Texas Association of Family Defense Attorneys
Julia Hatcher - President
Julia C. Hatcher has been practicing law in Galveston, Texas since August 1998. Since then, she has fought on behalf of parents and children who have been caught in the trenches of CPS. Focusing her practice on the reunification of families involved with CPS, she has been a member of the Legal Representation Committee (LRC) of the Texas Supreme Court Children's Commission since October of 2016. In 2018,, the LRC conducted a study of legal representation in child protection cases throughout the State of Texas. The results were, unfortunately, less than stellar. It was then that Julia recognized that there was a need for a statewide organization in Texas that could offer training and tools to its membership so that legal representation of parents and children would improve. Not only does she have the vision to improve legal representation through this Association, but she also has the goal of improving the law through zealous advocacy. Probably Julia's proudest accomplishment was the successful lobbying of the Texas Legislature in 2017, with the help of several parental rights advocacy groups, to create a defense to the O ground for parental termination. Julia also co-authored the Toolkit for Parents' and Children's Attorneys, published by the Texas Children's Commission, which is now available for distribution. Julia has committed herself to effecting change, both in the Courtroom and at the Legislature.
Danna Mayhall - Vice President
Danna Kirk Mayhall, Attorney at Law, has been in private practice for almost 30 years, and practices in Henderson County. Danna mainly practices in the area of Family Law, focusing on cases involving CPS. Shortly after representing her first client in a CPS case and learning the steps a parent must take to achieve family reunification, Danna wrote a Parent's Guide to share with her clients. She recently presented this Guide to the Texas Children's Commission, and it is available as a resource on this website.
Chris Branson - Treasurer/Secretary
Chris Branson is a Houston, Texas based attorney who fights Children’s Protective Services (CPS) in the trenches – and wins. He has a passion for protecting families from false child abuse or neglect allegations, and the trauma caused by needless government intrusion. Branson uses the experience gained in those battles to teach other attorneys throughout the state to carry on the fight. As a lecturer at the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) “Defending the Family from CPS” seminar, he has trained attorneys in Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, and Lubbock. Branson is also THSC’s Special Counsel for CPS issues, advising that organization on specific legal matters regarding CPS, and on pending legislation while the Texas legislature is in session.
Lori Delgado Moore - Director
Lori Delgado Moore started her career as an Assistant District Attorney where she represented the State in both CPS proceedings and criminal prosecutions. In 2018, Moore opened a law firm in Mont Belvieu, Texas. Moore represents clients in a variety of family, civil, and criminal matters, but focuses a large portion of her practice representing clients who CPS has accused of abuse or neglect of their children. Moore currently practices in Brazos County, Waller County, Harris County, Liberty County, and Hardin County.
Jolei Shipley - Director
Jolei Shipley, located in Beaumont,Texas, has been practicing law since 2003. She is board-certified in both Family Law and Child Welfare Law. Representing both parents and children, Jolei is adept at reunifying families, and is well known for her trial advocacy skills. Jolei and one of her minor clients testified during a hearing in the 2019 Legislative session about their experience with CPS. Jolei practices in Jefferson, Hardin, and Orange counties.
Dennis M. Slate - Director
Dennis M. Slate is the managing attorney of the firm Slate and Associates, which has three office locations in Deer Park, Pearland, and the Houston Galleria area. Dennis earned his Board Certification in Family Law in 2014. Dennis was one of the initial 16 members of the Texas Bar to earn certification in the newly created Child Welfare certification, in 2018. Dennis has been practicing family law for over 19 years, and has defended thousands of parents from CPS claims of abuse and neglect over his career. Slate has also held CPS accountable when they wrongfully remove children. In 2018 Slate had CPS sanctioned for over $127,000.00 for lying in a removal affidavit and subsequent court hearing about the reasons CPS removed the children. To date, Slate has earned sanction judgments totaling over $200,000.00 against TDFPS. Of particular interest to Slate in the area of Child Welfare Law, is defending parents from claims of abuse made by Child Abuse Pediatricians (CAPs). Slate was instrumental in getting NBC News and the Houston Chronicle to investigate and report on the “junk science’ that CAPs use to assist CPS with wrongfully removing children. The investigative news series called “Do No Harm” was publish and aired on NBC Nightly news in the Fall of 2019. Slate continues the fight to reform CAPs and CPS by testifying in the legislature and drafting proposed amendments to the Family Code for the 2021 Legislative session.