Lawyers in Houston are scratching their heads over a lavish honeymoon gift registry posted online by Harris County Family Court Judge Alicia Franklin and her fiancé, attorney Doug York.
We're joining in on the head-scratching, especially since the exposure of the site -- which describes the couple's plans to stay in Paris and the Maldives ("for a little r&r") -- comes on the heels of a report finding that Franklin collected $806,005 from the county for her work as a judge-appointed attorney between 2010 and 2014.
Attorney Greg Enos filed a complaint with the Harris County District Attorney's Office over Franklin's billing for the ad litem work. His complaint emphasized four days in May 2014 when, according to Enos, Franklin billed more than 73 hours, which included one day when she allegedly billed for 23.5 hours.
"Any lawyer would immediately know it is not possible to bill those kind of hours in one day, and her pay vouchers for [three of those days] simply cannot be true," Enos alleged.
But even without Franklin rakin' in those public dollars, and even without the allegations, the honeymoon registry seems like a remarkably tone-deaf endeavor for a sitting judge.
It's also kinda icky, as evidenced by the registry's inclusion of "tropical accommodations," which states, "We will stay approximately ten nights in the Maldives and will spend a lot of time in our quarters, and thus we will remember our tropical accommodations for years."
These crazy kids "fell in love quickly," and York proposed to Franklin on Paris's Pont des Arts, "commonly known as the Love Lock Bridge," per the registry.
The site also explains, "The legend of the bridge in simple terms is essentially if you affix a lock with your loved one onto the bridge and throw the key into the river, if the lock isn't unlocked by the key, the couple live happily ever after. Naturally, Doug set the bar high not only proposing in Paris, but he also ordered a lock with Doug and Ali's names and the date of the engagement, of course we affixed our lock to the bridge and threw our key into the Seine."
And now you can help them make their trip even more memorable by kicking in for parasailing, snorkeling, a helicopter tour, champagne, a couples massage, and a facial for the judge, among other gifts.
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At first we thought this might have been a hoax. We reached out to Franklin and York, and have so far heard back from the latter. York faxed us a statement in which he mostly addressed an allegation on the Big Jolly Politics blog that a family law attorney "felt pressured" to contribute to the registry.
York wrote that he and Franklin "are giving this story the courtesy it deserves by completely ignoring it....It is most unfortunate that such a special day would be attacked, especially when the registry was only for close friends and family, as is the case in all weddings. At no time was there solicitation for funds or gifts from anybody. Period, end of story."
York added, "We are not angry, but are very disappointed that such a private happy occasion would get attacked by political underlying reasons. It takes a special person to do something this low. We, however, forgive the person who initiated this process, as our faith is strong, knowing all persons will face God to answer for their actions. We look forward to a wonderful life together, and this untruth will have no effect on such a great occasion."
Thing is, we didn't want to ask York (or Franklin) about a vague allegation that one attorney felt pressured, because the registry seems weird enough on its own. But hey, we wish these lovebirds the best.