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Rebekah Montgomery is one of a growing number of Tarrant County parents who allege Judge Jesse Nevarez routinely puts his attorney friends over the best interests of children. Courtesy Instagram

When Rebekah Montgomery read a court order stating she appeared before 231st District Judge Jesse Nevarez last month, she was unsettled but not surprised.

Montgomery said she had not been in Texas since the end of March, though Tarrant County remains her place of residence.

“I’ve seen a lot of [suspicious] things play out in my case,” she continued. “The fact is I was not there. For them to put that I was present doesn’t sit right. It’s not ethical.”

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Montgomery has not seen her teenage son since December. That’s when Nevarez granted her ex-husband a temporary restraining order against her on the allegation that she didn’t stock adequate food at her Fort Worth home. Her ex-husband allegedly used the order to pick up their son from her house while she was at work.

Several parents currently or recently litigating in the 231st allege similar procedural irregularities by Nevarez and his alleged inability to follow the law consistently. Early into a divorce or child custody suit, we’re told, one party gains favor with the 231st (allegedly through personal connections) and enjoys lopsided rulings regardless of evidence. Nevarez, based on his public social media posts, does not hide his allegiance to certain lawyers. In 2017, he praised two prominent local family law attorneys with the firm KoonsFuller on social media.

“Listening to my good friends Heather King and Jessica Hall Janicek do their presentations after lunch,” the judge posted.

Weekly staff writer Edward Brown recently witnessed Nevarez’ undue favoritism when the judge attempted to relinquish jurisdiction over Brown’s son one day before a scheduled evidentiary hearing (“ Courting Fatherhood,” April 26), possibly to avoid the presentation of evidence on the matter. Nevarez’ order falsely says that Brown’s son has no relatives in Texas even as the teenager maintains nearly a dozen family members throughout North Texas. Our staff writer recently filed several motions to overturn the fraudulent order to sever his son’s case from Tarrant County — a judicial act that impedes Brown’s ability to see his only son.

Like many 231st parents, Montgomery wrote a negative review of the 231st on Google last year. Associate Judge Kevin Schmid subsequently placed a gag order on her that quashes her First Amendment rights to publicly express her beliefs and criticize government misconduct.

The family court cartel often seeks to silence critics. Brooks McKenzie remains in hiding after a Tarrant County judge (unnamed in court documents) recently issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged contempt of court. McKenzie, who holds a Ph.D. in child development, is an outspoken critic of 233rd Judge Ken Newell and Associate Judge Kate Stone, both of whom allegedly stripped him of his parental rights to his son based on false allegations. Newell and Stone consistently ruled against McKenzie based on allegations that were never substantiated, according to court documents the father shared with us (“ Corrupt Courts Destroying Families,” Oct 2022). McKenzie believes his Christian faith made him a target. Indeed, Stone court-ordered the father to not pray with his son.

Two days after McKenzie spoke at a conservative grassroots group meeting where he called out Newell and Stone for alleged judicial misconduct, a judge tied to the 233rd scheduled a contempt of court hearing, alleging that McKenzie, an unemployed public speaker, failed to pay child support. The day before the April 18 hearing, McKenzie, based on court documents, moved his child custody case from Tarrant County to the United States District Court’s Northern District of Texas. Such federal removals are legally permissible if a plaintiff can argue that the state courts are violating his or her constitutional rights.

Judge Newell declined to comment on our reporting, a 233rd spokesperson told us, because the April 18 hearing was not presided over by Newell or Stone. The spokesperson declined to tell us which judge enforced the 233rd’s order.

Montgomery recently filed a motion to recuse Nevarez, based on his alleged failure to follow due process and Texas Family Code.

Nevarez “aided and abetted” Montgomery’s ex-husband on Dec 16, the recusal motion reads, when the judge allowed the father to violate the mother’s court-ordered visitation time with her son based on allegations that were “unreasonable, biased, and groundless.”

Like an increasing number of parents in the 231st, Montgomery recently went pro se, meaning she ditched her attorney in favor of self-representation. Filing motions on her own, the single mother has found, adds an extra layer of protection from willfully misguided family attorney recommendations and potentially unlawful maneuverings by Nevarez and the family court cartel.

This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for clarity and concision.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Bottom line is, if you have a bunch of people claiming there is a problem with a court, there is a reason why. What goes on in a compromised court is not what you are going to see in our other courts on a consistent basis. In a comprised court, connections are THE only thing that matter. Everything comes down to who is more connected to the Judge. You can predict the outcome of any case based solely on which attorneys are involved. In the big money cases, they almost never end and what goes on outside of court is shocking. There is so much unnecessary pain and suffering, all because one landed in a compromised court. We can do better Tarrant County, I know we can!

  2. I’m still trying to figure out how K. became an amicus in my case. I met the dude once through my ex attorney in February 2023. She introduced K. and told me he’s an old friend and they go way back. Said he could be be an amicus if I wanted because amicus works for the children. Is that even accurate? I said I’d think about it. No contract and no interaction with K. since February and I never agreed to him being an amicus or any amicus involvement at all. How does one get an amicus when both parents aren’t even aware? Pure sneakiness is all I can think of.

    • My heart goes out to you. I think I know your amicus, because he was involved in my case. He’s one of Judge Nevarez’s close personal friends. He’s connected to certain attorneys and judges. I can’t stand that guy, because he’s creepy! He shouldn’t even be allowed around children!

  3. Leaving the parenting of your children to the government is a bad idea. If Ms. Montgomery had received the favorable rulings, her child’s father would be accusing the judge of corruption and the author could still ask if the family law system is “a cartel.” There will always be winners and losers, but with family law the stakes are so high and outcomes are often sad.

    Oh, and if you truly believe that a judge shows favoritism to certain attorneys, why the hell would you go pro se? That’s actually an argument for finding the judge’s better friend to represent you.

    • How is aiding and abetting the kidnap of a child only “sad”? It’s actually beyond sad. It’s corruption, immoral, unethical, and puts the child in danger, placing him with his abusive parent. When someone who swears their allegiance to the US Constitution goes rogue, it’s called treason. When the parent and the judge have possible connections, it’s called working the system, favoritism, and fraternization (under the UCMJ). Treason while hurting people and families also falls under crimes against humanity. What Nevarez does is illegal and anyone who helps him accomplish this is also part of the problem. They should receive the appropriate punishment for their crimes. I know as a peasant, I would. They put their pants on one leg at a time too. In fact, they should set the standard. But higher ups have a say-so in that. They’re all connected. If you follow the money trail, it screams loudly. Corruption runs deep.

    • You are negating the facts laid out in the article and jumping to the “bitter parent” argument that those in power use to criticize any parent who questions the family court system. I found Bekah’s case to be alarming, not because she didn’t receive favorable rulings, as you say, but due to the fraudulent and unlawful actions of the 231st. Also, any time I hear or read someone attack someone for not hiring an attorney when it is well established that family law attorneys backstab clients frequently, I have to wonder if that critic is beholden to this system somehow.

    • The issue is there shouldn’t be favorable rulings within any court. In addition, what if a favorable ruling to one parent means severing all ties with another parent? Those are the parents that are stuck in the past, hate their ex more than they love their children, have power and control issues and are obsessive to the point that they will do or say anything to erase another parent. Those are the types that will fabricate a story about sexual or child abuse without even hesitating, meanwhile the children that really need help are slipping through the system. Those types however can’t get far unless they have a certain type of attorney within a compromised court.

      If you are lucky enough to get out of one of those courts, what are the next set of Judges supposed to do with us? It puts them in an incredibly difficult position because it means they would essentially have to go against the previous Judge/s. The Judges that are trying their best to run a clean court don’t even want to touch our cases. One dirty Judge or court can soil the rest–Tarrant County family courts are like a big fish bowl where something happening in one court can have a rippling effect on one or more of the other 5 courts.

      The solution to a compromised court can’t be to find the attorney more connected to the Judge. People entering the system do not even know which courts around here are compromised let alone, how to figure it out. In addition, they don’t know which attorneys are closer to a Judge. That takes years to figure out, but by then, most are out of money and it is a scorched earth situation.

  4. Jesse sent me a friend request when I was in his court. He promised to take care of my case, but then didn’t. He let Judge DeVos destroy our family, while he looked the other way. DO NOT accept a friend request from him. If you do, don’t believe him when he tells you that he will help you, because he won’t.

  5. Evidence. Get evidence and ask questions like you are ignorant. Save everything and when in doubt, always double check, follow-up, and email. Record what you can when you have conversations. Stories are one thing (and they are terrible and heartbreaking) but evidence will secure a conviction.

  6. Sadly and unbelievably, judges rely on their own thoughts and beliefs rather than objective evidence to make their rulings. The rule of law means nothing to judges, neither does the code of ethics or oath of office. Judicial conduct organizations laugh off complaints about judges. Citizens must demand reform.

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