Reflection on Dallas PD Assault: Family Court Associate Judges in Texas are Sitting Ducks

The Associated Press
Photo: Associated Press/Ron Jenkins

The Boulware attack on Dallas PD headquarters show us that family court judges without bailiffs are sitting ducks. The man killed in a “zombie apocalypse assault” vehicle after a Dallas Police headquarters assault a week ago had a history of domestic violence and mental illness. He had threatened family court judges who had decided his custody case. Dallas judges are now calling for protection in all of their courtrooms. Unlike the district court judges for whom they serve, associate judges frequently do not have a bailiff.

James Lance Boulware is the man who drove up to Dallas PD headquarters on June 13th in his assault vehicle equipped with gun portholes and sprayed the headquarters with bullets. Breitbart Texas reported about the gunfire and bombs outside the police headquarters.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said his officers were “literally dodging bullets.” He continued, “It raised the hair on the back of your neck, thinking about what could have happened.”

As reported by Breitbart Texas, the Dallas police chief told Dallas Morning News that during the standoff and police chase, Boulware told him that he was going to blow up police because “they took his child and accused him of being a terrorist.”

Terroristic threat is a crime in Texas. Boulware was arrested in Paris, Texas, after he went on a rampage after he physically assaulted his mother and his uncle, and then threatened churches and schools.

Boulware was arrested in April of 2013 for choking his mother. He strangled his uncle “to the point of unconsciousness” after he intervened to pull Boulware’s mother from her son.

Breitbart Texas reported that the affidavit for an arrest warrant showed that the mother, Jeannine Hammond, had to hit her son on the head and back with a laptop computer to try to stop him from strangling his uncle. Boulware grabbed his car keys and left his mother’s home.

On that same day, Boulware’s brother reported that his brother had driven to the house in Paris, Texas, and obtained firearms, ammunition, and body armor. He threatened to attack churches and schools. It was also reported that Boulware said he was going to kill adult family members.

Boulware was taken into custody but the case was dismissed after he fulfilled conditions imposed upon him by a court.

Boulware’s mother told the media at the time of the Dallas PD attack that her son was suffering from mental illness and “heard voices.” She also said, “We’ve been dealing with this for a long time.”

Boulware’s father responded to the incident saying his son had just reached a breaking point as a result of a custody dispute over his son. The senior Boulware said “Every one of us have a breaking point” and his son “looked at the police as taking his son.”

He continued, “Our society can’t keep pushing people… keep taking children away.”

Breitbart Texas’ Lee Stranahan wrote of Boulware’s father, “If there’s a ‘teachable moment’ here, it’s simple common sense: when your supposedly broke son with known mental issues and a violent history shows up with a combat vehicle sporting gun ports on the side, take it as a warning sign. Call the police.” Boulware had been at his father’s home right before the attack on police headquarters.

Although there have been others, there is a “teachable moment” from the Boulware attacks.

Associate family court judges are sitting ducks in Texas when they are not provided with a bailiff.

It took a shooting rampage outside a Dallas associate family court judge’s courtroom in 1993 before metal detectors were placed in Dallas courthouses. A man shot his wife and killed himself there.

In Tarrant County in 1992, a gunman killed a lawyer and an assistant district attorney, and wounded two judges and an assistant district attorney.

As reported by Breibart Texas, Dallas Police Chief Brown said that Boulware had made threats on social media against judges. At the time of the Dallas headquarter assault, Chief Brown said they “have taken steps to ensuring safety of judges who suspect threatened before.”

Texas Lawyer magazine reported that after Boulware’s violent attack, judges in Dallas have demanded that a bailiff be stationed in associate judge courtrooms.

Judge Drew Ten Eyck told Texas Lawyer that after one of his litigants, James Boulware, attacked the Dallas police station, “it’s time for that change.”

Ten Eyck is one of the seven associate judges who work for family district court judges in Dallas County. He has presided over thousands of cases involving angry litigants.

Individuals involved in family court litigation are rarely 100% happy with the result in custody and divorce cases, and many of these cases involve individuals who have committed family violence and sexual violence.

Eyck told Texas Lawyer, “It’s the highest stress point for people in their lives. There are people that are crushed and angry, and some stranger is making a call on who gets to live in their house and whether they get possession of their child.”

Many family judges in Texas decide cases involving families who are not from the United States, and whose culture and laws do not handle custody and divorce cases the same way. These individuals can be very confused and angry about the process in Texas and U.S. family courts, and the decisions made there.

James Boulware sat in the back of Ten Eyck’s courtroom just six months ago and yelled threatening statements to him.  Ten Eyck told Texas Lawyer, “He lit up like a match.” Boulware left the family courtroom slamming the door behind him.

The Dallas County family court judges have signed an order requiring the sheriff’s department to post baliffs in associate judge courtrooms. The order states “the parties, their children, witnesses, lawyers, experts and all citizens who appear in court must be protected in every family courtroom.” The order appears below.

As one who has served as an associate family court judge, and a prosecutor in the state of Texas, this writer knows the dangers associated in making decisions that affect a person’s family or their liberty.

Associate judges in Texas, and the citizens and witnesses who appear in family cases, deserve no less than to have protection in all Texas courtrooms.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served the state of Texas as a prosecutor and an associate family court judge. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2

Bailiffs for Associate Judges


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