Judge in ‘Angela’ case witnesses child witness to dangers of direct voting

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Phillips. His name is Phillips.

In recent days, readers have contacted me, some of them apparently on the verge of voting earlier, asking me variations of the same question: “What was the name of that judge who took Angela’s baby away?” ?

By now all of you readers should know his name by heart. But as a frequent victim of name recall syndrome myself, I don’t mind responding.

He is State District Judge John Phillips, a Republican elected to the 314th District Court in 2002. After his main Republican opponent was excluded from the poll, apparently over a technicality, Phillips had to face the Democrat Natalia Oakes, juvenile law lawyer and former prof.

In a recent Houston Bar Association poll, Oakes beat Phillips 400-348 – not a huge lead for Oakes but a significant gap for Phillips, a Republican on the bench for more than a decade who holds an administrative post in the courts for minors.

Recently, I asked a reader who votes a majority Republican and often disagrees with my positions on social issues, which kept her from voting right away.

“Well, because there are always a few,” she laughs. “There are always a few.”

She cited Phillips as one of the few. And of course, there are other reasons not to vote right away this election season. Take Democrat Alison Ruff, who ‘challenges’ Republican State Representative Sarah Davis of West University Place and didn’t bother to create a website or stand for the Houston Editorial Board interview. Chronicle.

Likewise, Democrat Jim Hogan, a Cleburne farmer and part-time insurance agent who appears to be a nice guy in interviews, apparently hasn’t left his porch in his ‘run’ against Stephenville’s Republican Sid Miller. , a former representative of the State.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate for attorney general Ken Paxton has pleaded guilty to breaking state securities laws. And his Republican colleague, State Representative Gary Elkins, has zealously fought modest payday loan regulations in the legislature, despite his conflict as the owner of the payday channel Power Finance. And now, as my colleague Mike Morris recently reported, Elkins’ company is accused of violating local regulations in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.

But I digress.

Phillips has been one of my special projects over the years, not because I follow him with a magnifying glass and tape recorder. Usually the issues I write about in his courtroom are brought to my attention by concerned lawyers or people with matters in his court.

Recently, lawyers sent me images of Phillips’ Facebook page. Nestled among the messages encouraging “friends” to vote Republicans are those who describe undocumented immigrants as fat and lazy, disparaging Islam, linking President Obama to terrorists and calling the president a “national terrorist.” “. An older article says that “people line up early for Obama’s inauguration,” but “people” are portrayed as a mass of black sheep.

Now I realize that not everyone is as offended by these messages as I am. You may have one or two uncles who regularly post such things. But as I wrote to Phillips, asking for his comment, these uncles are not state district judges who have sworn to uphold the law fairly for all. Phillips did not respond.

In 2008, I wrote about how the judge ordered two children, aged 1 and 2, to leave the home of their grandparents LaPorte, who had raised them since childhood, and to place them with strangers in a foster home. In a hearing ending parents’ rights over drug addiction, Phillips refused to let the grandparents intervene, apparently because he considered the couple, both in their fifties, too old.

Phillips said boys would need counseling into their twenties and “the harsh reality is there’s a very good chance” their grandparents “are dead by then.”

More recently, a series of columns on “Angela,” a 12-year-old rape victim, caught the attention of readers. Angela, abandoned by both parents after becoming pregnant, has been placed in the custody of the CPS. The girl, who had every reason to blame her inner life, embraced the pregnancy, decided to breastfeed and even bonded with a parent Rosharon of her adoptive mother who agreed to provide a loving home. and stable for her and her baby.

But when Phillips got wind that the Rosharon family was caring for the newborn, he demanded that child welfare officials transfer the baby to foster care in Montgomery County where Angela would not have been. no access to it.

Phillips said bluntly to Angela in court, “You and your baby are not going to be together.”

His motives had nothing to do with the law. State law allows children to be removed from their parents only if there is evidence of abuse or neglect – none of which has ever been blamed on the young mother.

Phillips was willing to throw Angela away as damaged merchandise, and he could very well have succeeded, had it not been for attorney Thuy Le, who fought to represent the girl and ultimately managed to get a new judge to reunite Angela and her with her. baby.

Earlier this month, I wrote that Angela has been officially adopted by the Rosharon family.

I’ve thought a lot about what makes Phillips tick. I believe he thinks he is doing what is right for children, especially babies, whose cases are brought before his court. But I think he has become blasé about human nature, poor families and the justice system.

He seems to have developed a divine complex, taking young lives into his own hands and sending them to foster homes, regardless of the law, whenever he deems biological parents too old, too young, or too imperfect.

It’s strange to say this to a conservative Republican posting videos on Facebook about radical liberals deifying the government.

But, judge, you are the government. And no, you are not all-powerful.

Voters have the power to hold you accountable for your actions. And God willing, they will.

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