The Texas Senate Committee on Jurisprudence

The Texas Senate Committee on Jurisprudence held a public hearing on October 11, 2006, to address the committee’s charge of conducting a thorough and detailed study of the following issues:

1. Examine and make recommendations relating to the jurisdiction of statutory county courts, including the development of standardized
language for Chapter 25, Government Code, to confer specific types of jurisdiction on statutory county courts and to ensure the statutes are
clear and concise.

2. Examine and make recommendations to improve court oversight of fiduciaries appointed to make financial and personal decisions for
wards as well as those appointed to administer an estate or trust.

Other links regarding this hearing are as follows:

Interim Report

Hearing video

Witness list

Hearing minutes

With testimony from probate judges, attorneys and Involuntary Redistribution of Assets victims, this hearing provides great insight into the attitudes and thought processes of those who work within the probate system as well as those who believe they have been abused by this system. Several judges and attorneys testified that the probate system is well functioning, not in need of major reform and then characterized as “disgruntled” others with unflattering stories regarding their probate experiences. Some memorable testimony includes:

“In the state of Texas right now, the controversial Judge Woods would not like to change a thing. Most judges don’t want to change anything because the probate business in Texas is a cottage industry which allows corrupt, compromised, whatever word you want to use, judges to appoint their cronies to literally plunder and rape estates and basically it’s set up to allow them – and it does allow them – to steal from the dead.”
Jon Sisco, Conroe, TX (04:54:45)

“My advice to families is if you have to go to probate court, hold your wallet because it’s going out the door. Don’t go to probate court under any conditions if you want to see your finances come out in a contested matter. I believe that in some instances there, in my opinion, are ongoing criminal enterprises here. I would love to see the legislature in the next session convene a special investigative body to look into not just the four or five that came up today, but the hundreds of cases that would like to tell you about what happened to them.”
Russell Verney, Dallas, TX (06:50:14)

“These people in these specialty courts, they truly have a probate business. They are running it for profit. And it profits their small group, their small circle… I learned that this circle of friends has a name in Harris County. It’s called the “Tomb Raiders Club” and they pride themselves on making a living out of this particular industry that they have created.”
Van Brookshire, Coldspring, TX (06:56:24)

Listen to these quotes in their entirety and in context – they will be even more impactful than the excerpts above. Listed below are those that testified and the approximate times in which their testimony is featured on the video. Several of those testifying are also subjects of articles in the Estate of Denial (EoD) News Archive section.

This hearing is a “must see” for anyone who values the concept of property rights and believes that in death, the intentions of an individual regarding the final distribution of their assets should be honored. Forewarned is forearmed.

00:01:00 Charles, Alfonso Judge, County Court at Law 2, Gregg County (County Court at Law Association), Longview, TX
Ladd, Rusty Judge (County Court at Law Association), Lubbock, TX
McCorkle, Lamar Judge, 133rd District Court (Self), Houston, TX
Wessels, Bob Court Manager (County Courts at Law, Harris County), Houston, TX
00:09:00 Emerson, Sally Attorney (Texas Family Law Foundation), Amarillo, TX
00:21:00 Norman, Susan Attorney and Counselor at Law (Perry Lee Whatley), Houston, TX
00:27:00 Herman, Guy Presiding Statutory Probate Court Judge (Probate Courts of Texas, Probate Court of Travis County), Austin, TX
00:59:00 Epstein, Michael (Self), Spring, TX
Wukoson, David Lawyer (Self; J. Michael Epstein), Houston, TX
01:38:00 Alpert, Robert (Self), Scotttsdale, AZ
02:33:00 Alpert, Roman (Self), Scottsdale, AZ
02:34:00 Wood, Mike Judge, Harris County Probate Court No. 2 (Self), Houston, TX
04:21:00 Karisch, Glenn Attorney (Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section, State Bar of Texas), Austin, TX
Golden, Alvin (Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section, State Bar of Texas), Austin, TX
Wolff, Harry Attorney, Council Member (Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section, State Bar of Texas), San Antonio, TX
04:27:00 Norman, Susan Attorney and Counselor at Law (Perry Lee Whatley), Houston, TX
04:52:00 Sisco, Jon Sole Beneficiary – Distributee (Herbert C. Sisco Estate), Montgomery, TX
05:05:30 Taub, Carolyn (Self), Houston, TX
05:16:45 Conte, Susan (Conte Family Estate/Trust), Houston, TX
05:40:00 Hardie, Rod (Self), Pearland, TX
06:00:00 Tamborello, Gus Attorney (Self), Houston, TX
06:28:00 Verney, Russell (Self), Dallas, TX
06:54:30 Brookshire, Van (Self; Brookshire Family), Coldspring, TX
07:00:00 Conte, Joseph (Self; Conte Investments), Houston, TX