There is no big secret where Dr. Steve Hotze stands politically.
He preaches family values a lot.
His political action committee, The Conservative Republicans of Texas, is feared in Republican circles for the influence it has on Republican political races in Texas.
In a video posted on the Hotze Health & Wellness Center’s website in April of 2014, Hotze is quoted as saying “My faith in Christ directs my personal and business life.”
What most folks don’t know is that Steve Hotze isn’t practicing what his website preaches.
In a Houston courtroom, Hotze is accused of trying to cheat his very own brothers out of their share of the Hotze family business, Compressor Engineering Corporation (CECO), a business his father started and gave to the five sons to share.
It is an ugly family fight that doesn’t seem to jive with the love your kinfolk routine.
Lawsuits make strange bedfellows.
You might think Hotze has Republican lawyers to hire if he really wants to drag the family business out in court.
Instead he hired John Zavitsanos of the law firm of Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C. Zavitsanos is a Democrat who has given money to the Democratic National Committee.
Wonder how that will go over at the Texas GOP Convention this week in San Antonio?
You see, the judge in the Hotze family feud is Fredericka Phillips of the 61st District Court here in Harris County. She is a Democrat too. In fact, Phillips is the Vice-Chairwoman of the Texas Democratic Party.
A funny thing happens when you look at Judge Phillips campaign reports.In the the 2016 political campaign Judge Phillips held her share of campaign fundraisers.
Judge Phillips is clearly a John Zavitsanos favorite.
In April 2016, the lawyers of his law firm donated $8,765.00 to Phillips’ campaign. His law firm threw in $5,000, and lawyers in the firm kicked in the rest.
On October 4, 2016, Phillips threw another fundraiser. There were 20 contributions made the event.Guess how many came from the Mr. Zavitsanos, his law firm and its lawyers?
The firm again donated $5,000 and kicked in for the food and drink. The event raised $8,025 with more than 90% of the donations coming from the AZA law firm or its employees.
After Judge Phillips got elected, she held yet another fundraiser a few months later.
The AZA law firm helped pay for the food and drink at that one too, and they kicked in another $5,000 for Phillips campaign funds, even though she had already been elected and wouldn’t have to run again for years.
Mr. Zavitsanos and his law firm were the top donors to Fredericka Phillips’ campaign in 2016, donating a whopping $20,790 to the campaign. Zavitsanos and company were also the top donors in 2017.
Hotze hired Zavitsanos in March of 2019. We asked the lawyer about his financial ties to the Judge.
“I was hired to try this case because I am a trial lawyer who goes to trial often, something that happens with great frequency with cases in many different courts,” says Zavitsanos.
That’s nice, but a lot of lawyers handle lots of cases, and last time I checked, there are plenty of Republican lawyers too.
Maybe you can argue Steve Hotze thought it was more important to hire a lawyer whose law firm gives a heck of a lot of money to the Judge then worry about party loyalty.
Steve Hotze told Dolcefino Consulting he doesn’t worry about how it looks for a guy who screams about family values to sue his own brothers over money.
Maybe beating his brothers in court and taking their money for himself trumps draining the swamp.
Woodlands based attorney Mary Van Orman will likely face some tough questions from two Texas District Judges in two different courthouses. She clearly has some ‘splainin’ to do.
Van Orman has asked for a new divorce trial for her Houston client Marek Menger, claiming another judge in Montgomery County prevented her from appearing at Menger’s final divorce hearing.
When lawyers have a conflict in their schedule they can request a protective order from a judge. Van Orman had a signed protective order from Judge Tracy Gilbert in Conroe for a child custody case being held in Montgomery County. When Judge Millard held the hearing in Houston anyway, Van Orman had to call in by phone instead. We’ve seen the transcript.
“I’m in the middle of a trial, but I just stepped out. We don’t stop at noon up here in Montgomery County,” Van Orman says. “I’ll take a picture if somebody wants to see a picture. Montgomery County Courthouse.”
Lawyers call on the phone into hearings all the time, so we don’t know why that should require a new trial, but Van Orman now has a bigger problem. Her credibility with the court.
The final judgement in the Menger divorce in Houston had been on the calendar for almost two weeks and was scheduled for February 27, 2018. Van Orman had agreed to the date. She also knew for five months the child custody case was scheduled to start February 26, 2018 in Conroe.
Here’s where it could be real sticky for Ms. Van Orman.
Judge Gilbert’s court tells us they have no records there was even a hearing in the child custody case on February 27, the date of the Menger hearing. Ms. Van Orman called in to the Houston court trying to convince Judge Millard she had done everything she could to try to convince Judge Gilbert to let her off the hook, but she was forced to be at the hearing in Conroe.
“I have tried everything to accommodate,” Van Orman told Judge Millard. She even quoted Judge Gilbert, ‘You are in trial with me.’”
Can’t wait to see how Ms. Van Orman explains this, but it also highlights questions about the practice of not getting your dates straight. Court hearings cost moms and dads money. Maybe it is time for lawyers to start remembering that.02-27-2018 HEARING TRANSCRIPT
The “dog ate my homework” sometimes works for kids in school, but high-priced lawyers in the Harris County Family Courthouse certainly can’t use that as a reason for not showing up for an important
So, let’s ask Woodland’s attorney Mary Van Orman what she does.
Van Orman now wants a redo for her client Marek Menger, even though his wife got her divorce granted in February. Four months ago. Finally, an ugly, expensive fight that had lasted two years.
Now Van Orman wants a new trial, in part because she claims she couldn’t show up in Judge Millard’s court in Houston on February 27 th , because she was in a trial in Conroe in Judge Gilbert’s court. She even produced a signed protective order from the Judge in Montgomery County.
What is a lawyer to do?
But here is the problem. The final judgement in the Menger divorce had long been scheduled for that very day in February. You know what time the Judge in Conroe gave Mary Van Orman her get out of
court free card? 10:30 in the morning, on the very same day.
Mary Van Orman had only notified the Houston judge in the Menger case of a possible conflict at the very last minute, even though she had agreed to the court date to end the Menger divorce earlier that month. A court transcript shows Van Orman tried to convince the Judge that these things just happen, saying “I have tried everything to accommodate.”
Really? Except admitting to Judge Millard in Houston that she knew about the court date in Conroe for a very long time.
We have court records from that other case in Conroe showing Mary Van Orman knew about the trial date since October 2017, five months earlier.
Guess who was on the phone during the Menger hearing, asking Judge Millard to let her off the hook because she had a protective order and just can’t get out of it? If you guessed Mary Van Orman, you may win a prize in our continuing Family Injustice Investigation.
Judge Millard said too bad. Good for her.
But Mary Van Orman was still allowed to say anything she wanted to. She was on the phone during the
So, don’t you think it’s a stretch to now claim you would have said different stuff if you had been there in person, instead of on the phone?
Is that really a reason to start a long nasty divorce case all over again?
We know it means more money for lawyers, like Mary Van Orman.
Is that what Family Court should really be all about?
It is time to clean up the Harris County Family Courthouse.
Every year, tens of thousands of Houstonians get caught up in Family Injustice, dragged through expensive divorces and child custody cases.
Dolcefino Consulting is showing you the money trail – the financial contributions from divorce lawyers who fund the campaigns of the judges who have the power to take away your kids.
Over the last five years, the family law judges have received millions of dollars in campaign money:
Roy L. Moore
Alicia Franklin York
The total amount of contributions for these judges in the past five years is $3,067,075.39.
“We shouldn’t elect family judges based on political party,” says Dolcefino Consulting President Wayne Dolcefino, “We have created a system that doesn’t pass the smell test. Big contributions from lawyers to judges and big paydays for the lawyers. You do the math.”
You should look at this website before you hire a lawyer, or step in some of the more controversial family law courtrooms.
This is the introduction to our Family Injustice Roadmap on Dolcefino.com
Now you can see where these judges’ money is coming from…
Embattled Harris County Family Judge, James Lombardino is setting up a potential ethics showdown over his relationship with big divorce lawyer Bobby Newman.
Lombardino has now denied a motion seeking his disqualification in the hotly contested child custody fight between James Rooney and Kora Leach.
Houston lawyer John LaGrappe had sought the constitutional disqualification and a voiding of the Judge’s court orders in the case.
The motion details a “systematic and continuous” financial relationship between Newman and Judge Lombardino and a personal relationship between the two. Newman has been representing Judge Lombardino’s son, David, in his own divorce since June of 2017. There are allegations he’s done it for free.
Judge Lombardino chose not to get out of the case, and that sets up an interesting showdown. First, the newly appointed administrative judge, Susan Brown, has to decide if she will force Lombardino off the case or not. There is the potential for a public court hearing, where LaGrappe could subpoena Newman and court workers from the 308th District Court.
The Lombardino-Newman connections have been the focus of part of a Dolcefino Consulting Investigation into Family Injustice in the Harris County Family Courts.
Motion to disqualify or in the alternative for recusal of Judge James Lombardino:MOTION TO DISQUALIFY FILE STAMPED