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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."


 

Where is Judge Stansbury when we need him?.....I noticed in the Houston daily paper last week that former Fort Bend County District Judge Tom Stansbury, who retired several years ago and is now a visiting judge all over the state, is presiding over the divorce of pop star Hilary Duff’s parents.

The couple were in court arguing over money to have a birthday party for Hilary. Just as the hearing was over, Judge Stansbury had Mr. Duff led from the courtroom in handcuffs because he had violated a court order by selling assets without court approval. Judge Stansbury ordered him to spend 10 days in jail because he violated the injunction.

The reason this caught my attention is because I’ve been following a divorce case in a local court. Judge James Shoemake, appointed by Governor Rick Perry two years ago and up for election this November, has been presiding over a divorce case in Fort Bend County that is a scandal of the first degree.

In this case, Judge Shoemake has ordered the husband to pay certain expenses from September 2006 to the present. The husband has not and the judge has not enforced it.

Judge Shoemake has ordered child support for the four minor children. The father in this case owes the mother over $20,000, and she has received hardly anything for the past six months. Judge Shoemake ordered the husband to make house payments, car payments, etc. and the husband has ignored it to the point that the car and house were foreclosed on. When the husband sold another vehicle, he was ordered to pay the wife half. He has completely ignored that court order and many, many more, including medical expenses and insurance payments. Judge Shoemake has refused to do anything,

This man, who is represented by well-known Fort Bend County attorney Logene Foster, has disobeyed almost every court order Judge Shoemake has issued. Judge Shoemake has refused to do anything.

The wife, represented by Houston attorney Rick Ramos, has asked for several emergency hearings and temporary orders. The judge has acted on one only. Yet when the husband asks for any court hearings, they is granted immediately. I can’t help but wonder about the relationship.

The most egregious failure of the judge has been on the part of the children, who have been dragged from pillar or post, subject to the whims of the father’s actions. In one incident, the father refused to leave the children at the designated place in Dallas and drove them back to Houston. He left them in the car in the afternoon during a court hearing then was ordered to drive them back to Dallas at the end of the day. Actually they were all leaving the courthouse--the judge, the lawyers, etc. when someone reminded them of the children still in the car with no decision. I think I threw my arms across the hall as they were leaving.

The mother’s attorney fees are $43,000. I don’t know how much she has paid, but he has refused to return her telephone calls.

I accompanied her to the Office of the Attorney General, child support division, and they refuse to speak to her because she is represented by an attorney. Do you see the same Catch-22 that I do? They will only speak to her attorney, who won’t return her calls.

Meanwhile, she gets no child support for her four children and tries to support them on a substitute teacher’s salary.

Would that Judge Shoemake had the courage that Judge Stansbury obviously has. I can’t help but think that a few days in jail might shake some child support from the father who seems to have money to stay in hotels and attend professional football games when he visits the son in Dallas.

This is a women with five children (one is over 18) who lived in a lovely home with acreage, pool, in a gated community when her husband decided he wanted a divorce. In one year, he caused them to be homeless, hungry, and living on the charity of family and friends. More than once, they had their utilities shut off and the family had to do homework by lantern and bathe at friends’ homes.

But Judge Shoemake seems to lack the will to force the attorneys to get on with their arguments or the judgement to make any decisions.

Judge Shoemake ran for the a judgeship in the Republican primary against Ron Pope. Pope eventually won and appointed Shoemake to be his “assistant” judge, a move many thought was to mitigate any future run against him.

Then Shoemake was appointed to the newly created judgeship by the governor, and Shoemake’s wife went to work as the first executive assistant to the District Clerk, who is married to Assistant District Attorney Mike Elliott, who has had several controversial cases himself.

So this whole incestuous situation at the courthouse is a situation ripe for abuse. On more than one occasion, Judge Shoemake has been forced to recuse himself.

I’ve heard that everyone at the courthouse likes Judge Shoemake as he is genial and friendly. But being a “nice guy” doesn’t mean you can be a good judge.

Judge Shoemake has a Democratic opponent in the November election. His opponent is Albert Hollan, a highly qualified attorney who is Board Certified in two trial law specialities, has 20 years of experience trying cases in area courtrooms, has finance and law degrees, and has the highest peer-review rating.

He lives in Sugar Land, has two children and goes to the Methodist Church.

He is not related to anyone who works in the courthouse.

 

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:  September 03, 2008