The Office of the Attorney General of Texas claims a lawsuit against it by a former employee does not qualify under the Whistleblower Act and is asking the Texas Supreme Court to dismiss the case.
The 2009 suit was brought by Ginger Weatherspoon, an assistant attorney general working in the OAG’s Child Support Division. She claims she was terminated because she spoke out against alleged illegal activities in the division.
In her original complaint, Weatherspoon alleges senior attorneys in the Child Support Division confined her against her will and made numerous attempts to “coerce perjured testimony” from her concerning Dallas County 254th District Family Court Judge David Hanschen.
But Weatherspoon refused to sign the affidavit, saying it contained false statements about Judge Hanschen.
She claims she told her supervisor about the incident, but was eventually fired.
She filed a lawsuit under the Texas Whistleblower Act on May 18, 2009, in Dallas County 68th District Court with Judge Martin J. Hoffman presiding.
Critics of attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott say the Weatherspoon incident was part of an organized effort by the OAG to file a judicial misconduct complaint against Hanschen because of past conflicts between Abbott and the judge.
Hanschen, who heard cases involving lawyers from the OAG’s Child Support Division, had clashed with Abbott a few years before when Hanschen was allowing men to take DNA tests during child support disputes, even though there was a legal four-year statute of limitations.
Abbott said that wasn’t legal, and stopped Hanschen from continuing the DNA testing by getting an emergency court order on Feb. 1, 2008.
Hanschen, a Democrat, was first elected to the Dallas County 254th Family Court in 2006. He held that position until he lost the 2010 Democratic primary to James Martin. Martin beat his Republican opponent in the general election by a small margin, and still sits on the bench of the 254th.
After his defeat, Hanschen said negative media reports about him and the DNA testing, especially in the Dallas Morning News, cost him the election.
In 2012, Hanschen ran for a spot on the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals-Place Nine in Dallas and was unopposed in the Democratic primary. He was defeated in the general election by Republican David Lewis.
Hanschen still wasn’t deterred from seeking a judicial position, and ran in the 2014 Democratic primary on March 4 as a candidate for judge of the Dallas County 301st District Court, but was defeated.
Campaigning as a progressive reformer, he took on the OAG once again.
According to his campaign website, “Judge David Hanschen believes child support guidelines promulgated by the Texas Attorney General’s Office and used by the family law courts have become too rigid, and are not used as the guidelines they were intended to be.”
He faced Craig Bonham, Mary Brown, Lawrence Praeger and George White in the primary, with Brown getting the nomination with 64 percent of the votes. Hanschen received 8.7 percent of votes.
Hanschen is a graduate of Southern Methodist University Law School in Dallas.