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Harris County family court judge accused of falsifying documents

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Harris County judge is now under investigation after several complaints of misdating paperwork. Some attorneys claim the situation has made it difficult on their clients when it comes to custody and child support.

The district attorney's office will not comment on the situation, saying only there has been no indictment. But the complaint filed against the judge puts forth some serious allegations.

A criminal complaint against family court judge Denise Pratt alleges she falsified court documents, backdating them to hide long delays in her rulings on cases.

"She created documents, she signed them, and she dated them for dates that couldn't possibly have been the day that she actually did that work," Webster attorney Greg Enos said.

District Clerk Chris Daniel says his office has launched an investigation into the matter and has identified six cases in which information may have been falsified.

"The clerk in question admitted that there was the possibility of backdating. And we have turned that information over to the proper authorities and are fully cooperating with both the district attorney's office and the county attorney's office," Daniel said.

We spoke over the phone to two attorneys who say their cases had been affected by Pratt's delayed rulings. Marcia Zimmerman said she "didn't get a ruling for months on end." Robert Clark said, "It's a bad situation. It's cost my client thousands of dollars."

Enos says he filed the complaint after hearing about those cases.

"If judges start breaking the law, people are not going to believe in the system, and you're going to have big problems," Enos said.

We asked to speak with Judge Pratt in person, and were told someone would get back to us. We were unable to connect with anyone after exchanging phone calls. However, we received an email that points out an error Enos made in his complaint.

Enos says the error he made involved the clerk, not the judge, in this case. The court clerk in question resigned this week.

Find Simon on Facebook at ABC13SimonGutierrez or on Twitter at @sggutierrez

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