FamilyInjustice

Woodlands attorney Mary Van Orman just can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble.

Today Van Orman was slapped with court papers to show up in a Montgomery County courtroom next Thursday, August 9th and she faces the real possibility of going to jail.

Van Orman was sanctioned by Montgomery County Judge Tracey Gilbert in June and told to write a letter of apology and write a check to another lawyer for being downright unprofessional to her, including a loud and bizarre confrontation at a Conroe bar.

Guess what? Van Orman just ignored the Judge. Can’t wait to see how that goes over?

Conroe attorney Kate Bihm is now asking Judge Gilbert to hold Van Orman in contempt of court and put her in jail.

Van Orman seems to get in a lot of trouble, allegations of family assault, making up stories to get out of court appearances and showing up to mediation late and barefoot. Van Orman took turns laughing and crying during the Gilbert hearing in June. The hearing will surely be one to watch.

While Van Orman faces mounting scrutiny, there is one client who seems to be really pleased with Mary Van Orman’s work. Ousted Petro-Valve, Inc. President, Marek Menger changed the sign outside one of his businesses to this…

Marek is hoping Van Orman can pull another stall job before Judge Lisa Millard, the Harris County judge in his own divorce case.

After two long years, the Menger divorce case should be over, but Mary Van Orman wants a do over, even though she was on the phone during the hearing where the divorce was granted

Wonder what the sign will read when Judge Millard does the right thing in this climate of Family Injustice.

When it’s over, it’s over.

The wife of a Houston Swat Officer has been sent to Galveston County Jail today because she refused to turn her two teenagers back to the veteran Houston Police officer.

Mindy and Allan Comstock are locked in a vicious two-and-a-half-year long divorce and custody battle, playing out in court this week. Galveston County Judge John Grady took the rare step of holding Comstock in contempt. She will be allowed to return to court in the morning, but likely jailed again tomorrow night.

“My children have been through enough. They do not want to be with their father and they are old enough to make that choice,” says Mindy Comstock. “This is an outrageous abuse of power by Judge Grady.”

The kids have been staying with Mindy for part of the summer and Comstock says they simply don’t want to go back to live with their father. Should they be forced to?

Last week, Allan’s mother in law filed a criminal complaint alleging Officer Comstock abused the elderly couple by making tens of thousands of dollars of unauthorized purchases with their credit cards. Comstock has made several allegations against Officer Comstock, from his use of pornography to misuse of evidence photos, but virtually all of the complaints were dismissed by the Houston Police Internal Affairs Unit.

“Over the years I have had several complaints from women who want to report domestic issues with their law enforcement husbands and feel the system doesn’t care,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “It is time for these women to be taken seriously.”

There is an amicus appointed to represent the interests of the children. Christine Mangle was sick today and not in court, a weird time for the Judge to take this unusual action.

The trial is scheduled to continue in Judge Grady’s Galveston County Court at Law 1 in the morning, but Comstock’s arrest has shined a light on a bigger issue, women who feel they are ignored when they complain about abuse by their law enforcement husbands.

“If there is a lawyer already paid to represent the children, who are teenagers, why don’t the kids get a vote?” asks Dolcefino. “I wonder if they even know their mother is in jail.”

Mindy Comstock is represented by Attorney Rick Ramos. Members of the media may contact Wayne Dolcefino for comment.

If you want to know if the lawyer trying to take away your kids in a custody case is a friend of the Judge you need to look at campaign contributions.

The newest reports are now available in our Family Injustice investigation.

We took a closer look at the campaign pay of Judge James Lombardino, under growing fire for family injustice cases.

Lombardino raised nearly $ 50,000 dollars in just six months, a lot of it coming from a fundraiser Dolcefino Consulting secretly filmed at the fancy steakhouse Mastros in Uptown.

The fundraiser was thrown by Jared Woodfill, the former Republican Party Chairman, who practices in Lombardino’s court. Woodfill’s clients have complained about Lombardino and may wonder why their lawyer is trying to get the controversial Judge re-elected anyway.

Lombardino stands apart from most of his peers in the amount of in-kind contributions he’s received, namely fundraisers by family lawyers practicing in his court.

Bobby King Newman has been one of Lombardino’s top donors over the years, giving him tens of thousands of dollars and appearing in many cases in the 308th family court. The relationship has prompted lots of complaints, even among lawyers.

Bobby Newman didn’t donate a single cent this period, but his partner did.

“The latest filings make it clear once again this system of electing Family Court Judges is inherently corrupt”, says Wayne Dolcefino President of Dolcefino Consulting.

“When you are fighting for your child, you shouldn’t have to worry if the Judge owes a favor to the lawyer on the other side, period.”

You should see who is paying the Judge in your divorce or child custody case. It shouldn’t matter, but our investigation shows it does. It might even explain why you are losing.

The new records can be viewed on our Harris County Judge page.

Woodlands attorney Mary Van Orman is at it again.

She doesn’t like to show up for court hearings. She’s been busted for fibbing to judges. She’s also had some issues following the law. Now, she’s ignoring a court order that may cost her some time in jail.

Back in June Montgomery County Judge Tracey Gilbert sanctioned Van Orman for her inappropriate behavior toward Conroe attorney Katherine Bihm. Judge Gilbert’s court order required Van Orman to pay up and apologize to Katherine Bihm.

Guess what?

Van Orman failed to comply. A motion filed by Bihm with Judge Gilbert’s court alleges that Van Orman has failed to pay Bihm $1,500 or write the apology letter. She was supposed to do both by the end of June.

Bihm is now asking Judge Gilbert to hold Mary Van Orman in contempt of court, put her in jail and fine her for both violations of the court order. If convicted, Van Orman faces up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $500 for each count. Bihm is asking that after Van Orman serves her sentence for criminal contempt that Van Orman serve time for civil contempt as well.

The hearing on Bihm’s motion is set for August 9, 2018 at 9 AM in the 418th District Court in Montgomery County. That’s just one day after Van Orman will be back in a Harris County court trying to get a new divorce trial for her client Marek Menger.

In a divorce that has dragged on for nearly two and a half years, Van Orman is getting ready to argue that her client needs a new trial because she couldn’t appear at the final divorce hearing. Van Orman told Harris County Judge Lisa Millard that she was in the middle of a trial in a child custody case in Montgomery County on the day of the final divorce hearing in the Menger case. We’ve already reported there’s no records Van Orman was in the Montgomery County court that day.

Maybe Van Orman is auditioning for a reality TV show. She’s board certified in family law, but she may want to brush up on criminal law too.

Woodlands attorney Mary Van Orman has been making waves lately, asking judges to punish lawyers for not following the rules. In the last few weeks Van Orman has asked for sanctions against Conroe attorney, Kate Bihm.

Next Monday, she’ll be in court asking Judge Lisa Millard to sanction attorneys Michael Bynane and Carlos Ryerson.

Oops.

It looks like Van Orman has an issue following the rules herself.
Back in February, Van Orman was charged with Assault Family Violence by Montgomery County Sherriff’s deputies when an argument between Van Orman and her niece turned violent.

The incident report states that Van Orman shoved her niece into a headboard, put her hands on her niece’s neck, grabbed her niece’s hair, and pushed her out of the bedroom while yelling in her face. The incident report alleges that Van Orman’s 16-year-old son had to restrain Van Orman at one point and was the one who called police.

This incident wasn’t Van Orman’s first brush with law enforcement.

In 2016, while Montgomery County Sherriff’s deputies were investigating a hit and run accident, they talked to Van Orman and another individual outside of the Cru Wine Bar in Market Street in The Woodlands. The incident report states the driver was taken into custody for driving under the influence after telling police that he and Van Orman were coming back from Houston after celebrating a court victory.

According to the report, Van Orman, at one point barefoot and slurring her speech, took the opportunity to lecture officers about what an important lawyer she was.

According to the report, Van Orman “claimed she was getting irritated and was ready to call the District Attorney of Montgomery County, Brett Ligon, who she claimed was a close personal friend of hers.” Van Orman also “stated several times she was a high-profile attorney in family law.”

Yikes.

It appears that Van Orman has no problem asking a judge to punish those she thinks have done something wrong. Unfortunately, it looks like when Mary Van Orman does something wrong, she seems to think she’s above the law.

Woodland’s Attorney Mary Van Orman has an apology to make and a check to write.
Montgomery County District Judge Tracy Gilbert has spent the last few days looking at videotapes of Van Orman’s bizarre conduct in action, including outbursts in a Conroe restaurant in a room full of patrons.

Guess he saw enough.

Van Orman has now been ordered to apologize to Conroe Attorney Kate Bihm for her recent conduct, and then deliver a check for $1,500.00 to Bihm’s office by the end of the month.

Bihm had filed a motion accusing Van Orman of “cruel, boorish, and bizarre behavior.”

“During a day-long hearing last week Van Orman certainly proved up the bizarre part,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting, “She took turns crying and smiling all day long. I am sorry I couldn’t videotape it to share.”

As part of her punishment, Van Orman has been ordered to complete a legal education course online. It is entitled “The Power of Professionalism as a Strategy for Effective Advocacy,” and then she has to send the Judge proof she took the class.

I think we all get the point.

In court, Van Orman seemed fixated on reporting by Dolcefino Consulting on her conduct in another divorce case. She may soon have to explain to another Judge if she told the truth in her court.

Van Orman had told Houston Judge Lisa Millard that she would be unable to attend the final hearing in the high dollar Menger divorce case because she was in trial in Judge Gilbert’s court in Montgomery County. According to Montgomery County records, no hearing was held on February 27, 2018 in the other case.

We will be in Judge Millard’s court the next time Mary Van Orman shows up in the Menger case, and please let us bring a camera. Some things deserve to be recorded for future law students.

Mary Van Orman Sanction

There’s more trouble brewing for Woodlands attorney Mary Van Orman.

Van Orman now faces sanctions hearing in the 418 th District Court in Montgomery County.

Conroe attorney Kate Bihm filed a motion for sanctions against Van Orman, accusing her in an eleven-page motion of “cruel, boorish, and bizarre behavior.”

The motion details how Van Orman showed in court two hours late, without shoes on her feet. It further goes on to states that Van Orman has repeatedly been late to hearings and
on March 20, 2018, failed to appear at a hearing entirely.

What was Mary Van Orman doing on March 20, 2018? Why couldn’t she attend the
scheduled hearing?

Here’s what the motion says:

“Moreover, on March 19, 2018, the date on which Ms. Van Orman insists that she needed to be at her son’s bedside due to his medical condition, Ms. Van Orman posted on social
media that her son was flying by himself on United Airlines, belying her allegedly sworn motion for continuance that Ms. Van Orman could not travel.”

Did Mary Van Orman fib to a judge? Where have we heard that before?

Dolcefino Consulting has reported Van Orman told Houston Judge Lisa Millard that she would be unable to attend the final hearing in the Menger divorce case on February 27, 2018 because she was in trial in Judge Gilbert’s court in Montgomery County. According to Montgomery County records, no hearing was held on February 27, 2018 in the other case.

Bihm’s motion goes on to detail a phone call between Bihm and Van Orman where Van Orman asked Bihm to agree to a continuance in the child custody case. Bihm declined to agree to the continuance and according to Bihm’s motion, Van Orman responded by saying “God bless you, Kate, that’s why you’ll never be a mother, because you’re a f—–ng bitch.”

Van Orman apparently then hung up the phone.

According to Bihm this is not the first time Van Orman has used offensive language toward her. Bihm claims Van Orman called her an “a–hole” for objecting to rescheduling a hearing.

Bihm states in her motion that she was told by more than one attorney that Van Orman could be heard in the Red Brick Tavern “making statements to the effect that she would have Bihm’s “head on a plate.”

Bihm further alleges that Van Orman has called her vulgar names and claimed that Bihm is a liar and unethical. Bihm is asking Judge Gilbert, the very judge Van Orman got to sign an order to use to try and get out of the Menger hearing.

This is getting bizarre.

Family Injustice. What Judges will do the right thing and restore justice?

Mary Van Orman Sanction

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?

Twenty.

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.

Harris County Family Injustice investigation

02-27-2018 HEARING TRANSCRIPT
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