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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


 

Judicial Watch.....At the Star’s press time (Tuesday afternoon), elections results were not in so I have the room to rant about the project I’ve been on for the past six months....the Fort Bend courts system.

First..... Sister, if you think the divorce laws have reached the 21st century in Fort Bend County, then I would suggest you stay married, especially if you happen to draw a certain judge who can’t make a judgement/decision.

I have been monitoring a divorce in Judge Jim Shoemake’s court that has gone on for neigh on two years.

In this particular case we have a couple with four children who were living in a upscale gated neighborhood (one acre plus 4400 sq. ft. house). The father made $30,000 per month and had made close to that since 1998.

Suddenly, he fell in love with another women and filed for divorce in mid-2006. He kept up with agreed separate maintenance and children support until such time as a reconciliation didn’t work out in about February, 2007. According to court testimony, he continued the child support but quit the separate maintenance and left the mother to pay for all other expenses, including a huge house payment, car payments, utilities, etc.

He and his wife have been in and out of Judge Shoemake’s court since the divorce inception. I started following the case when the mother was in serious default with the house, car payments and utilities. When I last wrote about this, she had various utilities cut off more than once, and she and the children had bathed at a local health club and did homework by lantern light.

For the past six months, even the child support has not been paid as the husband hasn’t worked at his commission job. The judge had earlier told her to get a job, even if it meant flipping burgers. But after several long court hearings, the judge finally allowed her to move to the Dallas area to be near her parents and get employment training. Did I forget to mention she is a cancer survivor?

After one of the newly transplanted teens threw a fit and demanded to live with her father, the mother put her on a bus to Houston. Two days later the father filed for permanent custody, although he often works out of town, leaving the teen alone at night.

This is just the sort of “gotcha” being played in the court, and this is just the sort of legal maneuvers that a judge can stop. Judge Shoemake insisted in talking to the girl himself (commendable), but has yet to issue a ruling (not commendable).

This is typical of most of the issues before this court. If the father’s attorney, Logene Foster, files a motion, it is heard immediately. If the mother’s attorney files a motion, it MAY be heard in several months, or not at all.

The father has ignored many of the judge’s orders; he’s suffered no consequences. As of this writing, he is six months behind on his child support.

The judge in this case is sending a message. If you get the right attorney, you can trample on the judge’s orders (if you can get him to hear them) and nothing will happen to you.

Judges are supposed to make a decision. It is understandable that they would rather the divorcing couple come to some settlement, but after three mediations (with the judge’s favorite mediator) at $300-500 a pop, the couple are no closer to settling. It’s time for the judge to do what we are paying him to do--judge. And take care of the deadbeat dad.

According to another interested party in this case, “If the Judge will not enforce his own orders and will not even enforce the laws of the state, any future rulings he may make do not make any difference-folks will just do what they want to do without any penalty or sanction.”

A little history here: Judge Jim Shoemake ran for a judgeship several years ago. Judge Ron Pope beat him. Then when all the judges decided they needed “assistant judges,” Pope had Shoemake appointed as his assistant judge. I surmise that was to keep him for running against him later.

Then when a new judgeship was created, Shoemake, who had been an “assistant judge” for about a year, was appointed by Governor “Good Hair.” Except for that experience, I’m not sure what kind of legal background Shoemake has.

This should be a slam-dunk case, but the judge has lost complete control of his courtroom. From a conservation with me, it became obvious that he doesn’t even know which side he is currently hearing.

There’s hope.....Judge Shoemake has a general election opponent, Democrat Albert Hollan, a very respected attorney with impeccable credentials who lives in Sugar Land. We’ll be watching closely.

And just when you think it can’t get worst.....An attorney in Cliff Vacek’s court who agreed to probation and a 30 day jail term on a DUI last month, has now come before the judge and asked that his jail term be probated also. It was.

Vacek also has a general election opponent. I don’t know him, but I will by November. I must admit I’ve not heard things about Vacek until now, but I will be keeping my eyes on this until November.

 

Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:  April 02, 2008