Ella Wheeler Wilcox (from Poems of Purpose, 1916)

“To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance and lust,
The Inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many”…..

“Together, attorneys can improve our family courts!”

In this Issue

Count One: Submitting CPS Pay Vouchers That Simply Cannot Be True

Count Two: Billing for CPS Work After She Became Judge

Count Three: Accepting a Campaign Contribution From a Party to a Case She Was The Amicus Attorney On

Count Four: Billing for Non-Lawyer Tasks Such as “Post Office Runs”

Count Five: Falsely Asking to be “Re-Elected”

Enos Schools County Auditor and Harangues County Judge Emmett

Alicia Franklin Became a Judge on June 13, 2014, the Date of her Secret Swearing In Ceremony
Judicial Candidate Forum and Seminar
The bi-partisan group, Family Lawyers for Good Judges, is sponsoring a debate between all of the candidates for family courts in contested elections in Harris County on September 12, 2014. Here is the information on this event:
Date and Time: Friday, September 12, 2014 – 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Location: South Texas College of Law, Joe Green Auditorium, 4th Floor, 1303 San Jacinto St., Houston TX 77002

Cost: $150.00; 25% discount for Associate Members; Full Members are free of charge, Box lunch included

CLE: 4.0 hours, 1.0 hour ethics included

Click here to download the registration form for this event.

Click here to download the membership form to join this group. Click here for the group’s by-laws.

The folks putting on this event want to make it clear – Greg Enos has absolutely nothing to do with their organization or this candidate forum.

Count Four: Billing for Non-Lawyer Tasks Such as “Post Office Runs”

Alicia Franklin billed the county for one hour of work on May 6, 2014 in Cause No. 2014-02035J for “prepare letter to client, prepare to mail and post office run.” In Cause No. 2008-02442J, Franklin billed a quarter of an hour twice for “post office run” on April 10 and May 19, 2014. Attorneys simply do not bill their clients for running to the post office and Harris County tax payers should not be charged for such work either.

On May 1, 2014, Franklin billed the county in Cause No. 2013-41503 a quarter of an hour to e-file a document. She did the same thing on May 7, 2014 in Cause No. 2013-39931 when she charged a quarter of an hour for “e-filed affidavit.”  Again, this is something clerical staff do in most law offices and I have never heard of lawyers billing clients for that sort of work.

Franklin also billed the county frequently for merely printing documents, something attorneys or their clerical staff do simply by pushing a button. I have never heard of attorneys charging clients to print documents. In Cause No. 2011-04867-J, on May 5, 2014, for example, Franklin billed the county for 15 minutes (0.25 hours) to print a CPS report on what must be a really slow printer and then Franklin, on the same day, billed the county one hour to review the same report. It would be a very rare CPS report that was more than 6 – 8 pages long and an average reader can read such reports in ten minutes or less. Attorneys should not bill the county to just print documents.

Click here to see these examples of Franklin billing for non-lawyer work.

Tax payers should not pay attorneys to print documents, e-file pleadings, lick envelopes or drive to the post office to put envelopes in the mail box. These amazing time entries are proof that the CPS lawyers submitting invoices have no shame and no fear of their bills being reviewed. It is definite proof that the judges do not even read the time entries being submitted before they approve them for payment.
Count Five: Falsely Asking to be “Re-Elected”

Someone actually reads this little newsletter. Sherri Cothrun complained that Alicia Franklin was improperly using the phrase,”Re-Elect Alicia Franklin” on her website, but the naive Chronicle editor thought Cothrun was just being picky and “hyper technical.” Franklin apparently saw no need to change her web site after their Monday meeting with the Houston Chronicle editorial board.

However, after my newsletter that pointed this “re-elect versus keep” problem out was published last Thursday, Franklin quickly changed her website.

Franklin’s problem is that it was simply not true and it was unethical for her to ask to be “re-elected” if she has never been elected in the first place. I checked with the Commission on Judicial Conduct and confirmed that an appointed judge cannot use the phrase “re-elect” (they also cannot falsely claim to be a Rhodes Scholar or to have flown on the space shuttle either). The Code of Judicial Conduct applies to JUDGE Franklin just as it does to all judicial candidates. Canon 5,(1)(ii), says,”a judge or judicial candidate shall not knowingly or recklessly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning the candidate…”

Anyone with political experience would have known that an appointed judge cannot ask voters to “re-elect” her, so this was not a mistake. Franklin’s team has plenty of political experience. However, the common thread you should see running through all of the articles in this newsletter is this: a smart person is making the sleazy choice and expecting to not get caught or called out on it.

A judge telling the truth to voters and knowing the rules and following them does not just involve a “hyper-technical” application of some rule. A judge in family court has to apply “hyper-technical” rules of law to parents and parties and sometimes punish people who do not follow the rules.

The arrogance of the attitude that “the Republicans are going to sweep this election so no one is going to care what we do” is wrong and disgusting. That was almost verbatim what I was told when I first broke the news to the Franklin camp of the distressing stories in this newsletter.

I have yet to hear anything like “Oh my gosh, if we screwed up we will get to the bottom of it, and apologize and make it right.” When I called out Judge Meca Walker for accepting $20,000 in improper campaign contributions last Fall, she immediately recognized the error, apologized and returned the money. That is what a person who cares about right and wrong does.

Enos Schools County Auditor and Harangues County Judge Emmett

Lawyers are stealing tax payer dollars and the system in place at Harris County allows it. Here are the problems:

1. A paper based system from the 1950’s is still in use. Lawyers fill out the pay vouchers by hand, the judges sign the vouchers and then they go to the County Auditor, who pays the amounts approved by the judges, no questions asked.

2. A judge, who may approve dozens of pay vouchers a week, cannot see what an attorney is billing in other cases in that same court or in other courts.

3. No one until me ever took a mass of vouchers from one single attorney and extracted the fees charged on all cases for a particular day to see what the attorney is billing the county for on that day. This is how Alicia Franklin got busted billing 23.5 hours in one day. If I can “audit” vouchers, why can’t the County Auditor?

4. The real problem is that no one has any incentive to closely monitor the CPS pay system. The judges are picking their pals for the appointments and therefore obviously want them to make money. The attorneys do not want their vouchers audited either. They have figured out that they can make a lot of money by submitting almost any hours they can make up and no one is ever going to care or catch them.

The simple solution is to go to an all electronic reporting system, like the State makes candidates use for reporting campaign contributions. Candidates must enter their information into a database program that automatically uploads the data to the State database that we can all search. Click here to see just how searchable the Texas Ethics Commission campaign finance database is.

The county should make ALL billing and pay information for appointed attorneys viewable on line by everyone, including judges and reporters. Our family and juvenile judges should demand that all court appointments and all fees for appointed attorneys be reported. Simple transparency will eliminate a lot of the abuses.

It would also help if our County Auditor actually audited some attorney vouchers on a random basis to keep everyone honest. However, the County Auditor is hired, fired and managed by the district judges of Harris County. How gung ho will the auditor be to audit the CPS invoices her bosses have already approved?

Lastly, we need to replace every single judge involved in this dirty CPS court appointment business, which is about three judges in the family courts and at least two of the three juvenile courts.

The children and tax payers of Harris County deserve better!
Alicia Franklin Became a Judge on June 13, 2014, the Date of Her Secret Swearing In
Alicia Franklin was appointed Judge of the 311th District Court by Governor Perry on June 13, 2014. That same day, Franklin had her friend and mentor, Judge Lisa Millard, swear her in as judge in a private ceremony. I soon heard that Franklin had been sworn in but no one would tell me the details. I asked Franklin’s fiance, Doug York, and he would not tell me, so I really became interested. I e-mailed Judge David Farr and District Clerk Chris Daniel and even Doug York and Alicia Franklin, but Farr and Daniel did not know and it took a while for me to learn the truth from Franklin and her fiance. At the time, I could not fathom why the exact date Franklin took office was a secret. Now that I see Franklin was billing the county for CPS lawyer work she did from June 13 – June 17, I think I understand.

Doug York e-mailed me on June 18 and said, in part:

However, since not knowing is driving you crazy the Doug York in me now wants to keep you guessing and apparently very frustrated…..

But alas, here’s a clue…..on the day she got the call from the Gov it would make sense to get sworn in by another family court judge she’s friends with now wouldn’t it…..but of course I’m not divulging anything as I am merely the small minion, a cog in the proverbial wheel….

On June 24, Franklin herself e-mailed me:

From: Alicia K. Franklin
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 5:29 PM
To: Greg Enos
Subject: Responding to your email of June 17
Hi Greg,
It has been amazing sitting as Judge of the 311th. Things are moving along and we are moving in the right direction. I look forward to seeing you in the 311th.
I wanted to follow up with you regarding the swearing in and upcoming investiture however I was waiting for confirmation that the ceremonial court was available at the date and time certain.
I was sworn in the day of my appointment by the Governor, June 13th, by Judge Lisa Millard. There will be a public ceremony that will take place in the ceremonial courtroom on the 17th floor of the civil courthouse on Friday, August 15, 2014 at noon with a catered reception to follow in the courtroom adjacent the ceremonial courtroom on the 17th floor.
. . . .

I obtained a copy of the oath of office Franklin signed on June 13, 2014 from the Secretary of State:
There can be no doubt, Franklin became a judge on June 13.

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 very 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.
Attorney Greg Enos

SOURCE: The Mongoose , Attorney Greg B. Enos; see also Divorce Reality Blog

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