Thomas J. Henry is a familiar face to many in San Antonio, with his image appearing regularly on TV ads and billboards. But the personal injury lawyer’s efforts to keep his divorce case under wraps were unsuccessful Monday as a district judge denied his request to keep the proceedings closed to the public.

The multimillionaire attorney’s wife, Azteca Henry, filed for divorce last November, but the road to Monday’s initial hearing has been filled with contention, with numerous accusations contained in court filings from both Henrys, according to a report in the San Antonio Express-News. Jeffrey O. Anderson, the attorney representing Thomas J. Henry, asked the presiding judge in a videoconference hearing to consider keeping the proceedings closed and seal court records. 

“Thomas J. Henry asserts that closing the proceedings is necessary to protect Thomas J. Henry and his businesses’ interests due to the serious and specific allegations against Respondent and her purported illegal conduct,” a motion filed by Anderson stated. “Respondent asserts that any open proceedings in this cause will result in a serious and imminent damage to Thomas J. Henry, Thomas J. Henry’s personal and professional reputations, and to Thomas J. Henry’s business entities.”

Judge Cynthia Marie Chapa of the 288th Civil District Court presided over the initial hearing for the Henrys’ divorce proceedings on Monday. She denied Thomas J. Henry’s request to keep proceedings closed but left the door open to reconsidering the request later.

“I don’t think I have enough to close proceedings today, so these proceedings will not be closed,” Chapa said. “However, my inclination is to keep your motion to seal and your motion to disqualify under advisement because it seems to me that we need to do the depositions before we hear all of this stuff.”

Anderson requested court records to be sealed and a confidentiality order on behalf of Thomas J. Henry. He also filed a motion to disqualify Azteca Henry’s legal counsel. He claimed that Langley & Banack attorney Jo Chris Lopez had certain “privileged” information provided by her client, and that the law firm was a direct competitor to Henry’s law practice, so Langley & Banack should not have access to that information. Lopez disagreed.

“We have offered Miss Henry’s deposition,” Lopez said. “We offered to take Mr. Henry’s deposition so that we could discern what exactly are the allegations that he is making. Those requests were ignored. There was no follow-up. And so for him now to suggest that somehow this motion to disqualify should be put off so that he can develop his evidence is improper.”

On Monday, Anderson also requested two separate trials – the first dealing with the matter of whether a marriage existed between Thomas J. Henry and Azteca Henry. A subsequent trial would determine how to proceed if the marriage was found to be valid, Anderson said.

Anderson claimed the two are not legally married. “There’s no marriage,” he said.

Thomas J. Henry and Azteca Henry moved to San Antonio from Corpus Christi; the former founded his law firm there in 1993. Nueces County records show that the Henrys married on June 3, 1999. The Henrys and their two children starred in a YouTube reality series called Hanging With Los Henrys that debuted in 2017 and was produced and paid for by Thomas J. Henry.

Lawyers for both parties agreed to August deposition dates for Azteca Henry, Thomas J. Henry, Jo Chris Lopez of Langley & Banack, and Bradley Coldwell of Austin family and divorce law firm Coldwell | Bowes, who is also representing Azteca Henry.

Dallas attorney Paul Watler, a partner in the Jackson Walker law firm, intervened on behalf of the Rivard Report on Monday, requesting that the judge deny Thomas J. Henry’s requests to close further court proceedings, seal court records, and for a confidentiality order.

“The First Amendment, the Texas Constitution and Texas common law provide that all court proceedings and court records in Texas are presumptively open to the public and the news media, and that any party seeking to close court proceedings or records has a heavy burden of proof and persuasion,” Watler wrote. “Respondent has not and cannot meet that burden in this case.”

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.