Former prosecutors John Klassen, Lane Haygood, plaintiff Stephen Warren, and Family Law Specialist Cynthia Clack, the legal team
“The law isn’t what is on the books; the law is what is done in the courtrooms.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Rockwall, TX – When a state district judge signed a temporary order appointing a realtor the receiver of a couple’s luxury home, he took a drastic and irrevocable approach to settling the disposition of community property in a marriage on the rocks – long before a judge and jury settled the case.
Today, 12 years later, Stephen Warren recalls that his lawyer Keith Wheeler told him the move would place his home into a protected status. Far from that, such a maneuver forces real property into a condition of default in which a mortgage holder may foreclose without bothering to seek the assent of a Court.
“Here, all the time, I thought it was something there to protect me, but all along, it was there to take my house,” he recalls. Events soon spiraled out of control following a domestic violence call in July of 2003. The couple had moved in on July 4, less than a month before 382nd District Judge Brett Hall ordered the receivership.
When police responded to a disturbance call, they detected violence in the home perpetrated by his wife, Leslie Warren, who is now remarried and known as Leslie Cavanaugh Bird. They made her leave the home, Stephen Warren filed for a protective order, and was in custody of their three daughters.
When she requested a reconciliation, he agreed, and within only a couple of days, police arrived with an arrest warrant developed on an affidavit she gave alleging he raped her.
He was thus enjoined from returning to his home. As the police car pulled away with him handcuffed in the back seat, he could see moving vans lined up at the curb, waiting to load his possessions and the contents of the home. The memory is etched in stark images, a moment of clarity and horror that still haunts him.
All this took place before the judge and the jury issued a final decree of divorce.
Warren insists that, for one thing, that he is unable to remember clearly what happened due to his trauma and shock. For another, he steadily maintains he was never truly advised of the round of hearings and orders that led to his ouster from his home and its subsequent sale at foreclosure.
He had been released on bail, accused of aggravated sexual assault of his own wife. He was unable to make a living, his reputation under attack, the stress of the situation took an extreme emotional toll.
A typical arrangement is for the judge to order the husband to continue to pay the note payments, insurance premiums, taxes and other fees while the wife and their children live in the residence until the Court makes a final disposition of the community property. Warren swears he never fell behind in his payments. This foreclosure took place in record time. What began as a domestic disturbance in July ended in the judge’s order of sale of the home on November 24.
But there is nothing typical about the property at 4 Morning Circle at the Buffalo Creek Club in Heath, Texas. A project of a limited partnership formed as a “special purpose entity” by a shell company of the Enron Corporation, it was on the market after that outfit declared bankruptcy. Warren built it out and moved in. It didn’t work out because his wife chose to choke him in his sleep over his snoring.
Said Warren’s attorney, Cynthia Clack, “I have not ever in my career of 37 years, 27 of them a board-certified Family Law practitioner, put a house in receivership under the circumstances of this case. It’s a very drastic remedy. Putting the house into receivership is what I think caused this chain of events.”
Though Warren says his memory is faulty, a fact check instigated by an anonymous Facebook personality who calls himself “Davy Crockett,” and later claimed to be Patrick Dowd, the trustee for Conner & Associates, reveals Warren’s recital of the events recorded in the Rockwall County Clerk’s Office to be very accurate.
Dowd obtained a deed of trust conveying the property to Conner & Associates on Judge Hall’s temporary order appointing a local realtor the receiver and ordering Warren to list the property for sale.
The paper trail shows Warren obtained release of lien on his property from various subcontractors, as he claimed in an earlier interview published in these columns. Dowd said in subsequent postings that this is untruthful, that the home was finished rather than sold unfinished when Warren assumed a note and employed subcontractors to finish the house.
Furthermore, Dowd claimed that your correspondent is a “paid hack” on the payroll of Stephen Warren. This is not true.
According to Warren’s attorney, Cynthia Clack, “no one on my legal team, nor Mr. Warren has paid you any money…I have a question to pose to Davy Crockett a/k/a Patrick Dowd. Whose payroll is he on and why does he continue following Mr. Warren’s story twelve years after he foreclosed on Stephen Warren’s house in Rockwall, Texas? Would he be willing to be deposed by one of the members of my legal team?”
In his Facebook remarks, the person calling himself Patrick Dowd and claiming to be the trustee of record for Warren’s former residence at 4 Morning Circle, Buffalo Creek Club, in Heath, furthermore called Warren “stupid,” speculated that his parents were first cousins, and that he lied when he said he bought an unfinished house and invested a quarter million dollars into its completion.
Nevertheless, the public record supports Warren’s veracity in his original recital, as related n an earlier story.
In a hearing held last Friday, October 23, into whether to seal the educational records of Stephen Warren’s children, counsel for his ex-wife Leslie Cavanaugh Bird and her husband, Daryl Bird, objected to going into any matter “not before the Court at this time.”
The motion before the Court is a motion for Contempt of Court citing 121 separate violations of the possession order and final decree of divorce – each of which is potentially punishable by six months in County Jail. Warren has seen his children for a total of six minutes in the past seven and a half years.
In three scheduled supervised visits, he has been denied access to a visit with them.
The attorneys representing the Birds forced Warren’s attorneys to make numerous trips to the Court coordinator’s office to schedule hearings into pleadings pending in the file.
As a result, there is but one hearing pending, on January 8, 2016. All others are awaiting scheduling by Judge Hall’s former secretary, the present Court Coordinator.
“I so wanted to see my kids this Christmas,” said Warren. “I haven’t had a Christmas tree for twelve years.”
According to Lane Haygood, an attorney for Warren, “You don’t have a hearing if you’ve only got one thing to hear…The entire legal file is open to anything the judge would like to hear.”
Said Ms. Clack, in remarks to the Court speaking of the status of a discovery motion filed in June, “We have not received any discovery from the respondent.”
The only records they have received came from the Rockwall Independent School District. The Birds’s attorneys object to the possibility the childrens’ Social Security numbers could be learned and published on the internet.
Mosiman offered into evidence documents generated by the authorities in Rockwall County that suggest they thought Warre was guilty of misconduct toward his wife and daughters. Not only do those documents constitute hearsay; the court sees no way that it could test their veracity or the degree of certainty of their authors. – from a Memorandum Opinion of the Federal Bankruptcy Judge who granted Warren’s suit for protection from his ceditors