Patterico's Pontifications

9/5/2008

Update on Texas FLDS Custody Cases

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Law — DRJ @ 2:04 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The Presidential election is 60 days away and most of us, including me, are primarily interested in that. However, for those who are also interested in other stories, I’ve updated the status of the Texas FLDS child custody cases below.

The Austin American-Statesman reports the State of Texas has dropped 235 FLDS sect child custody cases and acknowledged that most of the children seized during a raid on the FLDS sect’s ranch can safely live with their parents or guardians:

“They’re being dropped “as fast as we can because it’s a burden on everyone,” [Texas CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins] said.

He said the dismissals do not mean that abuse never occurred, only that many of the children can safely live with a parent or other relative — something that sect members and their lawyers argued early on in the chaotic custody case.

“It most certainly goes back to the idea that the proper way to have conducted this process was to get evidence as to what children, if any, were at risk,” said Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which represented dozens of mothers in the case. “They went through this ordeal, and in the end, CPS found they were a good parent.”

I agree now and at the time that the cases should have been separated instead of heard in a global proceeding, but the FLDS made that difficult to do. Let’s avoid rehashing that issue in the comments, okay?

Crimmins also stated more cases are likely to be dropped. Until then, approximately 200 children and their parents are subject to a court order that requires their families to “stay in Texas, attend parenting classes or be available for unannounced visits by Child Protective Services.”

Meanwhile, the San Angelo Standard-Times has three reports regarding the child custody hearings that have not been dismissed. As noted in this article from yesterday, the FLDS continued to try to replace a lawyer for an FLDS girl reported to be a sex abuse victim. Today’s article announces the judge’s late night ruling refusing to replace the attorney. The FLDS attorneys apparently unsuccessfully used details from the divorce of the girl’s attorney to argue the attorney should be replaced.

Finally, this third article substantiates NK’s earlier reading of the newspaper articles that the Texas CPS tried to avoid providing discovery to the FLDS. Well done, NK.

— DRJ

14 Responses to “Update on Texas FLDS Custody Cases”

  1. “He said the dismissals do not mean that abuse never occurred,”

    Ah. Of course they don’t, Mr. CYA McBureaucrat. They also don’t mean that that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real.

    CTD (7054d2)

  2. So from over 400 cases they are down to what, 3 or 4, maybe 6. Well, they’re where they should have been from the start. Bring cases only where the child is in a situation where the child could suffer real, immediate, irreversible harm. This means girls aged about 12 or 13 up to 17. This whole thing was botched from day one and will live on as a wonderful example of what “not to do.” I can’t help but think that because these people practice a “fringe” Christian religion, they were treated more harshly than they should have been treated. I mean, automatic weapons and SWAT teams when they went in there. These people didn’t deserve the treatment they received. The children expecially didn’t deserve the treatment they received and I’m sure that some of them will carry their emotional scars from this incident for a long, long time.

    J. Raymond Wright (d83ab3)

  3. My friend, there’s video on captive flds children org showing CPS entering single family houses without warrants. FLDS didn’t force them to take ALL the kids. FLDS cooperated from the beginning:
    http://freetoseparate.blogspot.com/2008/08/flds-were-not-cooperative-hogwash.html

    ZEITGEIST (8f6205)

  4. J Raymond Wright,

    There are 13 pending cases. In addition, the grand jury is still meeting and there reportedly have been more indictments issued or are being considered.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  5. Well done, NK.

    I am sorry that I was right. I believe in our justice system. I respect and trust the judges before whom I appear. I’m very sorry that Judge Walther is not one of them.

    nk (21731d)

  6. Legal question for anyone who may know….does the judge have to sign-off on the benign findings, or does the State and/or its agents have the power to remove the “good” parents/families from the “probationary” terms Walthier set forth in her order to reunite the families?

    Kudos to you, nk. I only wish there were some way to sanction the individuals responsible for willfully withholding discovery.

    Ed (f35a20)

  7. DRJ I stand corrected. From 400 and something down to 13. It is still a giant, giant leap. And I hope that if some scumbag(s) forced an underage girl to marry and have sex, that he, or they, be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The children’s protection should come first. All I’m saying is that what CPS did initially was not in the best interests of the overwhelming (over 400) majority of the little ones and that literally ripping them from their mother’s arms could, and probably did, cause some irreperable (sp?) emotional damage.

    J. Raymond Wright (0440ef)

  8. J Raymond Wright,

    If there was a mistake here, it was the judge’s error in trying to hear these cases as 1 global hearing instead of separate hearings for each family. I think there are two reasons the judge did that (and I’m guessing based on contemporary news reports and what I know about Texas judges, lawyers and law):

    First, this is a remote area of West Texas with a limited number of judges and only 14 days to hold the initial hearing. I think the judge decided she had to hold the hearing herself. At the time, I stated in a blog post/comment (I can’t remember which) that I would prefer that she call on the Texas Supreme Court to furnish more judges for individualized hearings, just as the Texas Bar Association called on hundreds of lawyers to help represent the various parties. In retrospect, I’m sure the judge wishes she had done that.

    Second, however, the FLDS parents and children did not cooperate in identifying the various family units. In fact, as was made clear at the time by news reports and public statements, the FLDS members actively sabotaged State efforts to identify family units. In so doing, that made the global hearing option much more desirable and the separate hearing requirement much more difficult.

    I expect the Texas Legislature to try to deal with this in the next session. Texas is a fairly libertarian state so I don’t think the changes will make it easier for CPS to take away children. Instead, I expect to see legislation that provides alternate remedies and procedures when families refuse or actively thwart efforts to identify the parent-child relationships.

    DRJ (7568a2)

  9. Ed,

    Yes, the Judge signs off on the decision to end the child custody proceedings.

    DRJ (7568a2)

  10. Ed #7,

    “Sanctions” are meaningless in child custody cases. Child custody cases are not adversarial in any meaningful sense because their purpose is the best interest of the child. And when they go wrong it’s only the child that’s hurt.

    nk (21731d)

  11. I don’t blame the FLDS for trying to obstruct the effort to identify the particular familes. Plus most of these families are blended and there are not distinct famiilies.

    The FLDS knew they were under attack by the state and resisted. CPS should be totally reformed and the top people fired.

    RAH (8044c4)

  12. My wife and I, both pastors, house homeless and runaway children. I am not oging to say that CPS is always right. They have made some horrible mistakes. However, you must consider that they can make a mistake in either direction. If they are conservative, that is, they restrict their actions, there is the possibility that the safety or life of the child may be at risk. If they are liberal and act as soon as there is a hint of a problem, then children may be traumatized and families unneccessarily harrassed and broken. It is not a job that I would want. I do know that some of the kids that have passed through our house were very lucky to be taken out of some very dangerous situations.

    Craig (75e896)

  13. …”When they came to get the Jews I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t one of them. When the Nazis came to get the blacks I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t one of them. Wshen they took the crippled, the mentally insane away, I didn’t say anything. When they took the Catholics away I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t one of them. Now I can’t say anything because they have come and taken me away.” This statement was found on the wall of Dachue when it was liberated in 1944 …It was written by the protestant clergyman Martian Niemuhler….Remember,,,those who cannot remember the past are comdemed to repeate it…..”know your Rights, we are Americans liberated from the brutal punnishment of the bloody British…

    Donna Bowles (0684ce)


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