Buy My Book Here

Fox News Ticker

Please check out my new books, "Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney's Kafkaesque Divorce and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World's Last Custody Trial"

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Tarrant County Courts: An Examination


(Judge Judith Wells of Tarrant County, from her Twitter

Tarrant County has had a longstanding reputation for bias and corruption in its court. 

In one notorious incident, Texas District Judge George Gallagher of Tarrant County used electroshocks on a defendant, Terry Lee Morris, when Morris was tried and convicted of solicitation in 2016. 

The story received widespread coverage after an appeal's court reversed the conviction, citing the judge's behavior. Here's part of a story from the Dallas News

Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher told a bailiff to shock Morris three times when he didn't answer the judge as directed, according to court transcripts cited in the appeals court's opinion. The shocks scared Morris so much that he was afraid to return to the courtroom, missing part of his trial.

Stun belts, which deliver an eight-second, 50,000-volt shock by remote control, are typically used on defendants accused of violent crimes who pose security threats in court. But the appeals court said the stun belt was not used that way on Morris.

"While the trial court's frustration with an obstreperous defendant is understandable, the judge's disproportionate response is not," Justice Yvonne T. Rodriguez said in the court's opinion. "We do not believe that trial judges can use stun belts to enforce decorum.

In 2016, then District Judge Mike Sinha, also from Tarrant County, said on tape, "I have a lot lot of liberty and a lot of discretion as a district court judge when it comes to families.  The Family Code is fair.  And the District Court has the opportunity to do things that are Constitutional and unconstitutional."

 
If the video has been disabled, check it out here.  

The video got around and Sihna lost his next election

I was first introduced to Tarrant County when I did a 2015 article for Capital Research Center entitled "Making Divorce Pay". In the article, I interviewed Jennifer Olson, an activist from Tarrant County. The article was about a group called the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), but Olson described how AFCC teamed up locally with Tarrant County judges to take advantage of access and visitation grants. 

Fatherhood grants and Access Visitation grants are creations borne out of the landmark welfare reform bill of 1996. Jennifer Olson is executive director of the Protective Parents Coalition, a Texas-based family court reform group, and she says all AV Grants in her state are run through the office of Anita Stuckey, an AFCC member who is also the state’s AV Grant Contract Manager and State Access Program Coordinator for the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Olson found that in her home Tarrant County alone, state AV grant funds dwarf federal funds with three grantees (New Day Services, Legal Aid Northwest and Tarrant County Domestic Relations Office).  Stuckey has been known to offer contracts exclusively to AFCC members. “I want to ensure wide distribution of this opportunity for Access and Visitation services,” Stuckey wrote to an internal AFCC email list in 2006.

Olson said her research has been thwarted by the State of Texas, which claims some individual case files and numbers are private while saying it doesn’t collect data on individual providers and their case load. For instance, anecdotally Olson found that AFCC Texas member James Jensen received a lot of cases involved in AV Grants, but neither he nor Tarrant County could provide an exact number. Jenson didn’t respond to my email for comment.

More recently, Olson popped up again, as a defendant, when a couple influential lawyers from Tarrant County sued her and another activist over Facebook posts and things she and another activist put on PPC's website in 2016.  Here's from the Star Telegram.

Two attorneys are suing a watchdog group dedicated to reforming the Tarrant County family court system and alleging libel and slander, saying it used social media posts to falsely accuse them of unethical and illegal activities.

Attorneys Lori DeAngelis and Laurie Robinson accuse the Southlake-based Protective Parents Coalition, its co-founder Jennifer Olson, and Donna Tribunella, one of the group’s followers, of defaming them by publishing malicious comments without any evidence, court records state.

Among the allegations is that DeAngelis and Robinson unethically colluded with Tarrant County judges to receive higher attorneys fees and more business while also conspiring with caseworkers to destroy critical social study reports that are part of the court’s records, the lawsuit states.

Olson and PPC filed to dismiss under SLAPP, the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, arguing that the initial lawsuit was filed solely to try and silence her speech. That lawsuit was dismissed later on those grounds.

Judge Judith Wells

More recently, several high-profile cases have involved one Tarrant County Judge, Judith Wells. Judge Wells is a Republican, who last won an election in 2018, according to the website Ballotpedia.

Judge Wells has a 2.6 rating out of 10 at The Robing Room, in five ratings; all the ratings were bad. 

"(s)he ruined my daughters life by placing her with an abusive father. probably because his lawyer contributed mega cash to her election campaign. Karma will come around," one rating stated

Brad Lamb

Most recently, Judge Wells has gotten mixed up in Brad Lamb's custody and CPS/police case. 

Lamb has been featured in numerous places, but in particular, he did a detailed first person narrative and timeline on the website Fighter Cries which you can find hereHe appeared on Dad Talk Today. 

  

 He also appeared on CPS the Reality Series.       

 
Both his children have made several- what he refers to as "outcries"- or disclosures to Child Protective Services (CPS), police, courts, parents, teachers, and others of abuse. Here is part of Lamb's narrative and timeline from Fighter Cries. 

Friday, June 28, 2019 – Pick up the kids from their mother’s after one week. My wife, accompanies me on all exchanges.

* Upon arrival at home, Son unleashes an earful of being hit, being sucked, being sodomized, & his sister being raped in graphic detail to me & my wife.

But as Lamb described, Judge Wells, teaming up with court professionals and others, has engaged in a long term cover-up.


(Photo provided by Lamb of bruises on his son)

Not only does his children's abusers- a step-sibling- continue to live with Lamb's children, but Lamb has been slowly but systematically removed from his children's lives by Judge Wells.

He even described going to jail in 2019.

Son made a horrific outcry against his mother in July. The court forced me to allow the children to go back to their mother’s. Upon return from their mother’s my son makes his second outcry. This time I would not allow the children to go back and be subjected to that again.

I got thrown in jail for doing this. I was told that I was the first person in 22 years to be put in jail for interference with child custody. I was picked up by the Fugitive Task Force, dressed in full riot gear and parked in my entire neighborhood like I was El Chapo. I was met with an officer in full riot gear with a riot shield and his gun drawn, standing beside him was an officer in riot gear with the battering ram for our front door, Police and task force cars were parked in our grass, driveway, and all over our street. Standing behind the first 2 officers were another 5 to 7 law enforcement that were in green army gear. The officer with the riot shield even threatened to shoot our family pet, a chiweenie. The officers dressed in the army gear however took over and defused the situation with the arrest and treated me very civil. I then had a 48 hour hold placed on me where no one on the outside could get any info on me or find out what was going on.

In my holding cell, which is a 10X10 concrete room with a toilet, I watched the group in my cell get escorted out every 4 hours to see the judge…. Except for me. The officers would tell me nothing, and most seemed even more confused than I was as to why I was there and why I’m not moving in the system like everyone else. This continued to go on every 4 hours until around 5 am, where I did not see a judge, but they moved me instead to security level 3 general population jail.

Charity Long 

Lamb said he was the first person in twenty-two years to be arrested for custodial interference in Tarrant County, but recently, Judge Wells had another person arrested for custodial interference, Charity Long. 

I recently spoke with an activist who described her case. That conversation is below. 

 
 As the activist explained, Charity is not even the biological mother in this case, but a forced foster mother. Both the birth parents have had their parental rights terminated, something which is very unusual. 

The biological father went to jail while the biological mother was struggling with a drug addiction.

Charity, a distant relative to the child, was asked to be a foster parent so the child did not go into the system. 

Charity agreed but the problems began when the paternal grandparents began demanding visitation time. 

"They've had concerns about the grandparents...because they had a CPS history. That's why the child wasn't placed with them in the first place," The activist told me. "The grandparents are neglectful and also the grandmother has drug issues."

But Judge Wells issued orders granting the grandparents unsupervised, overnight visits. 

When Charity refused to turn the child over, she was arrested and given ten days in jail by Judge Wells.

That happened in the last two weeks of September 2020. Find an appeal in the case here. I reached out to Judge Wells but received no response. 

Judge Patricia Baca Bennett

Judge Patricia Baca Bennett has also been implicated by several people in shenanigans. Judge Bennett is the judge of the 360th Family District Court in Tarrant County. She was first elected in 2016 and is up for reelection in November 2020.

Her opponent in November is Michael Munoz. Bennett is a Republican while Munoz is a Democrat. 

In 2018, she got in some hot water when a fellow judge accused her in a lawsuit of intimidation. Here is part of a story from The Texas Monitor.

Diane Scott Haddock, associate judge for the 233rd State District Court, is also suing the county, saying it failed to control the defendant, 360th State District Judge Patricia Baca-Bennett.

The suit alleges that Baca-Bennett objected to social media commentary by Scott Haddock’s husband, Gerald Haddock, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Baca-Bennett also allegedly told Scott Haddock to stop her husband from posting social media comments in support of an opponent of James Munford, whom Baca-Bennett was backing in a judicial election.

Judge Bennett currently has no ratings on The Robing Room. 

Sarah Leyva

Leyva has done several videos on her You Tube channel about this case. Find one below. 


 

She has also been interviewed on CPS the Reality Series


 
 As Sarah describes, she is not even a resident of Tarrant. She has lived largely in Virginia. Judge Wells used dubious logic to establish jurisdiction and then switched custody based on false allegations she was keeping her children away from their father. 

She has gone from being the primary parent to barely seeing her children in a matter of months under the rulings of Judge Bennett. 

She further told me she has recently discovered a second case which has been opened on her while recently receiving an order to appear for a deposition. Judge Bennett recently recused herself however Sarah's case is now being presided over by Judge Wells. 

Judge Bennett's Tactics

I also spoke with two activists familiar with Tarrant County courts. That conversation is below. 

"She'll take children away from parents just because she doesn't like them," the activist told me, 

They said she does a habeas corpus scheme. 

"The habeas corpus is basically just to say, who is supposed to have the kid right now and give the kid back. That's all the law is allowed to do...but what they'll do is they won't notify the other party the hearing." The activist stated. "Whoever is not employing one of Baca's friends, they won't notify them of the hearing. They'll have the process server falsify the citation, saying that they did serve these people with the documents, and there's no court reporter on a very serious issue such as taking somebody's child away, and the judge will modify the custody order, when that's not what the custody order is supposed to do."

The activist continued, "They're using temporary orders to essentially switch custody from one parent to the other, and they're using these temporary orders exactly the same way a lawyer would use a summary judgment. A summary judgment is basically like, 'judge we have all the pictures and evidence and there's not gonna be a hearing, but we just want you to make a decision."

The activist explained that temporary orders are a way to switch custody, or make other life altering decisions, without holding a hearing, but they have the further potency of not being something which can be appealed. 

Lyndsay Newell

Lyndsay Newell is a powerful lawyer in Tarrant County, and she is a court appointed professional on both Lamb and Leyva's case. 

Here is more from Lamb from Fighter Cries, "Wells appointed Lyndsay Newell (again) as amicus attorney, although the appointment of an amicus was not an issue in the days earlier court proceedings.  My legal team explicitly requested that Newell NOT be appointed in this case as substantial evidence questioning the impartiality of Newell was available.  Note: Newell was awarded a judgement on me in excess of $11,000 with payments being set up as child support payments at $350 per month when my child support is only $280."

Newell did not respond to a voicemail at her office for comment. 

A Father Tells HIs Tale

A father also told me of how his ex-wife was the subject of sixty CPS reports but that he now only sees his children about thirty-two hours per month, not even a day and a half per month. How? He told me that his lawyer quit, a judge refused to give him time to get another lawyer, and he did not know how to properly submit evidence so a trial happened without all the evidence he wanted. 


 

Tarrant County CPS

Finally, I spoke to Paul Propst. Propst works for a charity providing parenting classes, and he said based on the stories he has heard from parents some patterns in Tarrant County CPS emerge, along with the judges. More is below. 


 
 
"They are automatically a non-violent issue, CPS going in and taking the child from the home," he said. 

"You have a custodial parent and a non-custodial parent, and  the custodial parent in the State of Texas has the majority of the time.  So, the custodial parent will have CPS called on them. They will have CPS involved in their lives. Automatic by default, CPS automatically pulls the child and does not consider the non-custodial parent."

He continued, "These parents: they are providing adequate evidence that they are fit parents, that they are not causing the sexual abuse, physical abuse, but CPS is overlooking it and the family court is overlooking."

On the other hand, he also said, "CPS workers are not doing their job investigating some cases like they should, especially regarding sexual {abuse}."

As I pointed out, this means in some cases CPS refused to look at evidence to clear parents falsely accused of abuse, while in other cases, CPS refuses to look at evidence where there is a legitimate allegation. 

One CPS Case

Finally, I spoke with another activist who told me about Breanna. In her case, a neighbor made several false allegations which were reported to police and CPS; even though they were determined false by CPS, CPS then later picked them up again relitigating those while creating new issues. Breanna was being gagged, or threatened with silence through court order, as well, I was told. Full conversation is below.


Post Script

This is the fifth and final article in a five part project. Please find article one herearticle two here, article three here, and article four here. The link to the crowdfunding explaining the project is here 

Find the crowdfunding campaign here, and hopefully, a new campaign will start soon. 

10 comments:

Jamie Starr Johnson said...

I would like to speak to you in regards to similar things going on in Indiana. I am a activist/advocate that was speaking publicly after investigating Indiana DCS And they have taken my children ... so much corruption and similar things have been done to me ... I’ve been quiet but about to get very loud and it scares me what they are Going to do when I do.

Jamie Starr Johnson said...

I would like to speak to you in regards to similar things going on in Indiana. I am a activist/advocate that was speaking publicly after investigating Indiana DCS And they have taken my children ... so much corruption and similar things have been done to me ... I’ve been quiet but about to get very loud and it scares me what they are Going to do when I do.

Jamie Starr Johnson said...

I would like to speak to you in regards to similar things going on in Indiana. I am a activist/advocate that was speaking publicly after investigating Indiana DCS And they have taken my children ... so much corruption and similar things have been done to me ... I’ve been quiet but about to get very loud and it scares me what they are Going to do when I do.

Jamie Starr Johnson said...

I would like to speak to you in regards to similar things going on in Indiana. I am a activist/advocate that was speaking publicly after investigating Indiana DCS And they have taken my children ... so much corruption and similar things have been done to me ... I’ve been quiet but about to get very loud and it scares me what they are Going to do when I do.

Fosholyfe said...

Someone help my sister, doing 25 years in prison due to cps cover ups ��

Destin said...

Cos is a dirty game. They do NOT care about these children. They care about numbers, which produces money for their counties and cps system. From a grandmother, who has first-hand knowledge of the cps system.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, DFCS and CPS across the nation are being incentivized by monetary gains through keeping childrens' abuse cases open and strung out as long as possible. It's the only thing that makes sense, in thousands of cases across the nation. Laws must change. Fighting this system from local levels is futile. State and federal representatives must get involved and overhaul the entire system.

Anonymous said...

This live stream from Judge Stone Tarrant County is left up for some reason... INCREDIBLE. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTk9DtIvhaQ
233-590315-16 The court asked for woman's address. She just moved and said she didn't know, but also didn't feel comfortable giving her address for public viewers to hear, and could provide afterwards. Judge Stone demanded she go to her door or look at mail. Having been in this court myself, I can testify Kate Stone is not currently fit to be Judge.

Anonymous said...

This live stream from Judge Stone Tarrant County is left up for some reason... INCREDIBLE. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTk9DtIvhaQ
233-590315-16 The court asked for woman's address. She just moved and said she didn't know, but also didn't feel comfortable giving her address for public viewers to hear, and could provide afterwards. Judge Stone demanded she go to her door or look at mail. Having been in this court myself, I can testify Kate Stone is not currently fit to be Judge.

**This Mom clearly has dealt with domestic violence and undergoing trauma. How is it possible Judges can not see or understand this? How do they not know they are a big part of the problem?!

Anonymous said...

Just watched this case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McgbN0rrBws

Wow.

No Judge is capable of handling these cases properly the way the law is set up.
Hearts & process have got to change.