Accepted filing not shown on Judge Tami Craft’s Harris County District Court docket a day later. Obtaining a submission date from the missing Clerk on Thursday should not prevent the motion from being filed if the notice date provided is somehow not available contrary to the law. pic.twitter.com/fGZhlLCc7y
— lawsinusa (@lawsinusa) August 22, 2023
DEMMING, JHALEN vs. ROAD MONSTER EXPRESS LLC (D/B/A HUSAM HUSANI)
(Court 127, JUDGE RAVI SANDILL)
KRUCKEMEYER, ROBERT J vs. BLOGGER INC D/B/A LAWIN TEXAS.COM
(Court 189, JUDGE TAMI CRAFT)
Defendants Mark Burke, individually, and on behalf of Blogger Inc. (“Defendants” or “media defendants”), file this Motion to Disqualify opposing counsel Randall O. Sorrels and his law firm Randall O. Sorrels, PC, DBA “Sorrels Law” (“Randy”), registered in Harris County as lead counsel for Plaintiff.
RANDALL O. SORRELS RELATIONSHIP WITH PARTIES
Randy’s familiarity extends across both sides of the negotiating table, a fact acknowledged by all parties involved. His close friendship with Robert J. Kruckemeyer (“Bob”), as referenced in previous legal documents, attests to his well-established connections. Additionally, his former law firm had previously and successfully represented the business interests of the Burke family. Notably, this connection enabled media defendants to observe the seamless transfer of the prior firm’s client list when he transitioned from Abraham Watkins to his current firm, Sorrels Law.
It remains undisclosed whether this contact list migration occurred with proper authorization. However, what is undisputedly relevant is that a novel email list linked to a new entity mandates the procurement of individual consent from the list’s members, including their corresponding email addresses.
Regrettably, the imperative process of notification, as precisely outlined on LawsInTexas.com (“LIT”), was never executed. Consequently, this omission stands in violation of established legal norms. Reference is made to the article titled “Sorrels Law Violates Email CAN-SPAM Act,” which outlines the infraction in detail.
Relatedly, Abraham Watkins is named as the first and highest donor to Judge Craft in 2023, with a $5,000 contribution. However, this was not a donation prior to the election, but received on June 20, 2023 and while Judge Craft is a sitting judge of this Court.
RANDY SORRELS PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JUDGE TAMIKA ‘TAMI’ CRAFT OR TAMIKA ‘TAMI’ CRAFT-DEMMING
Following her recent appointment to Court 189 in January 2023, Judge Tami Craft – as she prefers to be addressed – was assigned at random to preside over the present civil action initiated by the pro se litigant and Texas lawyer, Bob. Subsequently, Bob independently amended his initial petition on a Sunday afternoon, as evidenced in “Plaintiff’s First Amended Original and Application for Permanent Injunction,” Image No. 108501215, dated June 5, 2023.
Within this amended petition, he stipulated that Randy would join as legal counsel for the duration of the ongoing proceedings. It is noteworthy that the media defendants has already raised concerns about the legitimacy of this appointment in prior submissions, a fact which this court is invited to acknowledge as a matter of judicial notice. Reference can be made to Ex parte Daniels, No. 05-21-01075-CR, at *4 (Tex. App. May 26, 2022), wherein the principle is established that “A court may take judicial notice of its own records.”
Subsequent to recent investigations by the Defendants and Counter-Plaintiffs, it has come to light that a personal relationship exists between Judge Craft and Randy. This relationship extends to a family member whom Randy is presently representing—specifically, Jhalen Demming—in an active civil proceeding under the docket number 202266491, titled “DEMMING, JHALEN vs. ROAD MONSTER EXPRESS LLC (D/B/A HUSAM HUSANI)” and assigned to Court 127. It has been alleged that Jhalen Demming is the offspring of Judge Tami Craft-Demming and her spouse, Marcus Demming, as referenced in case 202280126, “CRAFT-DEMMING, TAMIKA vs. DEMMING, MARCUS,” which pertains to divorce proceedings and was officially dismissed on March 13, 2023, due to want of prosecution.
Evident from the submissions in the present case, which revolves around an automobile accident, a dispute emerges regarding the authenticity of the injuries sustained by Jhalen Demming, the medical treatment undergone, and the related medical expenses. Given Sorrels’ reputation as a renowned personal injury law firm, it is reasonable to surmise that Jhalen may have entered into an engagement agreement with Sorrels on a contingency fee basis.
Relatedly, Randy was notably not named as counsel for defendants in a civil proceeding where Judge Craft was a Plaintiff, 201972692 – CRAFT, PAMELA vs. AUTO CLUB MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY (Court 164) (Dismissed for want of prosecution on May 25, 2023).
However, Randy injected himself without notice or authority as counsel to aid the Judge in dismissal (with her approval) of certain claims, as detailed in LIT’s article “As Judge Tami Craft and Pamela Craft’s Auto Accident Case Collapsed, In Stepped Randy Sorrels With an Offer”.
Also relevant to this motion is Randy donated $1,000 to Judge Craft. However, this was not a donation prior to the election, but received on January 25, 2023 and while Judge Craft is a sitting judge of this Court.
That stated, there was a donation during the 2022 judicial campaign itself. On Aug. 20, 2022 “Sorrels Law Firm” donated $789.18. However, questionably this has been removed from the Transparency.Org website, despite LIT’s screenshot taken on July 16, 2023 confirming the donation.
APPLICABLE PROFESSIONAL RULES AND LAWS
Under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 18b(a), “a judge is disqualified in any proceeding in which either of the parties may be related to the judge by affinity or consanguinity within the third degree”.
Let’s break down these terms;
Parties: In a legal context, “parties” refer to the individuals or groups who are involved in a legal dispute or case. They could be plaintiffs (those bringing the case to court) or defendants (those being sued or accused).
Judge: The judge is the legal authority presiding over the case. They are responsible for making impartial decisions and ensuring that the legal process is fair and just.
Affinity: Affinity refers to relationships formed through marriage. For example, a person’s spouse’s relatives are considered their affines. Affinity is distinct from consanguinity, which refers to blood relationships.
Consanguinity: Consanguinity refers to blood relationships – being related by birth, typically through shared parentage.
Third Degree: In genealogy and legal terminology, degrees of relationship indicate how closely two individuals are related. The “third degree” refers to a level of relationship that is relatively distant. For example, a parent-child relationship is considered first degree, siblings are second-degree relatives, and third-degree relatives might include cousins or great-grandparents.
In this context, the focus here is on the judge’s association with counsel and her family. See; TEXAS CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT (As amended by the Supreme Court of Texas through January 21, 2022).
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
Randy is currently representing the judge’s son in ongoing civil proceedings as previously mentioned. She has also had communications with Randy in her own case to allow him to dismiss claims on her behalf.
Consequently, this request to remove the legal representative aims to provide the media defendants with the essential recourse.
In light of the situation and the applicable code and canons such as 1, 2, 3(B)(5),(8) (discussing ex parte communications) and related responsibilities such as those covered in (D) (financial activities) as an active Judge, it’s apparent that this association significantly impacts the advancement of these proceedings due to concerns about partiality and bias.
This motion to disqualify counsel is therefore imperative to afford the media defendants the necessary relief, bolstered by adherence to professional regulations and Texas laws.
JUDGE MARC W BROWN SELF-RECUSES FROM IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS OF TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL KEN PAXTON
Another pivotal aspect underscoring the significance of this motion pertains to the ongoing impeachment of the suspended Attorney General, Ken Paxton (“Paxton”). Notably, Senior Appellate Judge Marc W. Brown was originally slated to act as counsel for the President of the Senate in these proceedings. However, after an epiphany, Judge Brown suddenly remembered he donated $250 towards former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman’s campaign to unseat Paxton, and has submitted a letter dated Saturday, August 19, 2023, withdrawing from the assignment to ensure there were “no distractions or allegations of favoritism or personal bias”.
Considering Randy Sorrels’ position as the former President of the State Bar of Texas (2019-2020), along with Judge Craft’s status as a prominent public figure, it is imperative to ensure that there are no distractions or indications of preferential treatment and personal bias. This holds true when evaluating the media defendants’ blog at LawsInTexas.com and considering the mission statement of Blogger Inc., which articulates their purpose as follows;
“LawsInTexas dot com is a trading identity that falls under the complete ownership of Blogger Inc., a registered nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Delaware. Blogger Inc. is dedicated to enhancing civil rights, promoting access to justice, upholding ethical standards, fostering accountability, and driving social change by engaging stakeholders and the public through online media marketing and blogs. Operating independently as a non-profit blog and newsroom, Blogger Inc. produces investigative journalism in the public interest and offers educational resources to individuals, contributing to the betterment of the community.”
Correspondingly to the impeachment trial, these ongoing proceedings hold significant public interest. It is vital that justice is served without compromise.
In light of the above facts, Randall O. Sorrels of Sorrels Law should be disqualified, and no lawyer from Randall O. Sorrels PC, DBA Sorrels Law may participate in these proceedings. As such, this motion should be timely GRANTED along with any and all relief this court may prescribe.
RESPECTFULLY submitted this 21st day of August, 2023.
Former judge declines to serve as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s adviser for Ken Paxton impeachment trial
A day after Patrick announced the appointment, Marc Brown declined it, citing a campaign contribution he made to Paxton’s GOP primary opponent in 2021.
AUG. 19, 2023 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: AUG. 21, 2023
A former state appeals court judge on Saturday turned down an appointment to serve as an adviser to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick during the upcoming impeachment trial of indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Just a day earlier, Patrick had named Marc Brown, a former Republican justice on the 14th Court of Appeals from Harris County, to be his counsel during the trial scheduled to begin Sept. 5.
Brown’s announcement that he would not participate came suddenly after The Texas Tribune reached out about a campaign donation he made in 2021 to a Paxton political opponent.
In a letter Saturday to Patrick declining the appointment, Brown cited the $250 contribution that he and his wife made in 2021 to the campaign of Eva Guzman, a former state Supreme Court justice who tried to unseat Paxton in the Republican primary.
Brown said he had not actively campaigned for any candidate since becoming a district judge in 2010.
“I did not recall that during our meetings with your staff,”
Brown wrote about the contribution.
“I have full confidence in my ability to fairly offer legal advice in this matter. However, the proceedings commencing on Sept. 5, 2023 are far too important to the State of Texas for there to be any distractions involving allegations of favoritism or personal bias on my part.”
Patrick said Friday he had picked Brown “after several months of searching.”
Trial rules grant Patrick — who as the leader of the Senate serves as the impeachment trial’s presiding officer — the option of selecting his own legal counsel.
“I was looking for a candidate with real-life courtroom experience as a lawyer and a judge who would serve as counsel and work side-by-side with me through this process,”
Patrick said in a statement.
“Justice Brown meets these criteria with his years of front-line experience as a courtroom lawyer and trial court judge and also brings a well-rounded perspective from his experience as a former appellate justice.”
The House impeached Paxton in May, alleging a yearslong pattern of misconduct and lawbreaking. He was immediately suspended from office on a temporary basis, and the trial will determine whether he will be permanently removed.
Paxton faces 20 articles of impeachment that accuse him of bribery and abusing his office.
The trial rules, which the Senate approved in June, say that the presiding officer “may select legal counsel licensed in the State of Texas who is not a registered lobbyist in this State.”
Brown served as a district court judge in Harris County, then won a seat on the 14th Court of Appeals, where he served from 2013 to 2019.
He lost reelection in 2018, one of many GOP judges in the Houston area unseated as Democrat Beto O’Rourke came close to unseating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.