March 29, 2014

Is Pratt Resignation/Withdrawal Actually About The Latest Criminal Complaint?

For those of you who have not been following the Denise Pratt saga closely, I'd like to point out that only a couple of months ago there was another criminal complaint (the third) filed regarding Pratt and her official conduct as Presiding Judge of the 311th Family Court here in Harris County.

Houston lawyer Robert Clark said the district attorney's office has scheduled a meeting with his new client, Karen Hyde, whose child custody case was dismissed without prior notice on Dec. 31.

Hyde's case, detailed in the third and last criminal complaint Enos filed with the district attorney's office last week, was reinstated at the request of the opposing side and went to trial earlier this month without her knowledge. At the hearing, Pratt issued an order taking away Hyde's custody of her daughter and giving it to the father.

"I've lost all faith in the whole system," Hyde said last week. "I didn't get an opportunity to at least defend myself."

Enos' complaint includes sworn affidavits from Hyde and her husband saying Pratt informed them during a hearing last April that she would "back date the order to March 5 when you were here before."

Backdating that order would be a big no-no -- it would be falsifying a public record.

Well, I got a note from Clark this evening, and he informed me of something that is quite interesting -- and which calls into question the reason Pratt gave for her withdrawal and the stories her allies are circulating about an alleged shooting incident.

The DA called my clients (who witnessed her backdate a capias order) on Friday afternoon around 3:30 pm, said it was important, and wanted to verify some facts against Pratt one last time. Her resignation came 2 1/2 hours later.

Rather interesting timing, to say the least. Clark speculated that Pratt cut some sort of deal with the DA's office -- though that is uncorroborated.

But Clark noted a couple of things in the course of our conversation that would seem to support that speculation.

Pratt spent Friday, March 28 in Austin. He was unclear if this was for a hearing before a state agency or for a workshop for family court judges (several Harris County judges were also in Austin yesterday for those reasons). If Pratt were planning to resign and drop out of the race, why would she not have stayed in Harris County?

One of Pratt's allies who has been involved in fundraising for her apparently paid calls on a number of family lawyers on Friday morning, seeking contributions (the figure $2500 was "suggested") for Pratt's campaign. Why would this have happened if Pratt were planning to drop out of the race?

Clark indicated he had spoken with a neighbor of Pratt's who indicated he has not heard gunshots in the neighborhood, nor is he aware of any incident at the Pratt home. Clark also notes that there was no indication of activity by DPS or the Texas Rangers in the neighborhood -- something that would certainly occur if there had been an attack on the home or threats against the family of a state judge like Pratt. At least that would be the case if the incidents were reported to the authorities -- and it is unthinkable that such incidents would not have been reported by Pratt if they happened, if only to ensure the safety of her family. Could it be that the stories being circulated by Pratt's allies -- such as I mentioned in my earlier post -- are merely stories?

In the course of our discussion, I asked Clark what he thought of my suggestion that Pratt could still win the runoff. He agreed it is an interesting possibility, but tossed out another issue to me -- the question of whether or not Pratt has actually communicated her resignation and its effective date to Governor Perry. Makes me wonder if this could be a Ross Perot type suspension of a campaign -- especially since April Fools day is coming up on Tuesday.

UPDATE: I have received information that my information that Pratt was in Austin on Friday is incorrect. But given that fundraising appeared to be going full tilt before lunch on Friday, there is still a question about when and why the decision to quit the bench and quit the race were made.

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Comments on Is Pratt Resignation/Withdrawal Actually About The Latest Criminal Complaint?

Might be helpful if you used proper terminology regarding the paperwork. A "criminal complaint" is a legal document prepared by a prosecutor. When it is "filed" it is given to the clerk. Neither of these occurred. Instead Greg Enos, who last I heard lives in Galveston County, prepared a document that he provided to the district attorney in Harris County. He has every legal right to do so. The First Amendment gives every citizen the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.
But nobody filed a criminal complaint.
I'm Tom Zakes and I approve this message.

|| Posted by Tom Zakes, March 30, 2014 04:18 AM ||

I'm using the terminology from the article.

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