Issue No. 100
August 26, 2019
In this issue....

  • Book Review - Stryker: The Siege of Sadr City
  • Home Refinancing for Clients and Attorneys
  • Ricardo Ramos Part 1: Now A Friend of Democrats?
  • Ricardo Ramos Part 2: Do Not Rush to Judge Him!
  • Advanced Family Law Seminar and Family Code Changes

Do Not Spit on Judges or Punch Lawyers!

Click here to read about a women sentenced to three years in prison for spitting on a Galveston County judge.

It is almost never a good idea to punch another lawyer, no matter how tempting it might be. Last week, a once-famous, millionaire lawyer slapped me before a deposition and the whole incident was caught on my office security cameras. Click here to see the video of the slap and my hyper-calm reaction that would have made Mahatma Gandhi proud.
I will now think about a case differently when a client or witness says she was slapped by a spouse or boyfriend. A slap with an open hand or closed fist can really hurt physically and it does even more than that to the victim emotionally. No matter how crazy or angry or drunk the person is who does the hitting, the injury that hitting causes to a child or spouse involves more than bruises or cuts.

At least my masculine pride was unscathed in this event, because dropping some bone crushing kung fu on an overweight old man would not have made me feel better about myself. I was perhaps more upset by the reaction of my assailant's lawyers, as they seemed to think his assault was amusing. They sure high tailed it when I told my receptionist to call the police. It seemed like the entire Webster police department responded within minutes, but no SWAT action was needed.

Lessons from this event include the need for security cameras in law offices and staff training on what to do if a crazy person shows up yelling and wanting to fight. When told my ass was going to be kicked, I did tell this pitiful old man that I would like to see that happen. Then he surprised me with the hit. Maybe, I should be trained in de-escalation with the mentally unstable. But, one hard slap is not an ass kicking. It is in fact a very foolish mistake that can result in criminal charges, sanctions in the civil case, and a Bar grievance.
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. 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
   Please forward this e-mail newsletter to everyone who cares about our family courts! 
Book Review - Stryker: The Siege of Sadr City
A veteran friend told me a little about how he was injured in Iraq and he suggested that I read a book written by a member of his unit. I consumed "Stryker: The Siege of Sadr City" by Konrad R.K. Ludwig in two days. It is a harrowing, mind blowing explanation of what we sent our soldiers to do and why so many came home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

During the “Surge” ordered by President Bush to put down Shia militia rebellion in Iraq, American forces tried to wrestle control of Sadr City from the Mahdi Army. It is almost unbelievable how bad the conditions were and what our soldiers had to endure. This book is graphic, but it does not glorify war or killing. At one point, Ludwig realizes he is fighting not for his country, but for his buddies and for the Iraqi families he knew he was liberating from the brutal militia. In 2008, the command decided to penetrate to the heart of militia held territory and seize a former school. Ludwig’s Stryker battalion did so and then had to hold the position through days of attacks from a much larger enemy force. Ludwig spent three days and nights with almost no sleep at one upper window manning his M240B machine gun. One night, he found himself, for a few intense minutes, in a duel with an Iraqi sniper. This is part of what he wrote:

"Holy f***! I was gripped with shock. He's shooting at me! My heart took off like a racehorse out of the stall at the Derby. It wasn't hard to piece together that he was one of those snipers we had been warned about and that I was the target of opportunity he was looking for. Trying desperately to tighten up my group, I squeezed the butt-stock harder against my shoulder and flung another burst of rounds down range.

He took a third shot. I saw the flash and heard another crack. Another snap as a bullet tore right by my face, and my mind went blank.

Again, I squeezed harder against the butt-stock and did everything I could to tighten my cone of fire. When I let off the trigger, I watched the last few rounds slam into the scenery all around him — my tightest group yet. There was a short moment of silence. I thought I may have hit him, but the silence was broken by another crack of his rifle. As soon as I saw the flash, I flinched. My eyes slammed shut uncontrollably and I could feel every muscle in my body shaking with fear. Instead of opening my eyes to return fire, I squeezed down on my machine gun like a teddy bear and waited for that final round. I would've cried if I had tears left to do it.

I heard another crack, and the next round rapped right by my head like the others. With my eyes closed, I could feel the warm air graze the hairs on my neck and leave a faint tickle that seemed to spare my life by little more than the width and tangibility of a nightmare — as though it had graced me with a faint kiss and moved on. A line of goose bumps rose up around the left side of my neck and I screamed at the top of my lungs. “F*** this shit!” For the second time in my life, I couldn't shake the image or sensation of getting shot in the face and feeling my body go limp as it fell to the ground. This is it, I clenched my teeth at the thought of it. This time it's really happening."

I knew I had been lucky that night of our first raid and I didn't expect to repeat history and survive, but something else took over in that moment which I've never been able to explain. It was a strange kind of determination, if only to die with my eyes open and doing something to survive. Without thinking much about it, I ripped open my eyes and picked him back up in my sights. My knuckles still white with terror, I held my breath, jammed down the trigger, and let out a long, drawn out, desperate flood of rounds. I can't even tell you what I was thinking. Maybe something along the lines of “If it's my turn, I'm going out with a bang,” and “Everything with a beginning has an end.” Then again it could've just as easily been the lowest form of human instinct that can ever be conveyed. A thought barely higher up on the totem pole than basic motor function, yet far down below the lowest bar of what we esteem to be an intellect.

The fact is that I sprayed the walls, I sprayed the upper and lower extents of the balcony, and I sprayed back-and-forth along the width of that little slit through which he was shooting. I prayed to the gods that at least one of those g**damned bullets would hit "him. I held down that trigger until my throat went dry and my voice cracked. It seemed like forever. The barrel of my gun heated up until it warped the very air through which I was looking and the cycling action peppered my face with a dozen hot, black drops of carbon. Burning gas of exploding cartridges seeped into my tear-ducts and stung my eyeballs. Blood curdling fear reached in and pulled the life right out of my lungs. All I cared about was sucking in that grouping and putting as many rounds as I could into the smallest cone of fire imaginable.

When I let my finger off the trigger I saw the smallest glimmer of relief. A rifle dropped off the ledge and tumbled down to the street below. I was heaving and panting like a dog. My vision was pulsing and my fever was flaring up. But even through the fuzzy haze of stinging tears and gasping breaths, I could see his arm hang limp off the edge of the balcony, his body inert and unmoving. His head dangled down to the ground at a singularly lifeless angle. He was completely still — deader than a rusty nail."

It turns out that the dead sniper’s shots had all hit the wall behind him within millimeters of Ludwig’s head. He had once again barely survived. Later, a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) headed straight for his window miraculously hit a thin utility pole a few feet in front of him and exploded and he was again spared. The next day, after another full day of no sleep, constant vigilance, and firing at enemy scouts, the unit was warned by intelligence that a team of five more snipers was headed their way in a silver, four door Opal sedan with tinted windows and a missing front hub cap. The implied warning was to destroy the car before it delivered the snipers. Less than 20 minutes later, a silver, four door Opal rounded the corner of a distant street just within range of Ludwig’s gun. Through his scope, he could see five silohouettes, tinted windows and a missing hub cap. So, Ludwig opened fire and pumped about a hundred rounds into the car. Then, this:

It was obvious the driver was dead. I would have been surprised if anybody survived the barrage, so I chuckled lightly with smug pride in what I had done. Then the rear passenger door cracked open and a young boy fell out into the street. He tried to walk, but his blown out shin crumbled under his first step and he flopped down to the earth in a bloody, half conscious pile. It was like a sack of mush coming to rest on the floor. I scanned back over the car. Now that it wasn't moving and the tinted windows were all shattered, I could get a better look at the people inside — people who I had just mowed down with a smile. I steadied my aim to scan the car through the haze of dust and darkness of the sandstorm rolling in. Counting the boy in the street, I could see five bodies from the car. And as I looked closer into the wreckage, I faced the true horror of what I had done. I had just killed a family. An innocent family. A family of people who had no good reason to die. Their blood was splattered everywhere. They were riddled with bullets. Their bodies hung from seat belts, lifeless and maimed. There wasn't a single sniper among them. Just a family. A family who was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong f***ing car.

This is what we sent our young men to do while we lived our normal lives and barely paid attention to the news of the Iraq war. They fought, died, killed, and suffered in a war we now know should have never been started. The school that Ludwig’s unit paid such a price to capture was abandoned a few days later and the militia moved back in and the war went on. This is why so many suffer PTSD and why the struggle to understand the disease and get veterans proper treatment is so important. They bravely did what they were told to do and now suffer for what they did for us. Today, please hug a vet and say,"thank you."

Click here to order Stryker from
Home Refinancing for Clients and Attorneys
Mortgage interest rates have fallen to an almost three year low. Lower rates may mean that lawyers and their clients should look into refinancing. Our clients may find that refinancing to remove an ex-spouse from a loan may now be easier or that monthly payments might be less than expected if the client has to go out and buy a new home. Attorneys with mortgages should check to see if it makes sense for us to refinance our own loans right now.

Divorce attorneys should routinely refer clients to mortgage brokers early in their cases to see what they can qualify for (and to learn if they have any credit problems sooner rather than later).
Homeowners with a Texas home equity loan can lower their interest AND take advantage of recent changes in Texas law.  The new “Texas 50(a)(4)” rate/term refinance frees up options for future home equity later. It has always been the law that Texas homeowners can only have one home equity loan at a time. Prior to the existence of the “a4” option, a Texas home equity loan could only be refinanced into a new Texas home equity loan. The main drawback of this was the lost ability to open up a second home equity loan or line of credit. Provided that certain conditions are met, Texas law now allows homeowners to refinance a home equity loan as a non-home equity refinance loan. Refinancing into a new “a4” loan, means another home equity second loan could be available in the future for the homeowner. A home equity second loan can be a cheap alternative, now or in the future, for home improvements or other smaller loan needs (such as legal fees) without the costs of redoing the entire mortgage package.
Lawyers should also consider whether a refinance of their own mortgages makes sense now. One way to answer this question is a simple formula: Interest rate savings vs. upfront costs over time. A mortgage broker can help you calculate what your monthly interest rate savings would be and what the refinance would cost. Basic information about your current loan will allow a qualified mortgage originator to quickly lay out possible refinance options:
Information to Gather:
Current Loan Balance
Term remaining in months or years
Current Interest Rate
Current Monthly Payment (with and without escrows)
Current Home Value
It does not cost anything to call and see if a refinance makes sense for you. I may be very biased, but I generally refer people to my brother for mortgage questions:
Paul Enos
NMLS # 350086
Paul is also a lawyer and he is working for me part-time on financial aspects of a few large property cases. He knows how to help divorce clients with home loans and he certainly has helped me with my own mortgages.
Ricardo Ramos Part 1: Now A Friend of Democrats?
First, the story I was planning to publish before news broke last week of former Associate Judge Ricardo Ramos being arrested and charged for assaulting and choking his wife, former Associate Judge Chelsie Ramos.

There are some donations that Democrats who believe in their cause should refuse, just as their are some political donors that real Republicans should shun. Ted Cruz would be expected to reject a large donation from the president of Planned Parenthood, for example. I question why our Democratic judges are accepting large political donations from Ricardo Ramos, who came very close to being elected GOP County Chair in 2016, who has regularly supported Republican candidates and who, in 2015, donated $15,000 to Dr. Hotze's bigoted, ignorant, and misleading campaign against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Ramos also donated $10,000 to another Hotze PAC, Conservative Republicans of Texas, less than two months after the HERO repeal election in Houston. Is he really someone real Democrats should be accepting contributions from?
Here are Mr. Ramos' recent contributions.
One Democratic judge who Ramos recently contributed to was Glora Lopez. The $2,000 Ramos gave to the Lopez campaign on February 1, 2019 was the single biggest contribution from an individual to Lopez (2 law firms and a union gave either $2,000 or more). Coincidentally, Mr. Ramos represented a father in a bitter custody case before Judge Lopez that had an important hearing on February 1, 2019. The opinion from the Court of Appeals granting mandamus against Judge Lopez for ruling in favor of Ramos and denying the opposing party a jury trial says this:

On February 1, 2019 , the trial court conducted a telephonic pretrial conference
that was not recorded. It is undisputed that, during the conference, Goetz [the father, represented by Ric Ramos] withdrew his request for a jury trial and that the trial court reset the case for a bench trial on March 4, 2019. The mandamus record shows that, later on February 1, 2019, Webb [the mother, represented by Jared Woodfill] filed a written request for a jury trial and paid the fee. In her request, Webb stated that, during the conference, Goetz had unilaterally withdrawn his request for a jury trial over her objection. On February 27, 2019, the trial court conducted a pretrial hearing, in part, on Webb’s written request for a jury trial. During the hearing, a record of which has been filed in the instant proceeding, the trial court heard argument of counsel and admitted documentary evidence. Testimony was not presented. Counsel for Goetz argued that Webb’s request for a jury trial constituted a dilatory tactic. Specifically, Goetz asserted, notwithstanding the timeliness of Webb’s request, she had previously delayed trial by changing attorneys, had previously failed to timely respond to discovery, and had failed to prosecute her counterclaims. The trial court noted that the case had been on file for over two years and had been reset for trial 13 times by one or both parties. The trial court warned that if it granted Webb’s request for a jury trial, it would not reset trial again. The trial court stated, “If you [counsel for Webb] ask for a jury trial and I grant it, you are going to a jury on Monday [March 4, 2019].” Counsel for Webb responded, “That’s what we want.” Goetz argued, “Even if you [trial court] push the case to trial on Monday and have the trial by jury, you should not reward the kind of behavior essentially that [Webb] has engaged in throughout the context of this lawsuit.” The trial court then orally denied Webb’s request for a jury trial and ordered the parties to appear, as scheduled, for a bench trial on Monday, March 4, 2019.

Click here to read the opinion of the Court of Appeals which conditionally granted the mandamus against Judge Lopez. This decision should remind us all to insist on a record of telephonic meetings with judges and it is a great primer on how a request for a jury trial works. The Court ruled:

Once “any party has paid the fee for a jury trial, he shall not be permitted to withdraw the cause from the jury docket over the objection of the parties adversely interested.” TEX. R. CIV. P. 220.
. . . .
Notably, the record shows that, from August 2018 to February 1, 2019, this case was set to go to a jury on February 4, 2019. And, it was not until three days before trial that the trial court reset the case for a non-jury trial on the March 4, 2019 docket. Importantly, the record of the February 27, 2019 hearing shows that the trial court stated that it could set the case on the jury docket for Monday, March 4, 2019. The trial court stated: “If you [Webb] ask for a jury trial and I grant it, you are going to a jury on Monday [March 4, 2019].” And, Webb responded, “That’s what we want.” Goetz also acknowledged at the hearing that the case could be set for a jury trial on Monday, March 4, 2019. He simply complained that doing so would “reward” Webb for past behavior. The trial court then orally denied Webb’s request and retained the case on the non-jury docket.

Again, “a trial court should accord the right to a jury trial if it can be done without interfering with the court’s docket, delaying trial, or injuring the opposing party.” Goetz did not present any evidence that granting Webb’s request for a jury trial, rather than a non-jury trial, on the same date would interfere with the court’s docket, delay trial, or cause him injury. Thus, we hold that the trial court abused its discretion in denying Webb’s request for a jury trial...

I am very sure that Judge Lopez did not rule for Mr. Ramos' client because of the hefty contribution Ramos had just made. The judge seemed to have every reason to not want to allow the mother to delay trial once again. But, the appearance is just not good. The optics for a Democrat officeholder are particularly bad because Lopez accepted a donation from a Republican who had campaigned for GOP party chair in 2016 and who said he was against everything real Democrats believe in. Worse, Ramos had just recently made a huge donation to bigots trying to oppress the LGBT community.

Democratic Judges who will not face re-election for another four years are not that desperate for campaign funds now and they can and should refuse donations from those who have stood for everything the Democratic Party opposes. Also, really big donations from lawyers with very active cases in a judge's court should also merit close scrutiny because of the bad appearance it creates. Lopez (and all of the other Democratic judges) should have refused or returned Mr. Ramos' contributions. In fact, they should return the money now.
Ricard Ramos Part 2: Do Not Rush to Judge Him
Family lawyers across the state were sharing last week a copy of the following felony complaint against former Associate Judge Ricardo Ramos for allegedly assaulting (by choking) his wife, former Associate Judge Chelsie Ramos. The two enhancement paragraphs caused perhaps more gossip than the domestic violence allegation because the complaint alleged that Mr. Ramos had previously been convicted of Assault with a Deadly Weapon and felony Indecency with a Child. It turns out that apparently the D.A. screwed up and a different Mr. Ramos in Amarillo with the exact same birth date as Ricardo received those convictions.
Unlike the Harris County D.A. apparently, I checked the criminal records in Potter County and the person with those two prior convictions is Adam Ramos and he has the same birth date as Ricardo Ramos. A person named Adam Ramos is a registered sex offender because of the 2012 indecency charge whereas the Ricardo Ramos we know is not a registered sex offender. I have communicated with Ric and he says that is absolutely not him. It does seem very unlikely that a person with those two felony convictions would keep their law license or have ever been appointed to be a judge.

Ricardo Ramos denies the assault charge and he asks that everyone respect his family's privacy during this difficult time. Ric Ramos was, until this past week, a lawyer with Holmes, Diggs & Sadler (where Chelsie Ramos also works), but he has now been deleted from that firm's web site.

I have always liked Chelsie Ramos. I think she was a darn good judge and I know she is a good lawyer as she just kicked by butt in a trial recently. I may disagree with Ric Ramos' political views and how he uses the many connections he had until last week, but I have always liked the rascal on a personal level.

Chelsie deserves our support and friendship and Ric deserves the legal presumption of innocence. We all should remember there are two beautiful little girls involved and our thoughts should be mostly about how all this will affect them. It is a sad story all the way around. It does now seem even more unlikely that Democrats will accept campaign contributions from Ric Ramos in the future.

To be clear, I have written this article about what otherwise should be a private issue for two lawyers we all know only because copies of the criminal complaint had been so widely shared and because the complaint seems to contain some serious errors which makes a very bad situation for Ric Ramos seem terrible.
Advanced Family Law Seminar and Family Code Changes
The presentations at the 2019 Advanced Family Law Seminar in San Antonio seemed better than usual, but the Marriott was totally messed up with remodeling. Here are the highlights of what I learned:

  • The first substantive presentation included a case that reminds us how we should word Mediated Settlement Agreements on dividing 401k plans. Jonjak v. Griffith, 03-18-00118-CV (Tex. App. - Austin - 4/12/19)(mem. op.) tells us that the MSA should specifically say that the spouse is awarded XXX from the 401k plus or minus gains or losses from the date of mediation [or divorce]. Click here to read this opinion that holds that the "plus or minus gains or losses" language does not go into the divorce decree unless it is in the MSA.

  • The guideline child support maximum will increase from $8,550.00 in net monthly resources to $9,200.00 as of September 1, 2019. This means that monthly guideline maximums for one child will now be $1,840 (up from $1,710) and for two kids will be $2,300 per month (up from $2,137.50).

  • Citation by publication is undergoing a big change and publication must include posting on a state-wide Internet website. I will write in detail on this in upcoming issues.

  • Agreements Incident to Divorce officially do not have to be filed with the district clerk. Some are calling the revised Sec. 7.006(b) the "Maldonado amendment" because Judge Julia Maldonado had been requiring that AID's be filed.

  • A new parental right has been added: the right to apply for, renew and maintain the child's passport. See new Sec. 153.132(10).

  • The mean SPO trick of the non-primary parent going far way with the child during extended summer possession so as to thwart the other parent's "take away" weekend is still permitted by the new Sec. 153.312(c), but now the parent who has 30 days of extended possession in the summer must notify the other parent of where the changes of possession for that "take away" weekend will be 15 days in advance.
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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