Thursday, April 13, 2017

GARCIA-BENCE: HOW NOT TO MAKE FRIENDS AT COURT

By Juan Montoya
A little over three months into her four-year term as County Court at Law #4 Judge, Sheila Garcia-Bence is already raising eyebrows among the judiciary and legal community at the county courthouse.

Bence won the Democratic Party runoff over former county court-at-law judge Daniel Robles 9,387 to 7,109 in 2016 and assumed the bench in January 2017.
County Court-at-Law #4 serves the residents of Cameron County mainly as a Probate, Mental Health and Guardianship Court. In most cases, an attorney from the Cameron County Bar is assigned co-guardian with a relative to oversee the estate of incapacitated persons.

As courts go, probate courts are below the pecking order of federal court and district courts and even the other county courts at-law. Only Justice of the Peace courts are below them.

But what has people talking at the courthouse is the way that Garcia-Bence has started out her tenure to get lawyers to take notice of her court. She has had two of them arrested at the courts where they may have been on other cases and brought in by bailiffs who have nee instructed to handcuff them if necessary.

The last time an attorney was arrested and brought to her court was on Wednesday when he was assisting a court-appointed defendant in custody and the bailiff in the district court was told that he was wanted in Garcia-Bence's court pronto.

"The bailiff told them that the attorney would be done with his client and that it would not take less than half an hour before he was free to attend to the probate court's business.

"That happens all the time at the courthouse," said a staffer with the county clerk. "Usually, the lawyers a re paged and told they are wanted in a certain court. "In the 20 years that I've been here, I don;t think that I've ever seen a judge have an attorney arrested in court and hauled off to his for a case. This is a first."

When the bailiffs arrived, they told the lawyer that they had been sent to arrest him and take him to Garcia-Bence's court, and to handcuff him if necessary. The lawyer said his secretary had told the court's secretary which court he was in and that he would be in her court as soon as he was done assisting the defendant in custody.

Garcia-Bence would have none of that and she scolded the attorney for not being present in her court as scheduled. When the attorney tried to respond, she reminded him of a custody case where they had been adversaries about 10 years ago and he had withdrawn when he found out his court-appointed client was uncooperative.

"I was floored," said the lawyer. "The custody case was closed years ago and she still remembered. Here she was bringing up a case from years ago."

To make matters worse, the client for whom he had been appointed co-guardian had died more than two years ago. Garcia-Bence wanted him to produce an inventory for the case for the year 2008, almost 10 years before.

"The guy had been dead for almost three years," he said. "After three years, the case closes automatically. What were six more months going to matter? The guy was dead. On the other hand, the defendant in custody was alive and needed my help. What if the co-guardian – who lives in Houston – was stopped for some traffic infraction and the cops found out that she was wanted for not attending probate court in Brownsville? Would she be arrested, too."

Then, after the attorney was arrested in district court by the bailiffs and hauled off before Garcia-Bence, he returned to district court only to find out that someone – no one knows who – had made off with his laptop. On Thursday, after he had inquired in all the courts on Wednesday, he south the help of Constable Abel Gomez, in charge of courthouse security, to see if the courthouse surveillance tapes could detect the thief.

"As Abel's people were going over the tapes, someone called them and told them that the laptop had reappeared and was found where I had left it," he said. "My computer guy said someone had been trying to open it but didn't have the password. They probably got wind that people were searching for it and panicked and returned it."

Gacia-Bence got widespread support from the legal community when she ran against Robles, rightly or wrongly associated with convicted Harlingen attorney Jim Solis who was caught up in the judicial corruption scandal. If she continues her practice of arresting lawyers for being late to her court, that support might start to wither away in the three and a half years she has left in her term.  

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Waiting for Pat Ahumada's comment!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps more lawyers should be arrested! It is time these attorneys who are being paid by the County....should be held to their contracts. These attorneys are used to multiple delays for probate issues, while the attorneys focus on their higher paying clients. This judge is pissing off attorneys.....a great group to piss off.

Anonymous said...

She's starting in the wrong foot.. Or is she holding a grudge on and old case. It's rumored she's friends with Erin Garcia, could it be she has a vindictive vendetta.. So soon in her position. I hope she doesn't burn her bridges. Sad times for her.

Anonymous said...

I take this moment to clear the minds of my fellow citizens who may have read another bloggers stories about me. I am Robert Sanchez and I would like to defend myself from outrageous allegations from a blogger. I am first cousin of Mike Hernandez who is gratefully helping his and our community. The only pictures I have seen of him is him with me and my brothers and his sisters and mine playing as children. Those are dear memories for me. My brother Jorge is a fantastic older brother of mine I look up to. I have known Mr Gavito for three decades now and even though we have differences with certain issues I respect him and I know nothing about his association or my brothers association with cousin Mike's OP1033. But I am happy they help him. When my divorce situation began in October of 2015, it was a complicated next 16 months of legal manuevering. The blogger of question called me weekly and sometimes daily to help me and to guide me. My phone records reflect his constant involvement. He constantly read pleadings and advised about the state official involved as home wrecker. He advised how to keep him out of courtroom. But what was bizarre was the blogger's constant curiosity of cousin Mike. The blogger was relentless on knowing Mike's SPI address and other personal inquiries into my cousin's life. As far as Sea Ranch, I love all the plates on Captain Bob's menu and eat there twice a day, but I also love the Shrimp Scampi bowl at Sea Ranch and told blogger how my girlfriend and I love splitting it as it is yummy. There was no talk of a $17000.00 drug deal with the blogger and no talk of a $25000.00 payment to me for a picture of my cousin . The blogger is dillusional and desperate. I make my income from harvested seafood from Gulf of Mexico cooked and served by Brownsville employees of mine at Captain Bob'S Seafood Restaurant. I do not make money to set people up or sue them as this blogger likes to do. I respect Cris Valadez who I consider a close friend of mine. I respect Carlos Cascos for his ethics, intelligence, service to our community. I grew up knowing Judge Cascos sister Gloria and brother Hector. For the un ethical spinning blogger to write false stories about me and everyone I mentioned is wrong. The outrageous blogger has a seat in the devil's den when he is done here on Earth as far as I'm concerned for creating peripheral damage and chaos. The blogger must understand that we are cousins friends brothers and members of Brownsville and that,dear is stronger than your bloggin mess here in Brownsville. Thank you Mr Montoya for standing up to the lying coward blogger whose greed is out of control. May the legal community and Judicial branches take awareness of the disbarred attorney who is a blogger. God Bless Brownsville , Texas. Good day folks. Sincerely Robert Sanchez also known as Captain Bob

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Anonymous said...

This Judge has so far been a total bust. She is lazy and hears only six cases a day and worst she has no clue as to what is the practice of probate law. I encourage the arrested attorney to file a grievance against her with the judiciary ethics branch of the State Bar. She is a perfect example as to why the judiciary should be appointed and not elected by the uninformed voters.

Anonymous said...

What an embarrassment as a woman! These kind of women who have their job get to their head are a total and complete disgrace to the entire human race! To think I made the mistake of voting for her! Never again. Never again!!!

Anonymous said...

Good for the judge.

Anonymous said...

Da Blimp is on you again like flies on shit, Juan. What's with that guy? Does he need a life, o que? Vato inutil. INUTIL!!!

Anonymous said...

Is she tied to the Bench family that wants to give Cameron County land for a new warehouse for Gus Ruiz? I'd look a little deeper into that one!

Anonymous said...

they say you have a "bulging neck vein," juan. read it on another blog.

Anonymous said...

Being an elected official sometimes goes to a person's head! This neeeeds to be remembered when she runs for re-election.

Anonymous said...

juan, saw a guy who looked like Blimp at HEB buying some pink shit. Pepto-Bismol? LOL!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It takes a cordial and respectful relationship between the judges and the attorneys for out legal system to work well for our citizens. Petty pride is the enemy of such a positive relationship.

Anonymous said...

DP-M called Nena Barton "sexy." ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

Jim Solis? I thought he jumped off the Isabella Causeway!

Anonymous said...

La Blimp is cooking a turkey on Easter! Vato sonso.

Anonymous said...

Erasmo Castro for board member of planned parenthood just sayin .

rita