Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Denise Pratt is running for re-election to the 311th Family District Court bench. Her tenure thus far has been, shall we say, interesting.

The latest incident involved the dismissal of some 260 cases (if not more) on December 30, 2013 for "want of prosecution." That's a term of art meaning that the petitioner in those cases failed to appear in court or get their spouse served with divorce papers.

The only problem is that, according to local attorney Greg Enos, Judge Pratt forgot to send notice to the parties that their cases were dismissed. Oops. It would also appear that no record of orders themselves could be found on the District Clerk's website. Double oops.

Judge Pratt and her people claim that the problems, if any, were the result of glitches in the District Clerk's e-filing software and that none of it was her fault.

Last year Judge Pratt faced allegations that she falsified court documents. She was accused of backdating orders. The backdated orders could have caused nightmares for the litigants involved. The judge was no-billed by a Harris County grand jury last December. She claimed vindication.

One thing that can't be denied is the overwhelming opinion of participants in the 2013 Houston Bar Association judicial evaluation that Judge Pratt is not qualified to sit on the bench.

When asked if Judge Pratt followed the law, 76% of attorneys said she didn't. Over 80% said she did not make her rulings in a timely manner. Almost 72% of respondents said she did not exhibit impartiality. Almost 83% said she wasted attorney's time. Over 78% said she neither worked hard nor was prepared. When asked to rate her performance on the bench, 22% said below average and almost 57% said she needed improvement.

But it wasn't all bad news, only 59% of respondents thought she wasn't courteous to those in her court.

And, as if there wasn't enough humor in the family courts, Judge Pratt sent out an e-mail to all attorneys in Harris County asking them to rate her well-qualified (and to contribute to her re-election campaign).

Dear Paul,
The 2014 Houston Bar Association’s Judicial Qualifications Poll has just been released. If you have been in the 311th Court since 2011, please take a moment to rate me WELL-QUALIFIED.
As Judge of the 311th Family District Court of Harris County, I have worked hard to deliver rulings that protect children and families.  With over 18 years of private practice in family law, as well as training in Drug/Alcohol Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Teen Suicide, I understand the issues that arise in the family Courts.  I also sit on the Texas Board of Social Workers Examiners, which provides me with background concerning mental and emotional health issues.  The Court of Appeals has affirmed ALL my efforts to protect the children of the 311th Court.  If you agree with the values that should be in the family law courts, I would be honored to receive your WELL-QUALIFIED ranking.

Additionally, please tell a friend about the great work the 311th Court has done to protect children; ask them to review my background and participate on my website:
Thank you for your support.
Denise Pratt
Judge, 311th Family District Court
Harris County

pd pol ad • Denise Pratt Campaign

There are things in life that take nerve - getting up to speak in front of strangers or climbing up on the back of a bull - but sending out an e-mail like this takes the cake for judicial chutzpah.

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