Interviewer: Can you tell me about one of your favorite cases?
Gary Churak: I’ve had so many of them and a lot of them run the same situation. I’ve had situations where the man was basically beat up by the girl and he was arrested. There have been situations where in domestic issues, divorces and child custody and paternity actions where all of a sudden, allegations of domestic violence cases pop up. It’s ridiculous. I had a case I can remember and it actually started in a child-custody situation where I actually was hired initially for a family-law issue and she filed a protective order against him.
We went to trial on a protective order and the judge heard the evidence on the protective order and not only denied the protective order but under the family code could award possession and access to the children.
He denied her the protective order and gave him possession of the children and ordered her to pay him child support. Then of course, 2 or 3 months later the DA picks up the case and files the family violence case against him. Now we’re going to court on a family-violence case where I’ve actually had the same evidence presented in a protective-order case and denied, which is even a lesser burden.
I’m trying to explain this to the DA and they’re just looking dumbfounded at me, not understanding what I’m telling them. Of course, he was found not guilty, and that case was memorable. That one stood out.
Interviewer: I remember you telling me that you handle cases throughout a wide area?
Gary Churak: Actually, we work from probably Austin to down south, to Karn City, Atascosa County, Frio County, out west towards Uvalde, Kerrville Junction area up to Blanco, Guadalupe County, and Carmel County. We take cases that are within a couple of hours of the office.
Interviewer: Regarding domestic violence, is there anything that I didn’t cover or anything that you’d like to add?
Gary Churak: No, I think we pretty much covered about everything in that thing. It is a very serious case and I think people don’t realize how serious it can be in their life. If there’s allegations of domestic violence you, hire a good lawyer because you’re going to need a skilled attorney.
Interviewer: Let me ask you, when someone comes and sits down with you during their initial meeting with you, what are the top 3 to 5 concerns?
Gary Churak: “Am I going to go to jail? What’s all involved? Will the DA drop the case if she doesn’t cooperate …? She doesn’t want to prosecute me, what do I need to do?” That’s usually the general questions.
Interviewer: How long can a case potentially last?
Gary Churak: A year to a year and a half sometimes.
Interviewer: Let’s say I’m meeting with you, what will we be discussing?
Gary Churak: The first question I ask them is, “What’s your relationship with the complaining witness?” I mean, “Are you guys back together? Are you talking? Is this a one-time occurrence?” “If you’re married are you talking divorce? Has she moved out of the house? I need to know this information because that’s going to tell me where the case is going to go.
Interviewer: This year alone, how many cases have you had in this year alone?
Gary Churak: This year, maybe 10, 15.
Interviewer: Are you in the middle of any right now?
Gary Churak: I am currently working on a couple.