Salazar Law Legal Articles
Section A, Page 13
Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2000
Hispanics protest order that mother speak English
Hispanic leaders on Monday demanded a judge rescind an order
that requires a woman to speak English to her child and apologize
for issuing it.
State Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, said state District Judge
Lisa Millard’s order violated First Amendment free speech
rights by ordering Natalia Gonzalez to speak English to her
6-year-old daughter Carolina at home.
This type of “action by Judge Millard is frequently
reserved for the kinds of countries that don’t have
a democracy. I think an apology is in order,” Noriega
Noriega was among the Hispanic leaders who criticized Millard’s
ruling at a news conference held outside the Family Court
Joel Salazar, president of the Mexican American Bar Association
of Houston, said Millard revealed a bias against Hispanics
and the idea that a bilingual education is as good as an education
received primarily in English.
Would this judge would order a redneck to speak proper English?”
The court, we believe, was abusing its discretion,”
Millard has come under fire after it was reported last week
that she issued the order in spring 1999 following testimony
from Carolina’s teacher that the child would continue
to fall behind unless her parents spoke English to her at
home. Her parents signed off on Millard’s order, and
her father, Ramon Gonzalez, continues to support it.
Carolina’s parents are entangled in a custody battle
in Millard’s family law court.
Natalia Gonzalez has asked that Millard be recused because,
the mother’s lawyers say, the judge has demonstrated
bias by requiring English be spoken in the home and failing
to let the mother’s witnesses testify on her behalf
at a May hearing.
State District Judge Fred Edwards of Montgomery County is
expected to rule this week on the motion to recuse Millard.
At the hearing in May, Millard made changes in who has custody
of Carolina and extended the order banning Spanish at home.
Ramon Gonzalez’s lawyer, Tom Conner, said he put in
the extension of the no-Spanish requirement when he and Natalia
Gonzalez’s lawyer drew up the agreed-on order for Millard
Conner said court-appointed investigators were to have interviewed
Carolina and other family members in the coming months before
Millard decides on permanent custody arrangements. Conner
said he sought to force the parents to talk English to Carolina
so they wouldn’t speak to her in Spanish and tell her
what to say when English-speaking investigators came.
Natalia Gonzalez’s lawyers didn’t oppose the ban
on Spanish in the home in spring 1999 or May, Conner said.
Natalia Gonzalez has disappeared with the child, and she may
have fled country, Conner said.
Section A, Page 21
Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2002
No-Spanish order punctures First Amendment
Of all legal tangles, child custody cases are among the most
complicated, emotional and difficult to devine.
The case of Natalia Gonzalez, her former husband, Ramon Gonzalez,
and their daughter, Carolina, seems a textbook example of
all of those descriptions.
At the heart of the case is a disturbing order issued by the
state District Judge Lisa Millard in April 1999 that Natalia
Gonzalez should not be allowed to speak Spanish in the presence
of her daughter.
Teachers for the child had told the parents that she would
do better in school if her English improved. Attorneys in
the case say the Gonzalezes signed off on the judge’s
order, this even though there is research to refute the belief
that eliminating the child’s first language would help
her in school.
Now attorneys for the mother are asking to have the judge
recused from the case on the grounds that the no-Spanish ruling
shows a disregard for the First Amendment and bias on the
part of Millard.
It gets even more complex. Natalia Gonzalez was to have turned
Carolina over to her former husband’s family Aug. 6,
but didn’t do so and appears to have left the area with
Attorney Richard Orsinger, who represents the woman, has argued
further that Millard revealed bias when she threatened to
put the child in a foster home if the parents didn’t
work out a temporary custody arrangement. With this threat
hanging over her, the mother signed off on the custody arrangement
and the provision that she not speak Spanish to the child
at home, Orsinger said.
Ramon Gonzalez’s lawyers argued Natalia Gonzalez is
raising this issue as a ploy because his former wife is upset
the judge took primary custody from her.
Another judge will decide whether Millard should indeed be
However it all turns out, there is merit to the First Amendment
portion of Orsinger’s argument, which is also being
made by Latino community groups. We skirt dangerously close
to losing a basic, right when we allow a judge, for whatever
noble purpose, to dictate what we can say and how we can say
it, even in our own homes.
The fact that the weight of judicial authority could have
played a role in pressuring either or both of the Gonzalezes
into signing away their free-speech rights ought to be al
the more disturbing to all of us.
We understand that Millard had difficult and complex circumstances
with which to deal. The no-Spanish order was issued, say attorneys,
“mostly to prevent the child from being improperly influenced
by either parent” during supervised visitations by non-Spanish
Sounds as if the court needs to hire more bilingual personnel.
Meanwhile, Judge Millard may want to think it all, for amid
all the confusion one thing remains certain: With regard to
the freedom of speech – in any language – the
Constitution is in pretty plain English.
Section A, Page 21
Friday, Jan. 30,1998
Man arrested by mistake had same license number as
By Jerry Urban
A Houston man was released from a Northeast Texas jail Thursday
after being mistakenly accused of a Chicago-area aggravated
sexual assault of a child.
Othon Alfredo Diaz, 37, was arrested last Friday after Athens
police stopped him for a traffic violation.
He was then held in the Henderson County Jail in the sexual
assault case because he had the same birthday, Texas driver’s
license number and Social Security number as Jose Alfredo
Dias, the actual suspect, said Joel E. Salazar, the attorney
representing the Houston man.
Dias was released after officials confirmed his fingerprints
were not those of their suspect. But it’s uncertain
how the suspect came to have the same Social Security and
driver’s license numbers as Diaz, said Salazar.
Salazar said no lawsuit is expected to be filed against Athens
police, because the men had “sufficient similarities”
to cause confusion. Salazar added the Diaz family is not “litigation-oriented,
and they’re not trying to take advantage of the situation.”
Diaz, who works at a Houston grocery store, was in the Athens
area to buy a vehicle when stopped by officers.
The suspect remains at large.
Saturday, Oct. 24, 1998
Hispanic groups want another grand jury to look at
By Carlos Byars
Officials of two Hispanic law groups and the league of United
Latin American Citizens called Friday for District attorney
John B. Holmes Jr. to conduct a second grand jury investigation
into the shooting death of Pedro Oregon Navarro.
They said the first jury’s failure to indict the six
Houston officers involved on felony charges was a whitewash
and that Holmes should recommend indictments to another panel.
Oregon was shot 12 times in July when the six officers raided
his apartment looking for drugs.
One was indicted on charges of misdemeanor criminal trespassing.
The other five were nobilled. Holmes has said he never asks
grand jurors to indict police officers involved in shooting
but leaves that decision to them.
He has also said he has no intend to present the case to another
“My complaints are with the way it was presented to
the grand jury,” LULAC national president Rick Dovilana
said. “The key is for district attorney to make a recommendation.”
Antonio Balderas Jr., president of the Mexican American Bar
Association (MABA) of Houston, said that if one officer committed
criminal trespass, everything that happened afterward was
illegal. AT the very least, he said, there should have been
an indictment for criminal negligent homicide.
Balderas also said that if the public does not know if the
public does not know all the evidence – as Holmes has
said – and that evidence should be made public.
Joel Salazar, vice president of the bar association, said
that when a case is presented to a grand jury without the
district attorney’s recommendation, the jury does not
regard the case as seriously as it should.