Under investigation by Harris County prosecutors for dismissing hundreds of cases without notice, embattled family court judge Denise Pratt resigned Friday, abruptly ending her re-election bid.
The freshman Republican jurist campaigned as a conservative advocate for children and families, touting her unique policy of keeping boyfriends, girlfriends and lovers of recently divorced litigants away from children. While a bevy of Houston-area lawyers and families who have rallied against Pratt challenged that claim, the Baytown native defended her record Friday in a statement that said her departure from the 311th state District Court was due to the damage that “relentless attacks by my political opponents” were having on the court, the local Republican Party and her family.
“I cannot, in good conscience, allow it to continue,” she wrote on her campaign website. “My goal has always been to serve the children and families of Harris County, but I won’t sacrifice my family’s well-being any longer to continue to serve as judge. … I don’t want to see my party, which I have worked to build, dragged down by the media circus.”
On Friday, Pratt critics said they were elated by the resignation, but also frustrated that she continues to deny wrongdoing.
“Instead of taking responsibility for her actions, she’s blaming people like me, when all the lawyers want are judges who show up to work and follow the law and treat people fairly,” Enos said. “Had she done that, she wouldn’t be in this position.”
See here for all the previous entries. I received a copy of Pratt’s statement on Friday, and it’s an epic miasma of whiny self-pity; I’ve pasted it beneath the fold so you can experience it for yourselves. Putting all partisan considerations aside, this is good news. Her incompetence and petulance were causing real problems for a lot of people, and her departure makes the judiciary better overall. I’m glad to see her service come to an end.
That said, as the story notes the deadline to withdraw from the ballot for the runoff was two weeks ago, so despite her resignation she could still be the nominee in the 311th District Family Court. If she manages to win the runoff against Alicia Franklin and then withdraws from the race, Democrat Sherri Cothrun will be unopposed in November. I’m thinking that might cause a bit of a hubbub in the media – if she really wanted to avoid any circuses, she should have submitted her resignation before the March 12 deadline for the runoff. Given Pratt’s refusal to admit any flaws on her part and her insistence that all the bad things we negative nellies have been saying about her are just dirty politics, one has to wonder what prompted this. One might speculate about the status of the latest complaint against her and the ensuing investigation. If we hear any news on that front, we’ll know. Beyond that, as I said I don’t really care. A bad judge is stepping down. That’s what matters. See below for her statement, and Texpatriate has more.
Denise Pratt, Judge of the 311th Family District Court, announced her resignation today. She released the following statement:
“The relentless attacks by my political opponents have become a distraction to the work of the Court, and to the Republican Party in Harris County. I cannot, in good conscience, allow it to continue.
“My goal has always been to serve the children and families of Harris County, but I won’t sacrifice my family’s well-being any longer to continue to serve as Judge.
“I am suspending my campaign as well. The harassment by my opponents will continue as long as I remain on the bench.
“I have worked to elect Republican candidates for over two decades. I have served as a Precinct Chairman, Election Judge and President of a local Republican Club. I don’t want to see my Party, which I have worked to build, dragged down by the media circus that has surrounded this whole affair.
“I didn’t run for office for personal aggrandizement; I ran to make a difference. While sitting on the bench I witnessed the family unit being torn apart, with children usually paying the biggest price. I am proud of the work I did while I served. I hope I made a difference in the lives of the families that appeared in the 311th Family District Court.”