By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Never have kids: It should probably be a warning for anyone wanting to enter the field of family and divorce law that the story told to prove King Solomon's wisdom involved a family dispute. You gotta be super-wise to wade into those mares' nests. Solomon had a tricky dispute over maternity to settle, pre-DNA testing, so he suggested cutting the baby in half, assuming that the real parent would rather see someone else raise her whole kid than take home a dead half-baby.
Anyone who's witnessed a family member go through a nasty divorce and custody battle could tell you that Solomon was being too optimistic by half. There are plenty of divorcing parents who would gladly chop their children into cutlets rather than let their lousy ex-spouses win a nickel in child support or a minute's visitation. The legal specialty of refereeing over the dissolution of families is a tough gig, and if you don't believe us, just talk to three lawyers in the Texas Attorney General's Office who have been given lesser jobs after getting crosswise with Dallas family court Judges David Hanschen and Lynn Cherry.
One of them is James Jones, formerly a senior regional attorney supervising the Dallas Child Support Division who is now a staff attorney in Tarrant County. Harry Monck, former senior regional attorney over Fort Worth, is now a staff attorney. And their former boss, Mark Jones, is now something called a "program specialist."
If you read our cover story last week ("Who's Your Daddy?" by Megan Feldman), you might recall that it was James Jones who solicited other lawyers in the local child support office for affidavits alleging Hanschen or Cherry had made derogatory comments about the attorney general's staff. The affidavits presumably would have been used to support complaints about the judges filed with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. For those of you who haven't read Feldman's story, Hanschen and the attorney general's office had a beef over Hanschen's contention that men should not necessarily be required to pay child support if their ex-spouses slipped a cuckoo into the nest. For more on Cherry's dispute, see the story on this page.
Some of the staff lawyers solicited for affidavits feared they were getting roped into supporting unwarranted complaints of misconduct against sitting judges—not a healthy position for any lawyer to be in. Their worries prompted a review by the attorney general's office, which resulted in what a spokesman for the attorney general described as demotions.