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Collin County, like the rest of Texas, elects its judges. The courts these judges preside over are a part of government few of us get to see, and even fewer know how to choose who to vote for.
This year only one judge is facing primary opposition. Judge Charles Sandoval of the 380th District court is being challenged by McKinney attorney Suzanne Wooten.
Primary races for judges can be interesting. The smaller turnout in a primary makes it possible for a relatively small group to exert a large influence over the outcome of a judicial election.
In Collin County one of the most influential groups is the Bar Association. The lawyers of the local Bar practice their trade in front of elected judges every day - and they form an opinion. Every 2 years, the local bar surveys its members in an attempt to rate every sitting judge.
How highly is Judge Sandoval rated by those lawyers who work in his court? Not very high.
This year, Sandoval received the overall lowest rating of any local judge. If this Bar Poll is any indication, the judge will soon need to find another line of work. However, the Bar Poll is not an infallible indicator of re-electability. A good example of the poll missing its mark would be the 2005 primary in which 2 judges (John Barry and Jerry Lewis) won re-election despite dismal Bar Poll ratings.
The Bar Survey asked a series of questions to which the respondents would rate the judges as "Excellent", "Acceptable" or "Needs Improvement".
One key question asked, "Is this judge impartial?" Only 12% of the lawyers rated Sandoval as "Excellent", while 46% believe he "Needs Improvement". Judge Dan Wilson was rated the highest, with 78% rating him as "Excellent".
In "How would you describe this judge's overall performance?" Sandoval again earned the lowest "Excellent" rating at only 12%. Judge Henderson was highest ranked at 80% "Excellent".
Highest and lowest Excellent ratings were:
Question Highest Lowest Is this judge hard working? Judge Henderson-96% Judge Sandoval-17% Does this judge issue timely opinions? Judge Henderson-84% Judge Lewis-28% Is this judge available during normal business hours? Judge Henderson-87% Judge Sandoval-19% Is this judge impartial? Judge Wilson-78% Judge Sandoval-12% Does this judge ignore irrelevant considerations such as race, gender,
politics, or identity or residence of the lawyers?
Judge Henderson-84% Probate Judge Copeland-84% Judge Sandoval-18% Does this judge ignore irrelevant considerations such as race, gender,
politics, or identity or residence of the parties?
Probate Judge Copeland-84% Judge Sandoval-18% Are the judge's rulings consistent across cases? Probate Judge Copeland-81% Judge Sandoval-10% Does this judge ensure that any court specific rules, procedures, or
requirements are available to anyone who appears before the court?
Judge Henderson-88% Judge Sandoval-17% Does this judge correctly apply the law? Judge Henderson-73% Judge Sandoval-14% Does this judge display the ability to comprehend legal concepts? Judge Henderson-84% Judge Sandoval-27% Does this judge display the ability to analytically reach decisions? Judge Henderson-84% Judge Sandoval-24% Does this judge display proper judicial temperament and demeanor? Judge Henderson-84% Judge Sandoval-27% Does this judge treat lawyers appearing before the court with courtesy
Judge Wilson-88% Judge Sandoval-31% Does this judge treat parties appearing before the court with courtesy
Judge Wilson-90% Judge Sandoval-33% Judge Lewis-33% How would you describe this judge's overall performance? Judge Henderson-80% Judge Sandoval-12%
apply the law. He is arrogant and has
a lack of respect for the lawyers and
citizens of Collin County.
A portion of my divorce decree is on
appeal due to the error in his ruling
pertaining to stock options.
My worry is that when my ex-spouse files
for modification in child support I
will not stand a chance in the 380th
due to my appeal and Sandoval's
Let's all vote in the primary for
Suzanne Wooten and support her campaign.
to the following address.
Suzanne H. Wooten for Judge Campaign
c/o Alma Benavides, Treasurer
200 W. Virginia Street
McKinney, TX 75069
Yard signs are available by calling the
Campaign Headquarters. The number is
Please vote in the primary March 4th.
So I disagree with the Bar and I will encourage all single mom's out there and anyone to vote for Judge Sandoval.
I am happy to know that you received custody of your child. You must have caught Sandoval
on a day that the wind was blowing in the direction in which he wanted it. Or maybe,
your lawyer is one of the good old boys/gals on the judges "A" list.
Some of us have not been that lucky!
I think that you misunderstood the problem that I have experienced with Judge Sandoval. Please let me clarify, I did not lose custody of my son. I am the custodial parent.
My problem pertains to division of stock options. I have a Mediated Settlement Agreement that was deemed meaningless by Judge Sandoval in his ruling against me. In other words, he screwed me out money that was clearly mine.
My money problem is far less important than custody and the well being of children.
I dont think you need to worry about going back to the Judge about your child support. He will rule according to the guidlines and what is best for your child. Whatever happen on the appeal will not effect your child support.
Good Luck to you!
Please explain why you believe that Sandoval is unstable and angry.
I have deleted all comments that involved one specific case. The discussion was loosing it's civility.
There is no reason to personally attack the incumbent, the challenger or other posters.
In an attempt to be fair, I am reposting a portion of the original post.
I trust Suzanne Wooten like a two headed Snake!
I retained her for services in a divorce case and she lied to me costing me an extra $20,000 plus other losses in the case. I initiated a bar fee dispute against her and she even refuse to participate in a fee dispute. I am currently in the process in filing a greivance against her.
While we are at it, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you publishing this "newspaper". You are doing Collin County a real service as the traditional papers tend to just be mouthpieces for the status quo.
I am a doctorate level licensed professional. This case is being reported anonymously to protect the identity of my son from public eye. The events reported below are factual with recorded evidence and/or are supported by court record.
A few short years ago as a single mother, I came forward to beseech the intervention of the 380th Court, Judge Charles Sandoval Presiding, to prevent my ex-husband from his witnessed and repeated history of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and driving with our minor child in the car. Now this was expected to be a simple, straightforward, uncomplicated case. Private Investigator report had indicated that the father had consumed several refills where wine was dispensed, that he had smelled of alcohol on his breath and on his person, and (per in-court licensed private investigator testimony) that he had almost caused an automobile collision while driving after consuming wine. When my attorney asked for the written report to be entered into the record so that the PI could read it in, Judge Sandoval denied the request. Therefore, the full report was not entered.
Now, my ex-husband, who is of professional stature, had filed a last minute counter motion Pro Se to modify a previous decree which had given me uncontested sole custody of our son. It also had become clear that my ex-husband had manipulated our son into fearing that his father might have to go to jail as a result of this case. Specifically, I gave testimony to this fact in court, telling Judge Sandoval that our son (at that time being over age 12 years old) would return from his father’s house and tell me, ‘ “Mom, drop the law suit, or I’ll sign an affidavit and go live with Dad,” ’ and that my ex had told me that if I exposed this issue, he would turn our son against me. Never in a million years did I ever think that my petition for our son’s safety would pose such a risk, given the evidence of his father’s observed endangerment.
This was a simple case that should have taken a minimum amount of the court’s time and docket space, however I experienced it to lead to a long fiasco of damage and destruction to our son. Judge Sandoval appeared to ignore all testimony from the Mother’s side, all requests for counseling to allay my son’s stress in the matter, and the entered Social Study report conducted by a female Judge which concluded that the child’s residence should not be changed from the established one of the Mother. Despite the fact that my ex-husband failed to show evidence of negative maternal impact nor material and substantial change of circumstances in the maternal home regarding our son1, Judge Sandoval, appearing to ignore all concerns that initiated this case, granted my ex-husband’s request to acquire primary residence. It is my observation that this outcome opened the door to disaster for our son, including blatant teenage alcoholism, academic disaster, parental alienation of his Mother by the father, and utter chaos in this child’s life as evidenced by subsequently required motions following this case. Immediately after this case our teenage son who had previously had good grades and satisfactory behavior, began to fail several school core courses and had reportedly begun to drink profound amounts of alcohol [after his father had reportedly begun to consume alcohol with our teenage son (per his own subsequently confirmed court testimony) as a male bonding ritual].
Furthermore, the new order, apparently creatively written by my ex and not signed by me because it ordered me to pay child support to my ex-husband until our child was to reach the age of 25 years old, was for some reason signed by Judge Sandoval, perhaps apparently without review of the document. Wouldn’t a judge prefer to review a document written by a man who was not an attorney and was Pro Se? Therefore I, as a struggling graduate student living partly on school loans at the time, was now paying child support to a man who I understood to make three times my income.
At least four additional court docket appointments were made to try to rectify the damage that had apparently been done, to no avail. In such subsequent hearings I informed Judge Charles Sandoval that things had gotten so bad that my son was about to fail high school if he were not returned home. I also showed the court a stack of citizen petitions requesting his return to the supervision of his Mother’s original primary residence. The judge apparently ignored these pleadings, and as feared, my son failed high school and became depressed. I told the judge that my ex had threatened to turn our son against me – the judge ignored these pleas and I became alienated from him. Despite the Social Study and other citizen’s recommendations for our child to receive counseling, it took several docket appointments to even get that request revisited among the other issues.
The last event involved an additional, recent Private Investigator report, showing the father consuming more than five (5) alcoholic beverages and immediately driving with three (3) minors, including our son, in his vehicle following his acquisition of primary residence. This report did gain entry into the court record, because it had been attached to the actual petition. I managed to scrape together all the money that I could, to get the private investigator flown back into town to testify and told the court that I had no more funds to have the PI flown back for a second time, in the event of postponement. Nevertheless, for some reason, Judge Sandoval postponed this testimony, resetting the date for later, allowing a corporate case to proceed whose attorney had spoken up, introducing it as a case involving large sums of money. This was the last of my attempts to resolve anything in the 380th court.
Currently on my own, I am working more than 85 hours per week as a single parent to provide the financial means to restore my son’s situation following the events in this court and have recently regained the bond we once had.
Why did this happen? I don’t know, but I do know that if Judge Charles Sandoval lacks discernment for a simple civil case such as the one above that could have been resolved in one hearing with a simple order for the child’s safety and security, how could this judge be able to exercise accurate discernment and decision-making for the more serious criminal and drug related conditions in our society?
1 Statute 156.101 et. seq.
This mother got custody and child support! This case was tried within the last 6 months.
"I trust Suzanne Wooten like a
two headed Snake!
I retained her for services in a
divorce case and she lied to me costing
me an extra $20,000 plus other losses
in the case. I initiated a bar fee
dispute against her and she even refuse to
participate in a fee dispute. I am
currently in the process in filing a
greivance against her. Not sure to
to believe me? Look up Fee Dispute
My case invovled a custody battle with
the other spouce a proven meth abuser
It still cost about $60K."
I told one writer I would get back to her with her accusation of my figures being wrong. $60K was the total loss which included failure to get a financial judgement. This figure didn't even account for Suzanne not being able to get child support awarded. The $20K was the amount she charged over our agreed roadmap costs. The overage was due to Wooten not following the roadmap as agreed. Suzanne Wooten could have admitted to this mistake but instead she lied about it and claimed it was our roadmap to begin with. For a lawyer to empty a families life savings and leave no money for the children and then lie about it is despicable. To the person who wanted Suzanne as Judge I beg you to reconsider, she is not the right person for the job.
I am truly sorry that a few of the readers may be offended in what I have to say but I feel I have to let you know the truth about my experience with the judicial contendor against Judge Sandaval. I am just an individual of Collin County and I have nothing to benefit by posting this information. If anyone is interested in the Bar Fee dispute papers to verify my claims, just let me know.
Please do not attack me or make false assumptions in requards to this posting. Let's accept our differences and be civilized.
Have a great day.
380th Judicial District
Collin County, Texas
First off please let me say: We do not feel like we have been singled out, we feel that Judge Sandoval is not upholding the law and does not allow both parties the equal right to defend themselves. Following the explanation of our situation we have documented what we have personally witnessed in this courtroom and even been advised of a forum where someone else had witnessed his wrath in the courtroom. We have attached that link and documentation. Thank you for considering the exposure of this “Unlawful Judge” and the antics going on in his courtroom!
"S" has two precious twin 4 year old daughters that we love dearly! (age at the time this started...)
• Judge Sandoval ruled that all visitation/possession with "S" (non custodial parent), who lives in Northwestern Oklahoma and his children, who live in Collin County, Texas must be exercised within the boundaries of the State of Texas for what reason we do not know…."S" has lived in Oklahoma since before the Final Divorce and Decree was ever signed. No restrictions of any kind have ever been on "S" or his visitation/possession with his daughters. - THIS WAS NOT EVEN IN THE PLEADINGS TO BE CHANGED. By doing this "S" and the girls extended family have been stripped of their rightful monthly visitation with the girls during the designated holidays and extended summer periods which equals over 50% of his allotted time. "S" can not take off work every time he has an extended holiday or for his 42 days of possession he was granted during the summer to exercise this in the State of Texas. This is clearly not in the children’s best interests. The girls are already asking to come to Oklahoma and we have put them off by just saying we are staying, TX for the weekend. (Which is where "S" was raised and lived until 2004 and "S" family currently resides). They are missing their toys, animals, friends and their extended family and want to come to their Oklahoma home but we can’t take them out of Texas! - FOR NO GIVEN REASON!
• Judge Sandoval took "S" right to exercise his visitation/possession every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend of the month from him and gave him only one weekend per month. Per the Texas State Statues this is "S" option and he has exercised the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekend from day one and has NEVER given any notice to elect the one weekend per month.
TEXAS STATUTE FAMILY CODE 153.313 READS:
§ 153.313. PARENTS WHO RESIDE OVER 100 MILES APART. If the possessory conservator resides more than 100 miles from the
residence of the child, the possessory conservator shall have the
right to possession of the child as follows:
(1) either regular weekend possession beginning on the
first, third, and fifth Friday as provided under the terms applicable to parents who reside 100 miles or less apart or not more than one weekend per month of the possessory conservator's choice beginning at 6 p.m. on the day school recesses for the weekend and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after the weekend,
provided that the possessory conservator gives the managing conservator 14 days' written or telephonic notice preceding a designated weekend, and provided that the possessory conservator elects an option for this alternative period of possession by written notice given to the managing conservator within 90 days after the parties begin to reside more than 100 miles apart, as applicable;
• Judge Sandoval overruled a modification request for "S" to carry the health insurance coverage on the children. It is provided FREE of charge to "S" through his employer and is superior coverage to that of his ex-wife’s individual plan. The children’s current medical providers are listed as preferred providers so they could continue with the same doctors. The ex-wife nor her attorney entered any evidence with the court, opposing the insurance, nor was there any testimony by the ex-wife controverting any of "S" testimony or exhibits regarding the insurance coverage. Judge Sandoval denied the modification. Therefore, "S" continues to reimburse his ex-wife $188.20 in medical premiums as she uses "S" Insurance over hers. TEXAS STATUTES FAMILY CODE 154.182 READS:
§ 154.182. HEALTH INSURANCE. (a) The court shall
consider the cost and quality of health insurance coverage
available to the parties and shall give priority to health
insurance coverage available through the employment of one of the
(b) In determining the manner in which health insurance for
the child is to be ordered, the court shall render its order in
accordance with the following priorities, unless a party shows good
cause why a particular order would not be in the best interest of
(1) if health insurance is available for the child
through the obligor's employment or membership in a union, trade
association, or other organization at reasonable cost to the
obligor, the court shall order the obligor to include the child in
the obligor's health insurance;
• Judge Sandoval approved the Modification Request by "S" for Standard Expanded Visitation, which allowed him to pick the girls up from school versus waiting until 6:00 pm and then took it away in the Motion for Reconsideration Trial and again included the condition of all visitation be exercised in Texas. It was pointed out to Judge Sandoval that "S" residence is only 30 miles from the Texas State Line – He is only 30 miles from being able to take his daughters to their home in Oklahoma due to the restriction, but this information made no difference to Judge Sandoval.
• He awarded $1,827.16 in medical bills and $4,600.00 in attorney’s fees to ex-wife and ex-wife could not even show any kind of proof she had ever even provided the bills to "S". In fact, she admitted in court during the hearing that she had no proof she had ever provided these bills to "S" for reimbursement. Of those bills she was awarded:
o Bills that "S" never received at all, some for as small as $5.00.
o Notation of bills on a spreadsheet ex-wife typed up, but no documentation or backup to support the charges. Backup was requested from ex-wife but never provided.
o Bills we had requested additional information on from ex-wife due to Dr.’s Office did not have the charges in their billing system and she was seeking reimbursement for and the girls accounts showed credit balances. No information was ever received after requested from ex-wife.
o A hospital bill we had already paid $200.00 directly to the provider on and had cancelled checks to show we had paid it but Judge Sandoval awarded her the entire amount. Refused to look at our cancelled checks.
o A hospital bill that according to the Divorce Decree, if ex-wife chooses to go out of the insurance network for services. She is 100% responsible for the bill unless it is an emergency – She did go out of network, it was a non-emergency and Judge Sandoval overrode the Divorce Decree and gave her this judgment.
o Judge Sandoval gave her a judgment for us to pay money that the insurance company has paid to the provider – We had explanation of benefit’s from the insurance company (which we received from ex-wife) to prove this but refused to look at them and took ex-wife’s figures above the insurance companies explanation of benefits which showed the true patient liability.
o Judge Sandoval gave her a judgment on a bill the physician’s office is still trying to get straight with the insurance company, the patient liability still in unknown. Judge Sandoval took the ex-wife’s figure on that one also. The patient liability is still unknown to this day.
The first time we appeared in Judge Sandoval’s Court was on May 8, 2006. This was a temporary hearing on our Motion To Modify Parent-Child Relationship to Expanded Standard Possession and to Modify the current Orders to allow "S" to be able to carry the girls insurance. We ended up having to use his chambers for the hearing because Judge Sandoval was in the middle of another case where an attorney was trying to get him removed from their case for talking to opposing counsel regarding an issue without the other side of counsel being present. He even had to leave our hearing being held in his chambers to go back on the stand in the courtroom for more questioning. Judge Sandoval then came back to finish our temporary hearing in his chambers, after he was released from the stand. We requested the transcription for the temporary hearing date but according to the court house it can not be found – It is Missing – How Convenient. This was the only time we had anything in our favor.
We then appeared on July 31st for several hours of testimony. Which turned out to be an absolute nightmare – Because, not only was the ex-wife awarded the frivolous bills and attorney’s fees. But most of all, "S" visitation was restricted to Texas.
We filed a Motion for Reconsideration on 8-29-06, hoping Judge Sandoval would realize what he had ordered and reverse at least some of his rulings. The money was bad but our hope was that he would change the restriction on visitation within the State of Texas because time can not be replaced like money can.
We found out on Thursday, August 31st that we had to be in court on Tuesday, September 5, 2006. Upon arriving that day for court it was then postponed until Wednesday, September 6, 2006. We didn’t think things could get much worse…BUT WE WERE WRONG!
Judge Sandoval denied the entire Motion for Reconsideration and signed ex-wife’s attorney’s rendition of the July 31st hearing. By signing this attorney’s rendition of the hearing Judge Sandoval took away "S" 1st, 3rd and 5th weekend every month for visitation/possession and only gave him 1 weekend a month. THINGS GOT WORSE!
This is currently in the cival court of appeals. The case was reviewed on January 15, 2008 and we are now waiting the opinion to be issued. Hopefully justice will then be served. However, lost time between "S" and his daughters can never be replaced.
This is just a short recap of what has happened since this started in December 2005 (just weeks after "S" were married).
"S" paid out to his ex-wife in 2005 alone (this does not include child support):
$2,904.57 to cover his 50% of the girls medical charges not paid by insurance
$2,486.00 in insurance premiums because he is responsible for 100% if their premiums
Ex-wife’s original suit in December of 2005 was for $1,097.19, of course this was picked apart because we have learned to keep very detailed records. So she dropped some bills off and added more that she didn’t have on there previously and filed an Amended Motion one week before the temporary hearing in May. If "S" has already paid out $5,390.57 in 2005 (not including his child support) to his ex-wife what would another thousand be? She is a women scorn and just trying to get at him any way she can – Especially using the kids!
IT ISN’T FAIR THAT ONE PERSON CAN TAKE AWAY THE RIGHTS OF A FATHER
AND THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN
THAT WANT TO SEE AND SPEND TIME WITH EACH OTHER!
There are so many dead beat parents out there who could care less about seeing their kids or supporting them. So when one is willing to drive over 700 miles roundtrip every 1st, 3rd and 5th weekend to see his precious little sweethearts, pays his child and medical support and one judge who isn’t following the Texas State Statutes has the authority to just throw this relationship of a parent and children out the window! How is that Justice? It isn’t his fuel or time that drives 700 miles in a weekend or anyone else’s for that matter – WHY TAKE IT AWAY – FOR WHAT REASON!
WHO PROTECTS THE INNOCENT CHILDREN IN A CASE LIKE THIS?
WHAT ABOUT THE TIME THAT WILL BE LOST BETWEEN "S" AND THE GIRLS
IN ALL THE YEARS TO COME
BECAUSE OF ONE JUDGE’S FOOLISH DECISION TO SHOW HIS AUTHORITY!
HOW MAY OTHER FAMILIES
HAVE BEEN DEALT THE WRATH OF JUDGE SANDOVAL AND HOW MANY PARENTS
AND CHILDREN ARE SUFFERING BECAUSE OF HIS WRATH?
HOW MANY HAVE NOT SPOKEN OUT
OR HAD THE BACKING TO BE ABLE TO APPEAL HIS DECISIONS AND JUST HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE DECISION HE MADE?
Thank you for reading through our situation with Judge Sandoval. We previously told you about observing other situations in his courtroom on September 5, 2006. Please see below:
Case #1 = The parental rights were being taken away from a father. The grandfather of the child was stepping in to assume the position as caretaker in the fathers place. There was an attorney for the grandparents, an attorney who was present on behalf of the child and a social worker that had completed home case studies showing that this was in the best interests of the child. Obviously, on what was being said in the court this was in the best interest of the child.
Case #2 = The parental rights were being taken away from a father. A small framed, well endowed women walked in before the court. She was pro se (no attorney). She was asking that the rights of her child’s father be taken away. She presented a document the father allegedly had signed giving up his rights. There were no attorney’s present for either the mother or the child. No home case studies were presented to the court and she admitted she was going to be the only caregiver for the child. The judge granted her the request and the father no longer had any rights.
What about the child in this case?
Our attorney sitting with us was in absolute aw could not believe what had just transpired.
My husband and I watched the numbers come in last night in Collin County via the internet. We are thrilled at the "guts" of Suzanne H. Wooten to take on that challenge. We know we will probably be back in court someday and hope to get a FAIR trial this time.
It is our hopes that Judge Sandoval has ruined or damaged his last parent/child relationship.
Hoping for Change!
Our family were also victims of Judge Sandoval, and it seems there were many others too. All along, we believed we were the only sufferers of his offensive behavior and undeserved punishment. Its comforting to know, that there are others whom he was unfair and biased too. At the same time, it is disappointing.
Hopefully, Mrs. Wooten realizes with every decision she makes in her court room will affect not only the people in her presence, but the children, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends of those families.
Some of these complaints above may need to be made to the State Bar
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