On May 17, a Williamson County judge granted a motion for new trial in In the Interest of Henry, a Child. Earlier this year Melinda Henry had filed an "Original Petition in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship" alleging that 44th District Court Judge Carlos Cortez of Dallas is obligated to pay child support for her son. But Cortez alleged in an April 7 trial brief that he voluntarily agreed to genetic testing to determine his “paternal status” and the test results stated that “there was a zero-percent probability of a genetic relationship between the alleged father and child.” At an April 7 hearing, Judge Tim Wright of Williamson County Court-at-Law No. 2 ruled as a matter of law that Cortez was not the father of Henry’s child. Wright found that Texas Family Code §166.607 sets a time limit of four years to bring a proceeding to determine the parentage of a child who has a presumed father and that the child’s 4th birthday already had passed when Henry filed the suit seeking child support. Henry filed a motion for new trial on May 4 alleging that the court erred in its decision because §166.607 states that a proceeding to disprove a father-child relationship “may be maintained at any time” if the court determines that the presumed father, Henry’s husband, and the “mother of the child did not live together or engage in sexual intercourse with each other during the probable time of conception. . . . The Court did not allow Movant to put on evidence regarding the impossibility of the presumed father being the biological father nor did the Court allow Movant to testify. No evidence supports the Court’s ruling,” Henry alleged in her motion for new trial. Cortez did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Neither did his attorney, Laurie Nowlin, a partner in Round Rock’s Akins, Nowlin & Prewitt. In his May 17 response in opposition to the motion for new trial, Cortez argued that Henry’s motion “contains evidence that was not introduced through pleading or through testimony.” Henry’s lawyer, Round Rock solo Teresa Duffin, says the new trial hopefully will result in Cortez taking another paternity test. Henry made a sworn statement (currently filed under seal) in a defamation suit Cortez had filed against a Dallas lawyer in Judge Carlos Cortez v. Coyt Randal “Randy” Johnston, which has since been nonsuited. ALM Media, Texas Lawyer’s parent company, has retained counsel to argue that Cortez’s deposition and Henry’s statement, among other things, should not be sealed.
-- John Council