Despite what many people think, the judicial system in Texas is fraught with judges and attorneys who are willing to stretch—and sometimes deliberately violate—the law for the sake of their own agendas. The battle for parental rights and home schooling freedom in Texas has taken THSC through the ditches of the Texas judicial system. Additionally, we have become aware of the courtrooms of judges who conduct themselves in a manner that should draw into serious question the criteria with which they interpret our laws.
Judge Lisa Beebe
Chassidie Russell recalls, “I didn’t even get to tell her goodbye. They took my daughter away.” Why was her daughter taken away? For Grandparent alienation. There were no allegations of child molestation, abuse, or drug or alcohol problems. There was only an allegation of grandparent alienation, and the Russells were left floored.
Judge Tena Callahan
In January 2014 District Judge Tena Callahan rendered an order finding that there had been no cause for CPS’s illegal removal of the Tutt children from their household. However, Judge Callahan then refused to close the case, despite agreeing that the suit brought against the family was unwarranted.
Judge Randy Catterton
In October of 2007, just days after his wife’s death, Jim Loose was served with papers initiated by his late wife’s father, who alleged one thing—and one thing only: that Jim should not allow his daughter to attend her own mother’s funeral. This Fort Worth Judge’s “temporary” orders against Jim Loose lasted three years, as Jim neared bankruptcy, represented himself in court, and faced the reality that he might never see his daughter again.
Judge Michael Chitty
On July 2, 2019, the family appeared in court for a legally required hearing to determine whether the removal was proper. Although the original removal had been authorized by a different judge, for unknown reasons Judge Michael Chitty stepped in to conduct the July 2nd hearing. Judge Chitty ignored the overwhelming evidence in favor of the family and authorized CPS to keep Drake for up to a year, a decision which would later be reversed by the Texas Supreme Court.
Judge Eric Clifford
This District Judge in Lamar County, Texas, has repeatedly flouted the moral and ethical codes required of his office. Not once, not twice. The State Commission has cited eleven times Judge Clifford has broken the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. Many of Judge Clifford’s attorney appointments violated the Texas Fair Defense Act, he’s made public comments about his cases before indictment, and has remained on the board of the Lamar National Bank to “protect his family’s substantial investment” in the bank (of which he was a founding member).
Judge Sheri Y. Dean
Judge Sheri Y. Dean, who presides over the 309th Family District Court in Harris County, ordered a home schooling mother of four to move from San Antonio to Houston and instructed her to place her children in public school. This family found themselves in court after the father filed for a divorce in 2011. The father was found to be at fault in the divorce, and the suit for disillusionment of marriage was granted.
Judge Dennise Garcia
In March of 2012 Judge Dennise Garcia (District Judge, 303rd Court in Dallas) reduced a father from a Joint Managing Conservator to a Possessory Conservator based wholly on unsupported child abuse allegations made by the child’s mother.
Judge Jeanine Howard
Most of society recognizes rape as the heinous crime that it is, which is why the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government work so hard to ensure adequate justice served. But not Dallas Judge Jeanine Howard. When an 18 year old male raped a 14 year old classmate in his school, he received a mere five years of probation and 45 days in jail, and was expected to complete 250 hours of community service at a rape crisis center.
Judge David Lopez
Judge David Lopez has a well-known reputation of being a procrastinator—that is, having a hearing and then not issuing any orders for months, letting the parties stew in uncertainty. In this case, the father had appealed a prior order which gave his minor children the authority to make their own possession decisions regarding time spent with him. This illegitimate order was reversed by the Dallas Fifth Court of Appeals (CoA) and remanded back to the trial court to issue a new order.
Judge Cindy Mendoza
Judges hold an important and powerful position within our society. Being the ones to whom legal disputes are brought, judges also have a very high responsibility: to ensure the law is followed, both outside and inside the courtroom. However, Judge Cindy Mendoza seems to have forgotten that laws are still laws, even during a court hearing.
Judge Etta Mullin
The Texas Code of Judicial Conduct was established to hold judges to a level of conduct that we should expect from the individuals who serve in such a high capacity. When judges fail to meet this level of conduct it deserves our attention. Etta Mullin is one such judge who blatantly violated the judicial code.
Judge Graciela Olvera
On November 21, 2013 seven children from a homeschool family in Duncanville were forcibly removed from their home, in spite of no evidence of abuse or neglect, by order of Judge Graciela Olvera of the 256th District Court of Dallas County. Judge Olvera issued a removal order at an ex-parte hearing in which the parents were not represented nor notified. Two of the children are still in CPS custody.
Judge John F. Phillips
After their parents tested positive for excessive drug use, two infants were sent to live with their grandparents, Yolanda and Arnold Del Bosque. Yolanda and Arnold were mature, safe, and responsible, and had been verified as stable by CPS and other agencies in numerous reports. The Del Bosques’ home was exactly the sort of environment the kids, Luis and Rafael, should be in. However, that did not stop Judge John Phillips from tearing the children from their grandparents and sending them to foster homes, because the Del Bosques’, at age 52 and 59, “were too old”.
Judge Denise Pratt
Without any evidence, Judge Pratt decided a Houston mother was unfit and required her to surrender her medically-fragile child for visitation with her father-in-law, who had no legal claim on the child. Additionally, area attorneys filed a criminal complaint against Judge Pratt, accusing her of falsifying court documents and calling on her to resign. In a Houston Bar Association Poll, 77% of attorneys rated her poor on following the law, and 80% said that she did not rule decisively and in a timely manner.
Judge Timothy Wright
In America, nobody is above the law. In a statement made to reporters in May, former Williamson County Judge Timothy Wright agreed, “I sincerely apologize to my family, friends and the people of Williamson County for any discredit or embarrassment I may have created as a result of my actions.”