Tarrant Co. Probate Judges Protect Their Own

If the circus in Collin County isn’t a big enough argument against one-party government, the scandal brewing in the Tarrant County probate courts should be. I’ve linked to stories here and here  about Judge Pat Ferchill. The judge, perhaps as a result of the growing press attention to his penchant for secret ex-parte hearings and favored advocates, recused himself from the Covington case, where a Down Syndrome girl’s parents were removed as guardians because they objected to a group home’s use of psychotropic drugs to sedate her.  The motion to re-hear the case then went to his colleague, Judge Steven M. King.

Yesterday, Judge King postponed the hearing scheduled for today. He said it was “because of the election” and that “D Magazine had endorsed Ferchill’s opponent.” Here are the relevant two paragraphs from my editorial in the current issue:

In Tarrant County, it is the GOP that dominates with straight-ticket voting. For County Probate Court No. 2, they elected Pat Ferchill. This judge appears to have turned his probate court into a racket, holding ex parte hearings with favored attorneys, terminating guardianship rights of parents over their disabled children, and taking advantage of the elderly. Fort Worth Weekly and the Texas Tribune have done an excellent job of tracking the judge’s suspect rulings.

When no Democrat ran against Ferchill, long-time Fort Worth attorney Bob Shelton took up the cause and put his name on the ballot as a Libertarian. Republicans, do Fort Worth a favor. Vote for the Libertarian.

Apparently Judge King did not want an open hearing attended by the media where the pecularities of Judge Ferchill’s rulings and the worthiness of the evidence he relied on would be examined. Judge King is running unopposed for re-election. But, as noted above, Judge Ferchill is not.

Can a judge just willy-nilly postpone a hearing? Rule 251 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure:

No application for a continuance shall be heard before the defendant files his defense, nor shall any continuance be granted except for sufficient cause supported by affidavit, or by consent of the parties, or by operation of law.


  • Rico

    To answer your question, yes, a judge can decide, sua sponte (latin for “on one’s own volition”, roughly), for any reason, to postpone a hearing. The judge need not comply with TRCP Rule 251, which is generally directed to the parties and their counsel.

    In current parlance, that’s what the judge do.

  • MP

    The court does what it do.

  • aaron

    That’s the way law go.

  • ick, NO, You are not being too hard on Ferchill! Only those who do not know how he conducts his court, the selected cohorts he awards with fees from taxpayers or wards’ estates, or those getting salaries would say otherwise. You will not find more honorable citizens than Frank and Chila Covington. They are devoted to their daughter and will never give up fighting for her. Judges Ferchill and King know they have made the wrong decision regarding guardianship of Ceci but will not admit it. King should recuse himself as did Ferchill. Better yet, give guardianship of Ceci back to the Covingtons and avoid the brewing scandal. By the way, what ethical judges would feel they have the right to rule in a case involving a company of which they were founding directors? That company is GSI (Guardianship Services, Inc.) and that is the company awarded guardianship of Ceci. VOTERS, CAST YOUR VOTE FOR BOB SHELTON!