it's an important position and one we care about as a nation, as a people," O'Connor said. "And I wish the president well as he makes choices and goes down that line -- it's hard."(Source: CNN).
Records from the
States News Service
from May 19,
indicate that current Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell once argued, "Any President's judicial nominees should receive careful consideration. But after that debate, they deserve a simple up-or-down vote. . . . It's time to move away from advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent. The stakes are high . . . . The Constitution of the United States is at stake. Article II, Section 2 clearly provides that the President, and the President alone, nominates judges. The Senate is empowered to give advice and consent."
And on the floor of the Senate
that same day
- at a time when Republican President George W. Bush was set to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Court and his party had fewer than the 60 required votes in the Senate - McConnell continued:
Because of the unprecedented obstruction of our Democratic colleagues, the Republican conference intends to restore the principle that, regardless of party, any President's judicial nominees, after full debate, deserve a simple up-or-down vote. I know that some of our colleagues wish that restoration of this principle were not required. But it is a measured step that my friends on the other side of the aisle have unfortunately made necessary. For the first time in 214 years, they have changed the Senate's 'advise and consent' responsibilities to 'advise and obstruct.'... Given those results, many of us had hoped that the politics of obstruction would have been dumped in the dustbin of history. Regretfully, that did not happen.
Source: "Remembering the Time Mitch McConnell Said, 'The President Alone Nominates Judges'"
How to Keep Guns Out of Your Law Office
Texas may rank 43rd in the nation for the quality of our public education and dead last in the number of people with no health insurance, but by golly we know how to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of those who want to prance around with handguns strapped to their hips or in their purses.
A lot of normal men and women concerned about crime are licensed to have concealed weapons.
Generally speaking, Texans who insist on their right to pretend to be Wyatt Earp and "open carry" are paranoid white men over compensating for too-small organs at the top and in the middle of their bodies.
I personally prefer that trained police officers carry pistols on their belts while the rest of us strap smart phones to our sides with the ability to call 911 but not the ability to accidentally shoot ourselves or others.
Law firms involved in very emotional divorce and child custody cases are not good places for visitors to be openly packing heat and this article provides the very specific information needed to prohibit "open carry" and "conceal carry" license holders from bringing their weapons into your law offices. Business owners who want patrons to leave their weapons behind must post two large signs. The signs must meet strict rules on appearance, wording and text size. The signs must use the exact language of the statute in English and Spanish and the letters must be an inch high and in a color that contrasts with the background of the sign.
Texas Penal Code Sec. 30.06 applies to concealed handguns and Sec. 30.07 applies to open carry weapons. Posting a Section 30.06 sign ONLY means no CONCEAL carry on premises but open carry is allowed. Posting a Section 30.07 sign ONLY means no OPEN carry on premises but conceal carry is allowed. Businesses need to post both Sections 30.06 and 30.07 signs to keep out both concealed and openly carried guns on their premises.
Here is a sample Sec. 30.06 sign:
Here is a sample Sec. 30.07 sign:
You can order both signs that comply with these laws from Office Depot (
to see their $13.99 sign).
The Heart Broken Deserve More Consideration from Divorce Judges and Attorneys
Judges and divorce attorneys should be more aware of the feelings, needs and motivations of spouses who are heartbroken by the divorce cases their wives or husbands have filed
Divorce professionals tend to dismiss the overwhelming sadness of emotionally devastated spouses because there is so little we can do about it and because Texas grants divorces without regard to fault if one spouse wants to end the marriage. All too often, we basically tell our clients, "suck it up, get it over it and deal with it --- this divorce is happening whether you want it or not."
Calm, analytical attorneys are more comfortable dealing with angry clients or rational clients who want the divorce and are not deeply upset by the split. It is simply hard to deal with grownups we do not know who are crying their eyes out and feel their worlds have come crashing down It is not always wives who are emotionally crushed by a divorce. Husbands can also experience the same sort of broken heart.
The heartbroken spouse may know their marriage has problems but usually they are surprised by the divorce and often they are the victims of adultery. These divorce clients needs extra attention from their lawyers and need advice on how to handle their emotional devastation. Often, counseling or medicine is needed. Many heart broken spouses suffer situational depression. Situational depression is a short-term form of depression that can occur in the aftermath of various traumatic changes in normal life, including divorce, retirement, loss of a job and the death of a relative or close friend. Doctors sometimes refer to the condition as adjustment disorder.
We lawyers must protect our clients from themselves and we need to be wary that the heartbroken clients often do really stupid things in the early states of a divorce.
In hearings and trials, judges should not treat the heart broken spouse like just another product moving down the divorce assembly line conveyor belt. These people need to hear that their feelings are understood and taken into account.
Lawyers and legal assistants should take more time with their heart broken clients and yet still gently explain how the divorce process is going to work regardless of how they feel.
Symptoms of the heartbroken spouse, especially in the early states of a divorce, include:
Their nerves are frayed. They can't sleep. They can't eat. Their thoughts are obsessive. Intrusive visions and flashbacks assault them without warning. They cry at the drop of a hat. They feel empty, used up, exhausted. The stress consumes their energy and their life until they feel like there's nothing left.
DISBELIEF: They expect to wake up any minute from this nightmare. It can't be true. They don't believe it. ...
SHOCK: They are numb and often seem dazed. Their emotions are frozen. Their senses are dulled. They go through the motions mechanically, robotically, but can't seem to apply sufficient concentration to their day -to-day lives....
REALITY: "Oh my God. It really happened." They feel they're getting worse. Actually, reality has just set in. It's as if a ton of bricks just fell on them and they're buried beneath them. They don't know where to turn, or can't.
CONFUSION: They're disoriented. They can't think straight. They become impatient, disorganized and forgetful. More frequently than usual they go to a room to retrieve something, but once they get there they can't remember what it was.
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS: They may sleep or eat too little - or too much. They may suffer physical aches and pains, numbness or weakness. They may feel unusually tense and develop headaches, abnormal tics, twitching or shaking. They may feel sick to their stomach and vomit, or their digestive system may react with constipation or diarrhea. Weight loss is common.
Deep emotions suddenly well up, seeking release as crying, uncontrollable sobbing and even screaming out loud.
NEED TO KNOW:
They will ask lots of questions. Their curiosity may be insatiable or it may be limited. Different people have different needs and tolerances for information, but they need information to process their trauma, move through it, and move past it.
They feel it's all so unfair
Their self esteem is shattered. They feel belittled, insignificant, and often even unlovable.
Particular dates, places, items and activities can bring back their pain as intensely as ever. It feels like they're caught in a loop as they relive the trauma. It is emotionally debilitating. Triggers can cause days and nights of depression, renew anger, and can spark and reignite nightmares, which may make them fear sleeping. Triggers can cause them to question if they will ever again experience life without the anguish.
For lawyers, it is much easier to represent a spouse who is rational and who wants the divorce. We need to muster extra time and patience and understanding for our heart broken clients, even as we try to keep their emotions from creating legal fights that are not needed.
Source: Understanding Your Betrayed Spouse - A quick reference manual for unfaithful partners.
I want to write more on this subject and I will share tips or insights any judges or attorneys have for dealing with clients who do not want to be divorced and who are heart broken by their spouse's actions.
Useful Links for Lawyers
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 successful personal injury
attorney in Texas City be
fore 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. The Enos Law Firm serves clients in Galveston County and Harris County, Texas.
Board Certified in Family Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization
The Enos Law Firm
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