Issue No. 106A
April 3, 2020
Fast breaking news and a few corrections to what I sent out this morning:

  1. The SBA late last night put out a new, slightly different PPP application which they insist applicants use. The link for that document is corrected below.
  2. A typo involving the 1918 Flu Pandemic is corrected (that you loyal readers for pointing that out!)
  3. Galveston County is doing some CPS hearings if they are "essential."

In this issue....

  • Family Court Covid-19 Procedures in Suburban Counties

  • Financial Assistance all Law Firms Should Apply for ASAP

Let's All Send Positive Thoughts to Our Friend, Bruce Jefferies

Bruce Jefferies needs our support and love. Pray to Eir (Norse goddess of healing) or your chosen diety, or just send positive thoughts to our friend, who is battling serious health issues. Bruce just posted this on Facebook:
Bruce is truly one the best people on the planet and what he has done for our courts in the field of drug testing has truly made a difference in the lives of many people. I cannot wait to see his smiling face in the courthouse hallway again. Meanwhile, his able and loving family is running National Screening and they are still open for business.
Keeping Bruce safe is one reason why we should stay home as much as possible and maintain physical distance. We do not want Covid-19 finding Bruce.

Harris County Cause and Effect

A Harris County judge called me to make it clear that the judges were going to issue their new uniform procedures regardless of what I wrote and it was pretty nervy of me to imply they did so because of my newsletter. Actually, all I did was point out the 100% true sequence of events by writing:

Thank you to our Harris County family court judges! The judges held a meeting Monday afternoon after my last newsletter went out and they adopted a new set of UNIFORM procedures that apply to all ten family courts while the pandemic is still upon us.

I never said the judges adopted their uniform procedure just because they read my newsletter before their Monday afternoon conclave (although a few of those judges called me about my newsletter that day before their meeting). Coincidences surely do happen, but I generally defer to the Master who had this exchange with his brother on the BBC series Sherlock ( The Sign of the Three ):
Mycroft Holmes : Oh, Sherlock. What do we say about coincidence?
Sherlock Holmes : The universe is rarely so lazy.

This exchange does not occur in the actual Canon, but Sherlock Holmes did admit coincidences do occur in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle , when he conceded,"Amid the action and reaction of so dense a swarm of humanity, every possible combination of events may be expected to take place..."

In all seriousness, I know some of the judges had been discussing a joint policy for some time and the important thing is that we now have them all on the same page. Click here to read the Harris County family courts' procedures during the pandemic.

Judge Dunson also called to let me know that I should clarify that she is comfortable with using Zoom technology, but she doubts it is appropriate to use for most contested hearings. Some of her colleagues do plan to use Zoom for hearings and even trials. My next issue will contain a sample objection to a hearing by Zoom.

I do know it was not easy to get ten judges to agree on the new policy, and it is evidence Judge Julia Maldonado is doing a really good job as presiding family court judge during these crazy times. Assuming we have an election this November, I strongly support Judge Maldonado's re-election.

Covid-19 Prediction

I think the shut down of businesses and American society will extend at least in to June. The models Trump seems to be relying on that predict that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will die assume that social distancing will be maintained through June. As much as we all want this pandemic over soon, it is going to be a long, painful and expensive mess. The 1918 Flu pandemic started in the Spring of 1918 , died down during the summer then came back with a vengeance in the Fall and most U.S. deaths occurred in December 1918 . We could be in for a similar pattern. Let's all hope that an effective vaccine is widely available by October.
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! 

Click here to see the archive of past issues of The Mongoose
Family Court Covid-19 Procedures in Suburban Counties
Family courts in the suburban counties around Houston have also adjusted their procedures for these strange times during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Galveston County

Click here to read procedures just announced Thursday by the family courts in Galveston County. The county will pay for three hour video mediations before all hearings on temporary orders. All trial and hearings in the family courts of Galveston County are cancelled until April 30, 2020 unless the Court notifies you otherwise. These cancellations include hearings in the Attorney General IVD Court and Associate Judge Steve Baker’s Court. "Essential matters" are still being heard.

Brazoria County

Click here to read procedures adopted by the two family courts in Brazoria County. Zoom video conferences are ocurring but they are not forced on lawyers and most conferences are by phone.

Fort Bend County

Click here to read the order adopted by the 328th, 387th and 505th District Courts.

Montgomery County

Click here to read procedures of the 410th District court. Judge Robin is a big fan of Zoom hearings. Click here to read her standing order for Zoom proceedings.

Judge Gilbert in the 418th is hearing "essential" matters, and is encouraging attorneys and litigants to participate in Court proceedings remotely, i.e. phone. Please contact the Court with any questions, and to arrange for a remote appearance for any hearing, trial and/or setting. Judge Gilbert is doing prove ups by phone.

Click here for the pandemic procedures of County Court No. 3 Judge McDonald. Click here for the CC3 Zoom procedures.

Financial Assistance ALL Law Firms Should Apply for ASAP
Every law firm and sole attorney should apply as soon as humanly possible for the brand new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) just enacted into federal law last week. In fact, since the "loan" can be forgiven if it is used mostly for payroll costs, you would be foolish not to apply.

Click here for the PPP "loan" application that any participating bank will need.

Here are the highlights of the PPP:

Who makes the loans? Any SBA approved lender. Banks who are SBA approved are eager to do these loans even to those who have not been their customers before. I use the excellent and efficient TexanBank and it can all be done electronically. You can get information from my bank by e-mailing: [email protected].

Who is eligible? Generally any business that has less than 500 employees, was in operation on February 15, 2020 and had employees and is able to make a good faith certification that “that the uncertainty of current economic conditions makes necessary the loan request to support the ongoing operations of the eligible recipient.” Unlike most typical SBA loans, the PPP loans are unsecured loans requiring no collateral, no personal guarantee, and no showing that credit is unavailable elsewhere.

How much can you borrow? 2.5 times your average monthly payroll costs for the previous 12 months. The costs do not include federal payroll taxes or the portion of any employee's salary over $100,000, but does include health insurance costs and retirement matches made by the employer. I calculate my law firm will be able to "borrow" $128,000.

What can you use it for? Payroll Costs, employee salaries, costs relating to the continuation of group health care benefits during paid sick, family or medical leave, group healthcare premiums, mortgage interest payments, Rent and Utilities, and interest on any other debt incurred before February 15, 2020.

What is the interest rate and term? No payments for six months, interest is 1.0% and the term is two years.

How much can be forgiven? 8 weeks of expenditures starting on the date you receive the loan for the following costs: Payroll Costs, Mortgage interest, Rent and Utilities. Only 25 percent of the amount of loan forgiveness can consist of costs not defined as payroll costs. THE FORGIVEN PORTION OF THE LOAN IS TREATED AS CANCELED DEBT AND IS NOT TAXABLE!

What are the qualifications? This program waives the SBA "credit elsewhere" test and a personal guarantee is not required.

When can I apply: Beginning April 3, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply through any existing SBA lender. Beginning April 10, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply.

What documents do I need: Payroll documentation will be required. My bank had me provide my 2019 IRS forms 941 and a detailed payroll report from Quickbooks. SBA has told banks that they can rely on representations made by borrowers and are not required to verify any of the information on the PPP application for the loan or a later request to forgive part of the loan. The bank will provide you a calculation spreadsheet to determine how much you are eligible to borrow.

Click here to download the documentation checklist my bank required.

There is going to be a mad rush to apply for these "loans," so the sooner you apply, the quicker you can get the funds.

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

Click here to see the archive of past issues of The Mongoose