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Some's Hot, Some's Not 

by B.K. Carter
This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time and phone number.

Now everybody's mad ..... So Friday, Dec. 19 at 9:40 a.m. the following JPs were doing this: Judge Gary Geick (Pct. 1) was supposedly on another line. He called me back at 10. I was on another line and my caller ID didnít register if he was calling from the courthouse or home.

Judge Ike Fredrickson (Pct. 1), who you may remember had knee surgery a couple of days earlier, drove himself to his office.

Judge Joel Clouser (Pct. 2) was expected at any time because he had a trial docket starting at 10 a.m.

Judge Faye Dettling (Pct. 3) was supposedly in a meeting and not available but if urgent she could be paged. At this point, I had yet to talk to her.

Judge Jim Richards (Pct. 4) was not in. He was supposedly at a meeting.

Final tally for Friday: Two JPs in (supposedly), one JP (not in yet) to be on the bench later.

Then on Monday, Dec. 30 at 11:30 a.m. the following JPs were doing this: Geick was not available. He called me back although I didnít leave a message and said he had the flu. He either had the flu or is a very good actor because he sounded AWFUL. Plus he reported that his court was undergoing renovation and he couldn't do anything anyway.

Fredrickson was "in with someone" and could call later if I needed to talk to him. I just needed to know where he was. Clouser was gone for the day and not expected until Tuesday. Richards was not in and his office staff didnít know when he would be.

Dettling was in and for the first time since my quest began, I got to speak directly to her. She reminded me that even though the JPs now have a "death investigator" they still get calls at all hours of the day and night to do such things as emergency mental commitments, search warrants, arrest warrants and juvenile magistrating. I have to wonder how many people in Fort Bend go crazy in the middle of the night.

Final tally for Monday: None in except Dettling (for the first time) and none on the bench.

Getting testy ..... Finally on Monday, January 7, 10:45 the following JPs were doing this: Geick and Dettlingís offices were answered with recordings. I think when the JPs are holding court, their clerks are tied up and often the phone is answered by a recording. I tried a couple of times and the recording was still on.

Richards was holding court, according to one of his clerks and Clouser was at lunch. By then it was 11 and I noted to myself that it was a little early for lunch. Clouser immediately called me back (although I hadn't left my name and number-caller ID?) and said he was still there and that his clerk just didnít realize that he hadn't left yet. When I told him I was just checking, he asked if I wanted him to call me at home the next time he was called out at night. He informed me that the JPs now had a "death investigator" but only on the weekends and they still had to go out at night and certify deaths during the week.

I thanked him for that information.

Fredrickson was with someone but while I was talking to his clerk, he became free and also asked me if I wanted to go out with him on some of those night calls.

My, they are getting testy.

I still donít have the complete "fee officer's report" for all the JPs for the last year because since Richards went on a particular software system (the much ballyhooed "Banner" system) some of his numbers are missing. However, I do have the total amount of money they collected for the truncated (9 months-Fort Bend County changed its accounting system) last year.

For the year ending in September 2002, the following JPs collected the following amounts of money: Geick - $723,212; Fredrickson - $574,716; Richards - $445,548; Dettling - $400,394; and Clouser - $335,485.

Two things to keep in mind: Geick is at the county courthouse and probably gets a lot of business due to his location; Clouser represents a poorer neighborhood and that probably has an affect on his bottom line.

The only reason I can figure that Fredrickson collects more than the other three JPs is because ---- he works hard ..... and drives himself to the office with a bum knee

B. K. Carter is publisher of the Fort Bend Star. You can e-mail her at

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   Last Update:  January 15, 2003