Guardianship – STAFF 2015 Group Photo

Myra Kirkland –Myra is the Manager of the Court Investigator’s Office.  She lives in a small town where she has served as Municipal Judge since 2006.  She officially began her legal career in 1998 while attending the Texas Wesleyan School of Law when she began working in the law school’s Social Security Disability clinic and in various internships.  While still in law school, she prepared and argued Social Security Disability cases, clerked for a family law judge, worked as a Public Defender on probation revocation cases, and prosecuted Domestic Violence cases for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office.

Myra graduated from law school in December, 1999, and was licensed in Texas in May, 2000.  She then drove to Mississippi, took the Mississippi bar, and was also licensed in Mississippi in 2000.  For the last 13 years, Myra has practiced law in Collin, Dallas, Tarrant and Denton counties in the fields of guardianship, probate, family law, and personal injury.

In addition to being a lawyer, Myra also attended Texas A & M University in Commerce and is Licensed Master Social Worker.

She began her current position in the Dallas County Probate Court Investigator’s Office as staff attorney and investigator for all three Dallas County Probate Judges in 2008.  As the only staff attorney for the Dallas County Probate Courts, Myra investigates and files guardianship cases for community referrals involving individuals who have no family or friends willing or qualified to serve as guardians or who have no estates from which to pay a private attorney.  She also files restoration, successor, county to county transfer, and guardian removal cases.

Patricia McArdle – Patricia McArdle supervises the Court Investigator function for the Dallas County Probate Courts.  She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Dallas Baptist University and a Master of Science in Social Work.  She is a Registered Guardian, Texas Certified Guardian and a member of both the National and Texas Guardianship Associations.

Patricia teaches CEU workshops on the subjects of the elderly and disabled at the University of Texas at Arlington and has presented in national conferences including the Texas Regional Conference of the National Association of Social Workers, the National and Texas Guardianship Association, and the National Forensic Social Work Conference in the areas of ethics, guardianship, elder issues and community social work, as well as local professional and community groups.  She is a Field Instructor for master's level social work interns from the University of Texas in Arlington and Texas A & M in Commerce.

Elizabeth Hart – Elizabeth Hart is the Chief Court Visitor for the Dallas County Probate Courts.  She has supervised the Court Visitor Program for Dallas County since August 2010.  Her prior experience includes parent advocacy, child welfare, money management as a less restrictive alternative to guardianship, and guardianship case management.  She served as an intern with the Court Visitor Program in 2005 before becoming a Licensed Master Social Worker and Texas Certified Guardian.  She is a Field Instructor for master's level social work interns from the University of Texas in Arlington and Texas A & M in Commerce. She is a native Dallasite.

Kimberly Carson – Kimberly Carson joined the Dallas County Probate Investigator’s Office in 2014. She has been employed with Dallas County for over 10 years and recently served as the Dallas County Competency Program Coordinator for four years. She acquired a bachelor’s degree in Pre-Law before earning a Master’s degree in Social Work. Kimberly interned with the Dallas County Visitor’s Program before becoming a licensed master’s level social worker in 2011. Kimberly’s focus has been family reunification and providing support for families and individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. She holds a certificate in Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT – which seeks to decrease recidivism among juvenile and adult criminal offenders by increasing moral reasoning) and has several years of experience conducting foster care/adoption home assessments for Child Protective Services.

Drew Dixon – Drew Dixon has been a Court Investigator for the Dallas County Probate Courts since 2010.  For over a quarter of a century he has advocated for persons with disabilities.  His primary focus has been on people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.  His advocacy venues are as varied as being appointed to the Board of the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Mental and Medical Impairments to serving on the ADA Compliance Advisory Committee for the new Cowboy Stadium. Dixon created and managed the Guardianship Program at The Arc of Dallas, one of two agencies that the Dallas County Probate Courts contract with to act as guardians for specific populations.  He is a Nationally Certified Guardian and a Texas Certified Guardian.  He is a member of both the National and Texas Guardianship Associations.

Jan Johnson – Jan Johnson is a court investigator with the Dallas County Probate Court Investigators’ Office. Her position was created in May 2014 when a grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas funded the creation of an Elder Financial Safety Center. She supports persons over the age of 50 by monitoring existing guardianships and evaluating referrals for new guardianships. Prior to becoming a court investigator, Jan worked for over 40 years as a Master’s level social worker. She was an inpatient geriatric social worker at a mental health facility for eight years and a case manager for eighteen years in a program for children with special health care needs ranging from intellectual disability to multiple physical and medical disabilities. She also worked in genetic screening and in an employee assistance program. She received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Texas in Austin. She has held her social work license as clinical social worker since the 1986. Jan attended law school at SMU and graduated in 1990 with her Juris Doctorate. She has been licensed with the State Bar of Texas since 1990.

Olga Moreno – Olga Moreno is the Administrative Assistant for the Dallas County Probate Court Investigator's Office. She received her Associate Degree in Office Technology of Applied Science - Administrative Assistant at Mountain View Community College. Olga did an internship at the Law Offices of Rhonda Hunter and Brenda Hull Thompson as Administrative Assistant and legal secretary. At the close of her internship, she was offered a full time job at the law firm and worked there over a decade. At the law firm she learned different court procedures and drafted legal documents. Prior to joining the Probate Court Investigator's Office, Olga worked for John F. Warren, Dallas County Clerk, as a Process Clerk and Mental Illness Clerk. While working as a clerk, she gained experience with the procedures required for the Mental Illness Court. Olga is bilingual in Spanish and English.

For additional information or to contact the Court Investigator’s Office please call (214) 653-6446.

Alma Garcia-Torrez – Alma Garcia-Torrez is the Court Visitor Coordinator for the Dallas Probate Courts. Prior to joining the Probate Court Investigator’s Office, Alma worked for the Texas Department of State Health Services as a Medical Case Manager for families of medically fragile children and children with developmental and intellectual disabilities. She is a licensed Master Social Worker. Alma obtained her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. She completed internships with Dallas County Domestic Relations Office and with Catholic Charities of Fort Worth. Alma has a history of working with populations who are at risk, oppressed, and marginalized, including children, refugees, and immigrants. Currently, she supervises Master Level Social Work intern students from the University of Texas at Arlington and from Texas A&M Commerce University. Alma is bilingual in Spanish and English.

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