Issue: No. 77                                                                                                                   November 28, 2017
In this issue ....                                             PLEASE DISPLAY IMAGES ON THIS EMAIL

I work way too many hours for my clients, so it seems reasonable for me to expect judges to work at least 40 hours a week and show up for work every day on time.  I am sick and tired of a few judges who consistently appear late or who simply do not come in and leave their clerks to tell the lawyers and parties that their cases will have to be reset after everyone but the judge has appeared in court.  I have one case where my out-of-town client (who works a real job for not a lot of money) came to Houston FOUR times and each time we learned there in the courtroom that the judge could not hear us.  Twice this happened because the judge just was not there and it was not because of illness (I checked).    If the court staff and parties and witnesses and lawyers all can get up early, deal with traffic and get to court on time then so can the judge who is paid $158,000+ a year for a full-time job.
Most of our family court judges are hard working (see discussion of Judge Roberts below), so I am only distressed over a few judges who are just taking their elected positions for granted.   A timed photo showing when a judge is pulling into the reserved judicial parking area well after their docket call time or leaving their house at a time when their court is already full of citizens should help expose these slackers.  I am ready to name names and I now know where judges park, what entrance they use to get to their parking and where these tardy slackers live just in case a photographic stake-out is needed.  I helped convince a District Judge in a suburban county to not seek re-election just because word got out that I had hired a private investigator to document when he leaving and returning to his house on work days.  
car judge house
Judge XXX gets in her car at 10:42 am at home when her court is full of people who have been there since 9:00 am.

Please Evaluate Harris County Judges - You Have Two Days Left!

The Houston Bar Association's 2017 Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire is open, with a closing date of 5:00 p.m. on November 30. The Judicial Evaluation, conducted in non-election years, gives current HBA members the opportunity to evaluate sitting judges that they have personally appeared before - from federal judges to justice court judges - based on a number of criteria.
To participate in the Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire, members must have a valid email address on file with the HBA. Members access the Evaluation through emails they have received from, the company that conducts the HBA's online judicial polls.
The email will be from: The subject line will be:  2017 HBA Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire Ballot
Once you open your BallotBox e-mail, click on the link "Vote." You will then select the judges that you wish to evaluate, based on personal, firsthand experience only, by placing a check in the box next to the judges' names. When you have selected all the judges you want to evaluate, hit continue and you will be automatically taken to an evaluation page for each judge you selected. When you have completed your evaluations, you will be able to review your responses and cast your Evaluation Questionnaire ballot. You will not need to set a password unless you want to save your questionnaire and return to finish it later.

Book Reviews

Kushiel's Dart
If you liked the HBO series A Game of Thrones, then you should enjoy Kushiel's Dart by Jaqueline Carey.  This 2002 fantasy adventure is set in the geography of Europe but with different nations, history (albeit similar) and religions spiced by strong doses of magic, violent iron age warfare and sex.  The heroine is a courtesan whose mentor involves her in complex court intrigue.  I have enjoyed the fantasy genre for 40+ years (I still have my 1968 Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey) and this book is really one of the best.  I am surprised but very happy that I just discovered this author and her three  sets of trilogies (9 books in all) set in this same very interesting world.  Click here to order from Amazon.

Guantanamo Diary - Restored Edition

Imagine being totally innocent and yet swept up in an international manhunt for terrorists, taken by a foreign country to a far away island prison for 14 weeks, tortured, deprived of human contact and cut off from the world.  Imagine 14 months of such a horror.  Now imagine being held for 14 years and then let go in your native country with no apology or explanation.  This is what happened to this author, who happened to visit Canada from his native Mauritania.  When he returned to his country, he was arrested and turned over to the Americans who took him to Jordan then Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo and held there for 14 years.  No charges were ever filed against him. Slahi was one of two so-called "Special Projects" whose treatment Donald Rumsfeld personally approved - treatment that included extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, sexual molestation, frigid rooms, stress positions, and death threats against both Slahi and his mother.  A heavily redacted version of his diary was published by his lawyers before his release and now Mr. Slahi has republished his diary with all of the redactions filled in.  Slahi comes across as an intelligent man full of forgiveness and kindness.  This is truly an amazing read.  If you care about American ideals of justice and the rule of law, then you should read this book and be prepared to be infuriated and embarrassed.  It should make us lawyers proud that attorneys and an American judge played important roles in freeing Slahi.  His case is not one that makes me proud of President Obama however (even though I in general think he was a GREAT President).

Click here to buy the book from Amazon, which describes the book as follows:

When GUANTÁNAMO DIARY was first published--heavily redacted by the U.S. government--in 2015, Mohamedou Ould Slahi was still imprisoned at the detainee camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, despite a federal court ruling ordering his release, and it was unclear when or if he would ever see freedom. In October 2016, he was finally released and reunited with his family. During his 14-year imprisonment, the United States never charged him with a crime.

Now for the first time, he is able to tell his story in full, with previously censored material restored. This searing diary is not merely a vivid record of a miscarriage of justice, but a deeply personal memoir---terrifying, darkly humorous, and surprisingly gracious. GUANTÁNAMO DIARY is a document of immense emotional power and historical importance.
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.
Greg Enos
The Enos Law Firm   
 The Enos Law Firm
  17207 Feather Craft Lane, Webster, Texas 77598
  (281) 333-3030    Fax: (281) 488-7775
Web site:

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The Mongoose

  RobertsJudge Barbara Roberts Retires - Reflections on What Makes a Good Judge 
I was distressed (but not surprised) when the Democratic Galveston County judges I knew and respected so much were defeated in 2010 by a Republican sweep.  Barbara Roberts was elected to be Judge of County Court No. 2 and replaced my dear friend Trey Dibrell (who had the foresight to retire).  Roberts had worked in municipal law but had very limited criminal law experience and almost no family law experience.   On paper back then, it seemed to many that Roberts was not cut out to  be a trial court judge who presided over civil, family and misdemeanor criminal cases.  Now, eight years later, Judge Roberts has announced that she will not seek reelection and she provides a great example of how intelligence, a strong work ethic and a good, fair heart in a lawyer are more important than experience in making a really good judge.   As we all assess who is running for judge next year, we should keep Judge Roberts in mind when we assess judicial candidates. 
Judge Roberts works really hard and she pushes attorneys just as hard to move their cases.  She does not play favorites and she is friendly and welcoming to everyone who appears before her.   My clients leave her court KNOWING that someone who really cares heard their case. That makes a huge difference, even to those parties who lose their cases.  Judge Roberts has learned the intricacies of my field, family law, and yet she knows enough to let lawyers educate her on legal issues she is not familiar with.  I am praising Republican Judge Roberts even though I am personally a liberal Democrat because as a lawyer, I know that being a good judge has nothing to do with political party affiliation.    A really good judge has those qualities Judge Roberts brings to the courthouse every day: a strong worth ethic, efficiency, common sense, open mindedness, intelligence, kindness, fairness and the smarts to see through B.S. 

Two Republicans are running to replace Roberts: Kerri Foley and Donnie Quintanilla.  Foley served as the appointed Judge of County Court No. 3 after Chris Dupuy was removed.  Foley was defeated in the GOP primary for that bench in 2014 by Donnie Quintanilla and Jack Ewing (Ewing won the runoff).  Back then, Foley was working long hours to fix a screwed up court and did not spend as much time as her opponents on campaigning.  This time, she has been campaigning for months and is focused solely on this election.

Donnie Quintanilla is running against Foley in the Republican primary to replace Judge Roberts as judge of County Court No. 2.  He will have name recognition from his race in 2014 and the fact that his father, Roy Quintanilla, was a judge in Galveston County (of County Court No. 2!).

GoodenNew Judge for the 280th: Angelina Gooden 
Governor Abbott has appointed Angelina Gooden to be the judge of the 280th domestic violence court.   Gooden has practiced law since 1989 and she was an attorney with Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) for 11 years, so she knows her way around protective orders.   Lynn Bradshaw-Hull pleased the family law community by resigning as of October 2017.  After Hurricane Harvey took away the 280th court room and after Bradshaw-Hull decided to resign and be a tour guide at the Noah's Ark theme park in Kentucky, the work of the 280th has been divided between the family law judges, with Judge Judy Warne handling most of the the protective order cases filed by the District Attorney's office.  I personally feel very strongly that protective order cases with an associated divorce or custody case should be heard by the judge hearing the family law case, but I am told we will go back to the 280th hearing all protective order cases.

The 280th court will continue in operation in the 257th courtroom for the foreseeable future.  To the extent the physical space becomes an issue, 257th cases may move to the 312th as needed, but all 5 judges impacted (Judges Farr, Gaffney, Warne,  Patterson and Gooden) all believe that they will be able to share the four existing courtrooms (2 big courtrooms and 2 AJ courtrooms).   The protective order docket call will continue to be heard in the 257th courtroom.
Judge Gooden will take office on December 1.  Judge Gooden will be out the week of December 11 for the College for New Judges.

Gooden is being sworn in on December 1 and four days later she is throwing a campaign fund-raiser at Gloria's Latin Cuisine on December 5.

Democrats Barbara Stalder and Beth Barron are running for the 280th in the March primary for the right to oppose Gooden.  I have heard mention of other Republicans who might run for the 280th, but so far none have filed. 

Disclaimer: Okay, Bradshaw-Hull did not resign to go work as a tour guide at any theme park, but her bizarre, flat monotone speaking style in court always reminded me of a bored, robot-like tour guide reciting the same lines over and over in a creepy sort of way.  Victims of domestic violence in Harris County are all better off with her off the bench.

Candidates: Send me info in your planned fundraisers and I will do my best to put the word out for you, regardless of what party you affiliate with.  I know I have missed several in the last few months, but I do plan to publish diligently now.
DemsDemocratic Lineup for Family Courts - Part 1 
Judge  Judy Warne is retiring, so the GOP primary for the 257th will be a race between former judge Alyssa Lemkuil (supported by virtually ALL family law attorneys) and Melanie Flowers (supported by the "pay to play" "Big 3" Republican slate endorsers and mentored by her political Godfather, James Lombardino).  In a low turn out GOP primary, you can guess who is likely to win.

We all know the family court judges in Harris County.   Most do not know many of the Democrats running for family benches and we need to meet them, because in 13 months they may be our judges.

Roy Moore
Tristan Longino

Charley Prine
Charles Collins

Angela Harrington

John Schmude
Janice Berg

Alyssa Lemkuil
Melanie Flowers
Sandra Peake

Angelina Gooden
Barbara Stalder

Beth Barron

James Lombardino
Gloria Lopez

Sheri Dean
Linda Dunson

Kathy Vossler

Lisa Millard (Conrad Moren)
Sonya Heath

Alicia Franklin-York
Germaine Tanner

David Farr
Chip Wells

I am going to get back to publishing this newsletter on an almost weekly basis, so my next issues will include lengthy profiles of the Democrats running for family court benches in Harris County.  I will also review the election line-ups for surrounding counties.
Again, my story above about Republican Judge Barbara Roberts should remind us all that IF the Democrats win in Harris County in 2018, some of these folks we do not know well may turn out to be really good judges.  Tristan Longino or Janice Berg or even Chip Wells might become good jurists, but it is hard to imagine they can be as good as Judges Moore, Schmude or Farr.  I have a lot of imagination, but I honestly do not think I can imagine a better judge than David Farr (no offense intended Chip).  Despite one "flowery" case that I helped correct, Charley Prine is one of my favorite judges, but Mr. Collins or Ms. Harrington may be just as efficient and fair and good humored as Charley.  But who knows?  The carpenter who just wants to get his case heard and his child support obligation calculated so he can get back to work by the afternoon does not care about political party or experiences or legal scholarship or even wisdom - he just wants a judge who shows up and rules fairly and quickly.
  SweepHow Likely is a Democratic Sweep in Harris County in 2018?  
I predict (and partially fear) that Democrats will sweep Harris County in 2018.  The liberal part of me who was a convention delegate for Jesse Jackson back in the "Rainbow Coalition" days loves that prospect.  The family lawyer part of me dreads the prospect of losing excellent judges like David Farr, Roy Moore or John Schmude. 

Ed Kilgore wrote accurately in New York magazine recently:

Roughly once a dec­ade we see a tid­al wave elec­tion, al­most al­ways at midterm, in which an in­vis­ible hand seems to boost can­did­ates of one party and drag down can­did­ates of the oth­er. Can­did­ates who nor­mally win big end up win­ning by smal­ler mar­gins. Law­makers who usu­ally have com­pet­it­ive races of­ten get sucked away by the un­der­tow. Dis­tricts that should be safe are no longer safe. Strong cam­paigns lose to weak cam­paigns, un­der­fun­ded cam­paigns topple well-fun­ded cam­paigns.

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, sees a blue wave coming in 2018. Cook editor Amy Walter sees many similarities now to the run-up to the 2006 election, in which the Democrats took control of the House, Senate, and majority of the governorships.

In Harris County, a change of just 4% in votes would result in a Democratic sweep.  In 2014, Judge Lisa Millard defeated Democrat Sherri Cothrun 53.54% to 46.46%.  In election after election in 2017, we are seeing changes in vote totals from Republican to Democrat of far more than 4%.

For example, in a special election to replace a Republican State Senator in Tulsa, Oklahoma (a place much more conservative than Houston), Trump won the district in 2016 by 40 percentage points and the Republican Senator who resigned won his election last year by 15% against a well-known, very well funded Democrat.  The district had not elected a Democrat in 21 years.  Yet, three weeks ago, a married lesbian in an inter-racial marriage won against a much better financed Republican.  Allison Ikley-Freeman, a mental health counselor, won by just 31 votes, but that is still a flip of 15% points from just a year ago.

So far in the Trump era, in 2017, there has been an average change in partisan voting in special elections of just over 14% in races for state legislatures.  In other words, the average vote total for Republican candidates for state representative or senator has gone down by 14% on average in special elections.  Elections for state legislators involve smaller districts and usually less money spent, so they are good barometers of public sentiment.  Again, it takes just a swing of 4% for Harris County to go Democratic.  Of course, special elections are not general elections and November 2018 is still a year away.  It looks now like only the Beto O'Rourke - Ted Cruz at the top of the ballot could be competitive state-wide.  A lot can happen in a year, but it is hard to imagine that Trump could suddenly become popular and indictments of his close aides and even family members could well come down in the next months.  Each day it seems like Trump comes up with new ways to alienate all but his rabid base, who at most are 35% of the electorate.  Democrats running for office in 2018 are praying that Trump keeps on doing what he does best without being impeached prior to mid-October.
This Godly woman just filed to run as a Democrat in 2018.

My advice to family lawyers is to get to know the Democrats running for judge and to appreciate the great judges we have now while we can.  As noted above in my article on Judge Roberts in Galveston County, sometimes we luck out and a lawyer elevated to the bench in a partisan sweep year turns out to be really good. 
Primer Family Law Primer: Objecting to an Assigned Judge   
Even hard working judges go on vacation, deal with family emergencies or get sick (although the chronically ill should do the right thing and resign so that the work of the court can go on, no matter how good the AJ is).  Lawyers who find themselves with an assigned judge instead of the elected, presiding judge, should be familiar with the procedures for objecting to an assigned judge.

Deadline.  The objection must be filed before the date of the first hearing or within seven days after receiving actual notice of the assignment, whichever is earlier.  Tex. Gov't Code Sec. 74.053(c).  An objection is too late if the assigned judge makes any ruling in the case.  Perkins v. Groff, 936 S.W.2d 661, 666-7 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1996, writ denied).  

Wiley Old Lawyer Trick (if you want to keep the assigned judge):
Walk quickly to the bench and ask the assigned judge to order that the "rule" has been invoked before opposing counsel can speak or object to the judge.  That is a "ruling" and it then is too late for the opposition to object to the judge.

Wiley Judge Trick: 
The court should more than a week in advance, fax counsel in a case set for hearing or trial and notify them that Judge xxx will be a visiting judge that day and has been assigned the case.  This notice triggers the seven day deadline to object to the assigned judge.

The objection to the assigned judge must be in writing, but may be handwritten, and preferably should identify the assigned judge by name.  Tex. Gov't Code Sec. 74.053(b).  Morris v. Short, 902 S.W.2d 566, 569 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st Dist.] 1995, writ denied).

    Example Form:  
  Objection to Assigned Judge
    This Objection to Assigned Judge is brought by Tim Little, Respondent, who shows in support:
    1.    In accordance with section 74.053 of the Texas Government Code, Respondent objects to the assignment of Judge Roy Bean to hear this case.
    2.    Respondent received actual notice of the assignment of Judge Roy Bean on October 20, 2017.  This objection, which is being filed no later than the seventh day after that date and before the first hearing or trial over which the assigned judge is to preside, is timely.

Who Can Be Challenged and How Many Times? 
An active judge assigned to a case cannot be challenged. Tex. Gov't Code Sec. 74.053(e).  So, if a case from Judge Dean's court is sent down the hall to Judge Prine, an objection is not allowed.  Each party in a case gets just one challenge to an assigned judge who is a retired, former or senior judge.  Tex. Gov't Code Sec. 74.053(b).  A former judge is a judge who served at least eight years but who is not retired and who was not defeated in his or her last election.  Tex. Gov't Code Sec. 74.041(5). There is no limit on how many times a party can challenge an assigned judge who was defeated in his or her last primary or general election. Tex. Gov't Code Sec. 74.053(b)(d).

Objection is Automatic. 
A timely objection to an assigned judge is mandatory.  Tex. Gov't Code Sec. 74.053(b).

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, Brazoria County and Harris County, Texas.  

Greg Enos
Board Certified in Family Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization
The Enos Law Firm