DALLAS – For nearly a decade, Judge Andrea Plumlee has presided over the 330th Family District Court in Dallas County. And in that time, the family court judge has racked up quite a few reversals at the appellate level, with justices frequently finding that she has abused her discretion.
One of Judge Plumlee’s earlier corrections came in 2013 in the matter of the marriage of Jesus and Maria Villa.
Judge Plumlee entered a default judgment against Jesus Villa, even though the court record shows the trial court did not notify him of the default judgment hearing.
The Fifth Court of Appeals found that Judge Plumlee entered the default divorce decree in violation of Jesus Villa’s due process rights.
In the case of In re Young, the Fifth Court found Judge Plumlee abused her discretion by ordering genetic testing, even though the statute of limitations for such testing had expired.
When pieced together, Judge Plumlee’s appellate history shows a pattern of her exceeding her authority, according to an opinion issued by the Fifth Court on March 11, 2019. The case was titled In the interest of D.T., a child, where Judge Plumlee ordered the father to pay $1,450 in child support. The Fifth Court reversed because the amount did not appear to be based on either the evidence or on the mother’s request.
Some of Judge Plumlee’s rulings seem to be shaped outside the guidelines of the Texas Family Code.
For example, in the case of In re Foreman, the Fifth Court found Judge Plumlee was required to transfer the case out of her court pursuant to the Texas Family Code.
“The undisputed evidence showed that the children's principal residence on the date the petition was filed and during the six month period preceding the commencement of the suit was Collin County,” states the Fifth Court’s Jan. 9, 2014 opinion. “Under those circumstances, transfer is mandatory…”
Several other instances of Judge Plumlee being reversed on appeal remain on file.
And while the judge has declined to return a request for comment on her past rulings, at least one man had something to say on social media.
On June 22, 2018, Luke Spencer made a Facebook post to the State Bar of Texas page, stating that Judge Plumlee put his wife in jail for protecting her kids.
“Judge Plumlee has made it clear that she is not interested in anything my Wife has to say, and claims that she is a liar as well as the children,” wrote Spencer. “The judge will not allow the children to speak on their own behalf, and has belittled them. I wanted this information to be known by the State Bar of Texas due to the demonstration of the lack of being fair and impartial...”
Life isn’t always fair, every five year old knows that, but fairness and impartiality is something one should expect from any judge, says Langston Adams, a Texas attorney who practices family, criminal and civil law.
“When I go before a family court judge, I expect what I expect from any judge – for them to be fair and follow the law,” Adams said.
Adams says that in his experience he’s found most family court judges to be fair, despite not every case ending in a win.
“You’re not always going to get the result the client wants … but it’s rare when I see a family law case go up on appeal.
Adams, who has been practicing law since 2002, says he’s only had one appeal in a family law case.
“Most of my appeals have stemmed from criminal cases,” he added.
Since 2011, the year Judge Plumlee first started presiding over the 330th, approximately 108 cases out of her court have been appealed.