Issue No. 103
March 16, 2020
In this issue....

  • Judges Who Do Not Close Their Courts (Except for Emergencies) Are Endangering the Public

  • Area Court Closures and Dangerous Refusals to Close
This weekend, many people went about their lives as usual and continued to socialize and spent time in close contact with others. Almost everyone knows about Covid-19, but many citizens do not seem to realize that a HUGE medical and financial tidal wave is about to crash upon us all.

We all need to take care of our families, our clients, and our businesses. The single most important thing we all can do is to close our offices and largely stay at home. We need to stop going to parties or weddings or restaurants or barber shops or nail salons. We should stay at home. We need to ask our employees and clients to do the same. The articles below explain why this is so important. This includes NOT FORCING LAWYERS AND CLIENTS AND WITNESSES TO GO TO COURT!

I predict that local governments here in Texas will soon order us to shut down and isolate. The sooner we all do that the better. When a hurricane threatens, I act on my own to protect my family and property and do not wait for the government to order me to evacuate. This is how we all should be behaving now.

Here is what I am doing for my business and clients:

  • All of my employees are set up to work from home and remotely connect to my firm's server computer. We all have downloaded Google Duo on our phones and home devices so we can video conference with each other and with clients. Google Duo is a video and audio calling app made by Google, similar to Apple's FaceTime, Facebook's WhatsApp or Messenger and Microsoft's Skype. Duo is free to use, enables one-to-one video and voice calls and it works across both Apple and Android devices. Apple's FaceTime only works on Apple devices.
  • For two days this week, I am staggering in-office work time so that only two employees are working at once. Starting on Wednesday, my office will be closed, possibly for six to eight weeks, but we will still be doing business.
  • I will be accepting deliveries at my office but we are not scheduling in-person meetings and we are not accepting payments in person at the office. We will handle potential new clients with free phone or video meetings and all of our client meetings will be done electronically.
  • We are e-mailing our clients about our new procedures and we are creating automatic e-mail responses that explain what we are doing.
  • I am going to slow-pay vendors and do my best to conserve cash to pay my employees in full for as long as I can. I will look into a SBA loan for small businesses harmed by the Covid-19 emergency when that new program is finalized.
  • I will help my employees apply for the new federal paid time-off as soon as the federal legislation is passed and signed by the President.
  • I will continue to inform myself, my employees, and clients about Covid-19. Click here for an excellent article which summarizes the latest medical knowledge about the disease, including:

Most spread is from droplets produced when an infected person coughs, which are inhaled by people nearby. Transmission from touching contaminated surfaces hasn't been shown yet, though recent tests by U.S. scientists suggest it's possible -- one reason they recommend washing your hands and not touching your face. The virus can live in the air for several hours, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Cleaning surfaces with solutions containing diluted bleach should kill it.... The average time from exposure to developing symptoms is five to six days, but can be up to two weeks. .... Most people get fever and cough, sometimes fatigue or shortness of breath, and recover after about two weeks. About 15% develop severe disease, including pneumonia. Symptoms usually start slowly and often worsen as the illness goes on.

Click here for a map which shows the spread of Covid-19 within the United States.

Click here to read this very informative article, which tells you almost everything you need to know about Covid-19 in easy to understand charts.
I may not win every case (even if in my heart I expect to). 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. 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
   Please forward this e-mail newsletter to everyone who cares about our family courts! 
Judges Who Do Not Close Their Courts
(Except for Emergencies)
Are Endangering the Public
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday called for the cancellation of in-person events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Over the weekend, more Covid-19 cases were announced in our area, including one in Galveston County and two in Brazoria County. As tests finally become available later this week, the number of positive test results will sky rocket.

Late last week, Harris County and some suburban counties began to close courts except for emergency situations. Unfortunately, some judges have not yet shut down their courtrooms and those judges are ignoring science and endangering us all. In light of developments over the weekend, I am sure all judges will act prudently and cancel all court proceedings except for genuine emergencies.

Click here to read an e-mail from the Presiding Probate Judge in Texas, Guy Herman, which has many wise recommendations for judges and which includes the latest recommendations from the State Office of Court Administration.

This is how serious the Covid-19 crisis could get, especially if we do not act NOW to slow the spread of the disease. The conservative news website, The Hill , reported on March 13:

Statistical models meant to project the potential reach of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease suggest more than a million Americans could die if the nation does not take swift action to stop its spread as quickly as possible.

At least three different models built by epidemiology experts suggest that millions of Americans will contract the coronavirus, even in optimistic projections, based on what they know of its spread in China and the United States so far.  One model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that between 160 million and 210 million Americans could contract the disease over as long as a year. Based on mortality data and current hospital capacity, the number of deaths under the CDC's scenarios ranged from 200,000 to as many as 1.7 million.

It found as many as 21 million people might need hospitalization, a daunting figure in a nation with just about 925,000 hospital beds.....Another model built by experts at Resolve to Save Lives, a global health nonprofit, and the Council on Foreign Relations found the number of potential deaths could range from as few as 163,500, if the virus is no more deadly than seasonal influenza, to more than 1.6 million if the virus carries a mortality rate of just 1 percent.

Click here to read a short, well written article from The Atlantic entitled,"Cancel Everything - Social distancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus. We must start immediately."

The business magazine Forbes published an article last week that said in part:

There’s a good reason to “ cancel everything. ” All these decisions by public officials and businesses are aimed at one goal: slowing down the spread of the virus to avoid overburdening a healthcare system that doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle a sudden surge of tens of thousands of cases at once. Without mass closings, that surge is exactly what will happen, just as it has in Italy

It’s called “flattening the curve.” And that’s exactly what it is when you see it visually. Here’s what is looks like in an illustration from Max Roser at Our World in Data , very similar to the figure in a recent Emerging Infectious Diseases study on social distancing to reduce pandemic influenza.
Click here to read the article from Forbes .

Again, I beg everyone, including our smart, caring judges to PLEASE click here to read "Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now Politicians, Community Leaders and Business Leaders: What Should You Do and When?"

Click here to read about a 45 year old lawyer in New Orleans who is now in critical condition with Covid-19. What happened to him could happen to any of us. The story says:

Heaven Frilot said Sunday she could hardly believe it. Her husband is 45, a construction litigator who is “never, ever sick.” But now, after seeing images of huge groups partying in New Orleans on Saturday despite the state’s request for people to practice “social distancing,” she is speaking up, hoping her family’s experience can serve as a warning for those who underestimate the risks of COVID-19. “It could happen to anybody,” Heaven Frilot said. “That’s all I’m trying to say.”

Italy has more hospital beds per person than the United States and its medical system is as good or better than what we have in America. Unlike us, Italy has been able to perform many thousands of Covid-19 tests. Yet, Italy's hospitals are simply overwhelmed. Jason van Schoor, an anesthesiologist at University College London, received the following message from a doctor friend in northern Italy:

“I feel the pressure to give you a quick personal update about what is happening in Italy, and also give some quick direct advice about what you should do. First, Lombardy is the most developed region in Italy and has extraordinarily good healthcare. I have worked in Italy, UK and Austria, and don’t make the mistake to think that what is happening is happening in a 3rd world country.

“The current situation is difficult to imagine and numbers do not explain things at all. Our hospitals are overwhelmed by COVID-19, they are running 200% capacity. We’ve stopped all routine surgeries, all ORs have been converted to ICUs and they are now diverting or not treating all other emergencies like trauma or strokes. There are hundreds of patients with severe respiratory failure and many of them do not have access to anything above a reservoir mask. Patients above 65 or younger with comorbidities are not even assessed by ICU, I am not saying not tubed (intubated), I’m saying not assessed and no ICU staff attends when they arrest.

Staff are working as much as they can but they are starting to get sick and are emotionally overwhelmed. My friends call me in tears because they see people dying in front of them and they can only offer oxygen.

PLEASE STOP, READ THIS AGAIN AND THINK. We have seen the same pattern in different areas a week apart, and there is no reason that in a few weeks it won’t be the same everywhere, this is the pattern: A few positive cases, first mild measures, people are told to avoid crowds but still hang out in groups, everyone says not to panic. Some moderate respiratory failures and a few severe ones that need tubes, but regular access to the ER is significantly reduced so everything looks great. Tons of patients with moderate respiratory failure, that over time deteriorate to saturate ICUs first, then vents, then CPAP hoods, then even O2. Staff gets sick so it gets difficult to cover for shifts, mortality spikes also from all other causes that can’t be treated properly.
Everything about how to treat them is online but the only things that will make a difference are: do not be afraid of massively strict measures to keep people safe, If governments won’t do this at least keep your family safe, your loved ones with history of cancer or diabetes or any transplant will not be tubed if they need it even if they are young. By safe I mean YOU do not attend them and YOU decide who does and YOU teach them how to. Another typical attitude is read and listen to people saying things like this and think “that’s bad dude” and then go out for dinner because you think you’ll be safe. We have seen it, you won’t be if you don’t take it seriously. I really hope it won’t be as bad as here but prepare.
Area Court Closures and Dangerous Refusals to Close
Click here to read the emergency order issued by the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals which empowers local judges to deal with the crisis. The order says in part:

2. Subject only to constitutional limitations, all courts in Texas may in any case, civil or criminal—and must to avoid risk to court staff, parties, attorneys, jurors, and the public—without a participant’s consent:
a. Modify or suspend any and all deadlines and procedures, whether prescribed by statute, rule, or order, for a stated period ending no later than 30 days after the Governor’s state of disaster has been lifted;
b. Allow or require anyone involved in any hearing, deposition, or other proceeding of any kind—including but not limited to a party, attorney, witness, or court reporter, but not including a juror—to participate remotely, such as by teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other means;
c. Consider as evidence sworn statements made out of court or sworn testimony given remotely, out of court, such as by teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other means;
d. Conduct proceedings away from the court’s usual location, but in the county of venue, and only with reasonable notice and access to the participants and the public;
e. Require every participant in a proceeding to alert the court if the participant has, or knows of another participant who has, COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, or a fever, cough or sneezing;
f. Take any other reasonable action to avoid exposing court proceedings to the threat of COVID-19.
3.All courts in Texas may extend the statute of limitations in any civil case for a stated period ending no later than 30 days after the Governor’s state of disaster has been lifted.
4.This Order is effective as of March 13, 2020, and expires May 8, 2020, unless extended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”

As of Friday, this is the status of family law courts in surrounding counties:

Harris County: click here to read a statement from Judge Julia Maldonado, Presiding Judge of the Family Courts, that says all in-person hearings and trials for all cases but "essential court matters" are continued pending further notice. Several Harris County family court judges announced that they will allow "prove ups" by affidavit.

Galveston County: All hearings in family law cases for the week of March 16 through March 20 are canceled and will be rescheduled. Additional cancellations for future dates will be announced.

Brazoria County: Jury trials are postponed through the week of March 23, but hearings and docket calls continue.

Fort Bend County: If a party requests a reset on any case between now and April 3, the reset will be granted. All other cases will be heard as scheduled. No telephonic or video remote appearances will be allowed.

Montgomery County: Courts are still open for business.
Thank you for your support! Together We Can Make Our Profession Better and Our Courts More Fair
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 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. 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
www. divorce
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