DALLAS – Starting next week, September 1, Texas homeowners in the stressful and sometimes confusing situation of home foreclosure will have new protections thanks to the teamwork of Judge Martin Hoffman of the Dallas County 68th Judicial District Court, State Senator Royce West and State Representative Rafael Anchía.
Previously, if mortgage companies improperly submitted forms, or homeowners did not understand documents provided, judges had limited discretion in deciding whether to grant foreclosure. More worrisome, mortgage companies only needed to send notices to district clerks, who then sent a notice to a homeowner, without proof that papers were served at a correct address. Judge Hoffman was concerned that these rules limited judges’ ability to decide these cases fairly and suggested legislation to restore hearings and the right to order mediation. House Bill 2978, adopted in the 83rd Legislature's regular session, remedies problems by allowing judges the discretion to hold hearings and order mediation in expedited foreclosures and allows mortgage companies to personally serve court papers so that people don't lose their homes without knowing they are in foreclosure.
Initial opposition to the changes for due process and adequate notice was dropped after successful negotiations concerning timeliness and cost. Months later, time ran out on the first versions of the bills, written by Judge Hoffman and carried by Rep. Anchía and Sen. West in their respective chambers. Senator West shepherded the substance of the bills into HB 2978.
"Senator West, through this effort, was able to pass the rules championed by Judge Hoffman into a new law that will surely prove vital to assisting those in need, the ability to try and save their homes when they find themselves the subject of an expedited foreclosure," said Ryan Lee, who worked as General Counsel for the Senate Jurisprudence Committee during the 83rd regular session.
"With the support of local judges, members of the legislature, and the cooperation of Texas’ banker and home associations we were able to pass legislation that clears up much of the uncertainty surrounding the use of mediation in expedited foreclosure proceedings," said Rep. Anchía. "HB 2978 clarifies when and how mediation can be used in expedited foreclosure proceedings, allowing homeowners an opportunity to avoid foreclosure and fulfill their obligations," he said.
Because of these reforms, the Texas Attorneys Mediators Coalition awarded Judge Hoffman "Trial Judge of the Year" for the State of Texas and proclaimed Senator West their "Legislator of the Year".
Judge Hoffman is proud of these new changes. "HB 2978 again gives homeowners a voice in the foreclosure process, while still allowing these foreclosures to be handled expeditiously and fairly to all parties," he said.
DALLAS – Today the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted to join the federal lawsuit filed by North
Texas Congressman Marc Veasey and other elected officials and voters to stop the enforcement of Texas’
discriminatory photo Voter ID law.
“This terrible law has been stuck down by the DOJ and then later denounced for ‘strict unforgiving burdens on the poorand racial minorities in Texas’ – nothing has changed,” said Taylor Holden, Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Director. “Perry and Abbott are not interested in electoral integrity, they simply want to restrict access to voting,” she said.
Last year, the Texas Secretary of State’s office did not find matching driver licenses or state-issued photo IDs for 2.4 million Texas voters, including 220,000 Dallas County voters. Dallas County has Department of Public Safety ID-issuing offices, but none in the southeastern quadrant of Dallas County, where many minority and poor voters live.
Despite claims to the contrary, Voter ID comes at a high cost. Voters must take time off work, travel and pay for the legal documents that are prerequisites to obtaining the state’s “free” photo Voter ID. Birth certificates can cost between $8 and $25. Marriage licenses, required for married women whose birth certificates include a maiden name, can cost between $8 and $20. To compare, in today’s dollars, the notorious poll tax would be $10.64.
We are proud of the Commissioners Court for their courageous action in support of sacred voting rights, which are as important as public health and public works.
Small media roundup:
Dallas Morning News: "Dallas County taxpayers will fund both sides of voter ID fight"
Burnt Orange Report: "Dallas County Joins Marc Veasey in Fight Against Voter ID Law"
DALLAS – Today’s Dallas Morning News says white male Democrats in the Texas Legislature are becoming "nearly extinct". For years, Republican gerrymandering packed Democrats into minority districts for their own political advantage and it comes as no surprise that Republican policies are unappealing to women and minorities, who have no qualms electing people representative of the makeup of Texas.
Dallas County Republican Party Chair Wade Emmert took a swipe at our national party and talked about extremes.
“If Emmert thinks that allowing women and people of color into positions of leadership is a move sharply to the left, it's only because his party jumped into a ditch on the right side of the road,” said Taylor Holden, Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Director.
Republicans in Texas have a strong good old boy mentality, while we welcome the participation of every color, gender and orientation.
DALLAS – Taylor Holden, a Texas Hill Country native, is coming back to Dallas to join the Dallas County Democratic Party as executive director. She will lead our small professional staff and hundreds of volunteers.
"We are pleased to have Taylor return to Dallas and do for the county party what she did for President Obama's campaign," said Darlene Ewing, Dallas County Democratic Party Chair. "She is knowledgeable, hard-working and passionate, which will enhance what we have accomplished in Dallas and continue to help us grow," Ewing said.
Holden has years of volunteer and professional campaign experience. Most recently in 2012, she worked for President Obama’s reelection campaign in the role of North Texas Regional Field Director, focusing her work primarily in Dallas County.
Her work on various campaigns, including those led by the Democratic National Committee and Battleground Texas, left her with a firm belief in the power of grassroots organizing and the importance of coalition building within and across communities. Holden will join us in mid-December, but is taking on several exciting new party projects in the meantime, traveling to Dallas frequently.
Ms. Holden made the following statement about her return:
"Dallas County became my home last year during my work for the President's reelection, and I can't wait to come back. There is incredible progressive work taking place in Dallas, and I am excited and honored to be a part of it. Together, we're going to engage our supporters and expand our base through voter registration and education, and run grassroots programs that tap into new communities that make Dallas County great. We're going to keep our county blue and we're going to have a great time doing it."
DALLAS - Dallas County Tax Assessor/Collector John R. Ames attended
the 79th annual conference of the Tax Assessor-Collector Association (TACA) of Texas where he was unanimously
elected by fellow County Tax Assessors to serve as the President-Elect for this statewide organization. He will
assume the role of President at the next annual conference in June 2014 that will be held in Fort Worth.
Dallas County has never before been represented on the TACA board and the Dallas County Tax Assessor has never before served as the president of this statewide association. Mr. Ames represents the largest county on the board and will bring a large county perspective when discussions are held that will influence operations, efficiencies and improvements in the Tax Office operations statewide.
Congratulations to Mr. Ames.
DALLAS – Probate courts in Texas will soon be able to keep confidential the whereabouts of people who need to create a guardianship but who are also protected by domestic violence protective orders. Judge Chris Wilmoth of Dallas County Probate Court 2 drafted the provision that State Representatives Rafael Anchía and Elliott Naishtat sponsored in the Texas House. The proposal was incorporated into H.B. 2080. The bill passed the House and Senate and was signed by the governor at the end of the 2013 regular session.
Before Judge Wilmoth's initiative, Texas law required an applicant to disclose the address of a proposed ward and proposed guardian, and made no exceptions for the victims of domestic violence. The proposed ward's address is needed so that a sheriff's deputy or constable can serve process on the proposed ward. The proposed guardian's address is used in connection with a background check and supervision of the guardianship. Understandably, people protected by domestic violence protective orders would prefer not to tell their abusers where they could be found.
"There was an important gap in the law complicating efforts to protect people. It was an obvious change that was needed," said Judge Wilmoth. "The city of Dallas and Dallas County have made a major push in the area of domestic violence, and I am very honored to have worked with Representative Anchía to add to that effort."
Borrowing from procedures already in place in family court, the new legislation allows an applicant to omit the
addresses of persons who are being protected by a family violence protective order. Those addresses will be
maintained by the court in a nonpublic file. Working with the applicant, the courts will enter orders to govern
issuance and service of citation and service of pleadings in the course of the guardianship proceedings.
Under the new law, applicants are required to attach a copy of the domestic violence protective order to qualify for the confidential treatment of home addresses. The law also prohibits those restrained by a domestic violence protective order from serving as guardians.
DALLAS – Dallas County Criminal Court 10's Judge Rob Canas and his probation staff traveled to Detroit this week to examine the Detroit domestic violence court's practice of reviewing offenders in small groups instead of as individuals. Dallas County Criminal Court 10 is one of the county's two dedicated domestic violence courts.
"Currently in Dallas County we monitor individuals rather than groups," said Judge Canas. "The Detroit courts review individuals in groups, which allows more high-risk offenders to be monitored." Judge Canas added that the method used in Detroit has been shown to reduce recidivism rates. His court will continue to investigate and consider the change if it will enhance offender accountability and the safety of victims and their children.
Judge Canas' court has been named as one of only three "Mentor Courts" in the United States by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. This status signifies that Judge Canas' court is used as an example for best practices by other domestic violence courts around the country. Judge Canas was instrumental in restoring $400,000 in funding for Dallas County from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, which had been lost under his predecessor.
Judge Canas recently joined the faculty of the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence. In this capacity, Judge Canas will be training other judges all over the country on domestic violence legal issues. This year, Mosaic Family Services named Judge Canas the 2013 Champion of Human Rights. He is the recipient of multiple awards from domestic violence organizations.
Just ten days ago the Texas Republican Party announced they'd spend millions of dollars on outreach to youth and minority voters -- half of those newly targeted voters will be women. Telling Texas women that they are not entitled to fair pay is a hypocritical way to start that outreach. Governor Perry's veto is another assault in the Republican Party's war against women.
DALLAS – Democrats will gather next Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m., to honor Dallas County elected officials at the Seventh Annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner, benefiting the Dallas County Democratic Party, which is working on yet another county sweep Who: Paul Begala, Keynote Speaker, political commentator and contributor to CNN, The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast and chief strategist for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign. Darlene Ewing, Dallas County Democratic Party Chair
What: Seventh Annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner. Individual tickets available via the Dallas County Democratic Party website, www.dallasdemocrats.org
When: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 6:30 p.m., dinner
Where: Hyatt Regency Dallas, Marquis Ballroom 300 Reunion Boulevard, Dallas 75207