Should Dori really be chief justice of the 13th District Court of Appeals?

Comfort House conduct raises questions


If my sources are correct, and I believe they are, Judge Dori Contreras is telling people that what I have written about her while she served on the Comfort House Board of directors is not entirely accurate, and besides that, it doesn’t really matter because no one reads The Advance.

Meaning, I’m writing this editorial for no one – because no one reads The Advance – but what the heck, I’ll just write it for my own enjoyment.

Here’s what I know. When Monica Melissa (Palacios) Patterson was murdering Marty Knell in January of 2015, she was working as the executive director of the Comfort House, a McAllen-based hospice. She was also stealing the hospice blind right under the noses of its board of directors. On that board sat her honor, Judge Dori, a San Juan, Texas, native first elected to the 13th in 2002. She is now running for chief justice of the 13th against her Republican opponent, Ernie Aliseda.

Two years ago, Dori ran for the Texas Supreme Court and lost. In 2014, she barely held on to her seat, no pun intended. She has also applied for a federal judge’s position. Don’t call us, we’ll call you?

Judicial positions are odd. Dori can run for the chief justice seat without vacating her own. Meaning, if she loses in two weeks to Aliseda, she will still retain her current seat, Place 6, on the 13th. That might not mean a lot if it weren’t for the fact that the 13th is one of the most overturned appellate courts in the entire state, if not numero uno. It all depends on how far back in time one goes. Judge Rudy Delgado is also running for the 13th (federal indictment for bribery notwithstanding), and so is Nora Longoria (no comment about her drunk-driving arrest, which was dismissed, because I don’t want to get another letter from her attorney).

The main problem I see with Dori’s seat on the Comfort House board, from which she just coincidentally resigned two weeks before the Knell Estate filed a negligence lawsuit against it for failing to run a background check on Patterson before hiring her (her financial problems might have raised a red flag), is the part she played in the Compromise and Settlement Agreement that was signed on Nov. 11, 2015 (coincidentally the murder victim’s birthday) by Omar Guevara, then the Comfort House board president, and Melissa Patterson. The settlement agreement was signed at the Palacios family home.

Contreras was there that night, I believe, but never attached her name to the document that Guevara and Patterson signed. She was, however, I believe, instrumental in getting it drafted by her former legal colleague Ray Thomas. That was before they parted company when both battled one another in the March Democratic Primary for chief justice.

The settlement amount was $70,000, which might not seem bad if the two couldn’t help but know by then that the amount Patterson actually stole from the hospice well exceeded a hundred thousand dollars, much less $70k. By then, of course, Patterson had already been arrested and charged with the Knell murder.

That Nov. 11, 2015 settlement also included a non-disclosure clause, which must have included the Comfort House Board of Directors because apparently the only two board members who knew about the $70k settlement were Guevara and Judge Dori.

Meaning, without board approval, Guevara and Dori drafted a Compromise and Settlement Agreement for $70,000, had Patterson sign it, and let her off the hook for all the other money she had stolen from the Comfort House; and they never informed the other board members of their actions. In fact, one Comfort House board member knew nothing about the settlement until he testified during Patterson’s murder trial.

How’s that for transparency?

I never endorse political candidates; but I know who I’m going to vote for chief justice of the 13th.

Too bad there’s no one who reads The Advance, according to Judge Dori. Some voters might find this op/ed of interest.

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