Thursday, May 22, 2008

Many unanswered questions linger about the Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup

Having had a few hours to ponder the implications of today's welcome ruling by Texas 3rd Court of Appeals that the seizure of kids from the YFZ Ranch wasn't justified (and to read what commenters and other bloggers had to say on the topic), here are some questions I'm still wondering tonight:

Overruling a judge on an "abuse of discretion" standard, by any measure a legal rarity, lays the blame for this entire fiasco at the feet of San Angelo District Judge Barbara Walther. How will she react? Will Judge Walther use the ten days given her by the 3rd Court of Appeals to hold a new round of "14 day hearings," or defer to the appellate court and just let the kids go home?

Any new hearings must respect the appellate judges' insistence that a) the entire ranch is not one household and b) that specific, immediate abuse must be shown to justify a seizure. From what I know, I'm not sure many, if any of the seized YFZ Ranch kids could be kept in custody under that standard. But in any event, the ball is definitely in her court. (Note to Judge Walther: Sometimes the only way to win is to not play the game.)

Also, how will this impact families not represented by Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid's motion? The same fact set basically applies to nearly every case.

CPS will likely appeal the 3rd Court ruling to the Texas Supreme Court. How are they likely to respond? I don't see any partisan trend that makes me think they'd be inclined to overturn the decision. Four of the six judges on the Third Court of Appeals are Republicans, including all three who signed their names to today's opinion. Are there ideological splits among Republican judges that would suggest the Supreme Court of Texas might rule any differently than these three R judges? If so, I cant put my finger on it.

Another question: What happens with families that already signed "service plans" before the 3rd Court ruling? Do they get to back out if CPS had no authority to coerce them into it in the first place?

In a similar vein: If CPS had no authority to seize FLDS kids, and while it illegally had custody CPS consented, as the minors' (illegal) legal guardian, to interrogation without counsel by law enforcement, will such evidence be excluded as "fruit of the poisonous tree" from any criminal prosecutions?

On the legislative front, Texas CPS just got approval from the Senate Finance Commitee to hire 70 new unit staff (including 42 caseworkers), ten new attorneys, and seventeen other additional staff to handle the extra caseload from the Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup (see the list of new positions on page 12 of this pdf). Will they continue to move forward with those new hires?

Will FLDS sue, or will they just go home and be happy things didn't turn out worse? The state might use discovery in civil proceedings to gather information for future criminal prosecutions, but on the other hand, they've already interviewed every person and vetted every document at the ranch. Would it be worth the risk to sue CPS (or for that matter, Sheriff Doran), perhaps in a federal section 1983 (civil rights) claim, or will they just let it drop?

Will the hundreds of ad litem attorneys who went to San Angelo for these hearings ever be paid for their time and expenses?

Will anyone from the state apologize to FLDS members for what happened? Governor Rick Perry? Attorney General Greg Abbott? CPS? Judge Walther? Sheriff Doran? Who, if anyone, among the decisionmakers responsible, will have the guts to stand up in the wake of this ruling and admit, "We were wrong"?

Finally, here's a key long-term question: What changes will result within FLDS as a result of this episode? Will they become a more insular, closed society, or will their forced interaction with the outside world convince them that they need to develop more attachments to and contacts with outsiders in order to protect their own rights and to improve the chances of their faith tradition's survival?

Let me know in the comments what you think about these questions, and what other topics remain murky or unanswered in the wake of today's ruling?

MORE QUESTIONS (5/23):

Why do so many media accounts say yesterday's ruling affects 48 mothers, but the opinion (and the New York Times) say 38? The error appears to have originated in the very initial AP story and was widely repeated, like lots of erroneous statistics in this case.

Why was the Dallas News using already discredited statistics in its editorials as late as Wednesday that dramatically exaggerate the number of teen moms and "lost boys," when other media have been reporting almost daily that those claims have been debunked because CPS claimed adult women were underage?

Relatedly, will this ruling convince the MSM to stop blindly repeating statistics from CPS's PR people that don't jibe with evidence presented in court? Simple due diligence by reporters would have prevented a lot of the worst obfuscation.

When will we hear more about/from Rozita Swinton, the hoax phone caller who began this fiasco? Why hasn't some reporter gotten her story yet? Who did she speak to besides the women's shelter, and when? Where did she get information about FLDS she gave during her "Sarah" impersonation?

Which MSM outfit will take on the investigative task of filing open records requests and investigating in full exactly what happened during the five day span between the initial hoax phone call and the raid. The most important parts of this story happened during that period, which is the part we still know the least about.

Photo LM Otero/Associated Press

82 comments:

Gerl said...

Hello Grits: here is my answer to all of your questions posed:



To - US Congress and President G.W. Bush

cc - CPS, Texas officials, etc.

RE - Citizen's complaint

I, as a citizen, am appalled at the illegal actions of TX law, Tx Rangers, CPS--Marleigh Meisner, Angie Voss, Commissioner Cockerell, Judge Walthers, Sheriff Doran, and Sheriff Gary Painter, Midland county--along with all baptist institutions involve--to include Kevin Dinnin-BCFS. This complaint is against Governor Rick Perry also, as he was quoted in the press as fully supporting the now deemed illegal military-style raid by TX law and CPS.

The TX Austin appellate court has deemed the actions of the above state workers illegal --against the US Constitution, TX Constitution and CPS' own laws.

Therefore, I am requesting that the US Congress immediately demand that President G.W. Bush send in federal troops to Texas to restore these children to their families. Presidents have utilized this step in the past, many times, when civil rights are, were being denied.

In addition, the arrest of the above individuals should be completed and appropriate charges filed against them for the crimes committed against these FLDS American citizens, children and families.

In addition, a complete Congressional hearing must commence immediately to determine how this could be allowed to happen in the US---while so many responsible to oversee---failed to protect these citizens while officials sat in silence, or outright approved of the state of Texas' illegal actions.

All individuals failed to perform their sworn duties, while in the official capacities.

Accountability is the only way to prevent such crimes against US citizens from occurring in the future.

Austin Court of Appeals: http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site297/2008/0522/20080522_114730_Mandamus%20Decision.pdf

cc: TX CPS

Anonymous said...

to hold a new round of "14 day hearings," or defer to the appellate court and just let the kids go home?

Looks like the court is all set up for hearing, but can CPS be ready for arguments on such short notice?

The evidence they produced the first time wasn't convincing to the appeals court so will they have to come up with something different?

What does the ruling do to Walther's career and reputation? I bet she hit the liquor store on the way home after work.

Richard Wexler said...

"Finally, here's a key long-term question: What changes will result within FLDS as a result of this episode? Will they become a more insular, closed society, or will their forced interaction with the outside world convince them that they need to develop more attachments to and contacts with outsiders..."

Actually one could pose the same question about that other insular closed society - Child Protective Services.

But I have another question. I'm old enough to remember the panic that swept through the nation in the 1980s over alleged mass molestation of children in day care centers. The McMartin Preschool case was the most notorious but, as I recall, there also was such a case in El Paso.

Eventually almost every conviction in every case was overturned. At the time I thought surely the skepticism engendered by these cases would translate to CPS' biggest failing - the widespread needless removal of impoverished children, especially impoverished minority children, when poverty itself is confused with neglect.

But it never happened. The same people who were appalled at what happened to white middle class folks wrongly accused of sexual abuse had no problem believing every accusation against poor minority parents.

So how, the FLDS case has provided an X-ray of the soul of CPS. If anything, the FLDS parents actually got better treatment than most caught up in the system. They certainly had better lawyers.

So this time, will the skepticism translate to how CPS behaves in all those every day cases we never hear about?

Richard Wexler
Executive Director
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
www.nccpr.org

Anonymous said...

Regarding lawsuits. I think it very well could happen. Read this story fron cnn.com
http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/05/22/flds.mother/index.html

That's only one of the "disputed minors." What right did CPS have to hold adult women in custody, I wonder? Because these women looked young? Will that fly if lawsuit is filed?

Anonymous said...

That link didn't work. Basically, the story is on CNN.com.
Her attorneys say they are considering a federal lawsuit for violation of her civil rights.
She is only one of the quite a few of the disputed minors.

KMDuff said...

I think the FLDS have already started a PR campaign with their websites that will continue even as they become more wary of outsiders. If they are smart they will continue to have websites that show their "normalcy" in so many things to offset all the ex-members stuff.

Ryan.Paige said...

I'm pretty sure that when all the evidence comes out, Mike Nifong will somehow be responsible for all this.

Anonymous said...

What will be done with all the DNA samples? Hopefully they will be destroyed.

The idea that they might be used for anything at all is horrifying.

beowulf1723 said...

Comment on the ruling on The Volokh Conspiracy.

beowulf1723 said...

anonymous 11:13 said:

"What will be done with all the DNA samples? Hopefully they will be destroyed.

The idea that they might be used for anything at all is horrifying."

I've had a sick feeling that this farce was done to get the DNA samples to prosecute them for polygamy. I think that they were technically obtained illegally (no one was arrested) might not matter. That the 3rdCoA tossed the original civil action by CPS then would become moot.

el_longhorn said...

Let's here it for Chief Justice Ken Law and the Austin Court of Appeals. That was a concise, well written and courageous legal opinion. Judge Law stuck to the law and left the District Judge just enough room to check into any forced marriage type of situation.

No facts supported those allegations for the 30 or so girls in the suit, but there may be other girls with different situations. But CPS has to put up or shut up.

kbp said...

Shurtleff said "They may get sued... I think they [Texas] are in trouble,"

kbp said...

The good news is the Opinion made the top of the Drudge!


The bad news is MICHELLE ROBERTS got the tip top line in the links.
:)>

At-The-Water-Cooler said...

I thought we had problems here in California with our courts. Making home schooling illegal, making gay marriage legal, and promoting alternative life styles in schools.

Maybe the texas court system is too busy to consider the risks; Godmakers movie has been out for years. Out of polygamy a safe house for escaping polygamy has been interviewed, if their description of mind control does not count as child abuse what does!?

This group still believes in blood atonement ... meaning if you sin, you must bleed and some people die in the process ... now you did not tell the CPS anything that would be a sin against your father did you?

Ed Decker's saints alive is well know in Utah.

Nobody likes the government but freedom of religion is not freedom to abuse in the name of religion.

Anonymous said...

Nonsense. Court is not going to make decisions based on watching a movie.
Read the decision already.
CPS had to demonstrate children were in immediate danger, and it didn't do so. The families do not belong to one household. If it's not the same household, then CPS and the judge shouldn't treat them all the same and remove all the children.
End of story.

At-The-Water-Cooler said...

Court is not going to make decisions based on watching a movie ... nor are they from what happened in Jonestown. They have no responsibility for what happens to the children in the eyes of the law.

Anonymous said...

And that is exactly what appeals court did. It applied the law.
Finally. You can't treat all FLDS members as one and the same. They do not belong to one household.

At-The-Water-Cooler said...

They could of done the due diligence of having the children evaluated to determine any risk or abuse.

Their application of the law would of acknowlegded Jonestown as a community - note the evidence of different homes (not appartment complex) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4e/Jonestown_Houses.jpg No it is not graphic it is just the homes.

The only indication of problems was a few people wanted to leave and a cult like enviroment like what is descripted here: http://www.outofpolygamy.com/mindcontrol.html

They practice blood atonement, so the question one should assume the children will be asked when they are placed back with their parents is; you did not say anything to the CPS that would be a sin against your father did you?

When they open a summer camp are you going to send your children there?

Anonymous said...

My feeling is, if FLDS had a summer camp, then the children might be safer there than in a general population. Then there is fresh air, and fresh food, and all that good stuff.

Pligchild said...

"Will FLDS sue, or will they just go home and be happy things didn't turn out worse? Would it be worth the risk to sue CPS (or for that matter, Sheriff Doran), perhaps in a federal section 1983 (civil rights) claim, or will they just let it drop?"

"Will the hundreds of ad litem attorneys who went to San Angelo for these hearings ever be paid for their time and expenses?"

I am not positive, but the ONLY reason I would sue is to get the ad litem and defense attorneys some well earned money. Just let me go home!!

A few years ago an FLDS mother was having a minor surgery in St George Utah and died. It was an easy malpractice suite that never even was considered.

"To forgive, Oh what a relief it is!"

As far as blood atonement, see my blog

lowery.shirley said...

Mr. Wexler, I am glad you are here. What Texas officials have done is a nightmare that needs addressed on a national level as well. This witch hunt has been going on far too long and so many lives have been needlessly destroyed. Sex crimes must be treated the same as other crimes and politicians need to stop trying to out-tough one another on this insanity. I have often thought that sex crimes should fall under Mental Heath where staff have the proper training and nobody is on the campaign trail.
I expect the FLDS men will be more visible and all of those voter's registration cards will be used. They have unity and direction. We are sadly lacking in both.
Sleep must be elusive tonight for those who were shot down today. Some will likely take the day off and make this a long week-end. I don't see any apologies forthcoming. The FLDS has ammo for a lawsuit. Or the could apply leverage to get rid of those who ignored constitutional rights. Whatever they decide will be fair.
We could easily get all of those kids home if someone gave the green light. I would be honored to help. The CPS plans should be used for toilet paper and flushed. CPS, and a few more, need to be drafting survival plans.

chartelle said...

I don't care how many new hires the CPS has authorized. As a group, or separately - short of a nullification of the Constitution - all of them are
constrained by that one obstacle to their ambitions to empower themselves as an authoritarian force.

This case has exposed the raw brutality that government is capable of exercising over the people. I am hopeful that the officials involved are duly disciplined by being censored and/or turned out of office by the
voters.

Yes, that FLDS group should file a class action lawsuit against all those involved. They have certainly
sustained enormous damages - both
emotionally and financially. To simply walk away and lick their wounds is only to encourage those tyrants to come after them again.

They do need to learn to build alliances with other fundamental
religions (and that might mean to
seek a pragmatic relationship with the main mormon church)- who do have political clout.They do represent a meaningful voting block
...no so great nationally or statewide, but certainly within that county. Support officials who will support them.Organize a coalition (ie.NAACP;Muslim group;
LaRaza etc).Create a front group(who knows how strong it is)...how about "The National Association For Religious Freedom".
Tyrants only respect strength,not weakness.

Anonymous said...

While our only duty is to the children, we respect that the court's responsibility and view is much broader,"

Are; Texas CPS employeses considered officers of the court?

Can you find out if they take an oath of office, and if so if it includes any reference to upholding the Constitution?

Why don't CPS employees have a responsiblity to the Constitutions and the laws of Texas? I'm taking their public statement that they have only one responsibility at face value.

Anonymous said...

This is the greatest travesty in recent history in the fight to save children from sexual abuse.

Third Court of Appeals, meet the Federal Ninth Court of Appeals.

rericson said...

A point and a question;

1. I applaud, and will do whatever I can to assist, those who are calling for an expanded national dialogue on Child Welfare and its much overdue reform. We need the equivelent of the President's New Freedom Commission.....

2. What happens to all of the documents seized, notes from interviews, etc.? Will all of this material be considered "fruit of the poisonous tree", and rendered moot?

A comment;
For the families, and some of the defendants of the 1980s Childcare nightmare, the trauma and drama is still very real....and some are still imprisoned or under the dark shadow of the courts...I think of Bernard Baran......

kbp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kbp said...

Number of underage mothers claimed by Texas continues to dwindle
" The state alleged that 31 women ages 14 to 17 were pregnant, mothers or both, a count that included 26 mothers whose ages were disputed. As of noon Thursday, just ***eight*** mothers remained in the disputed category."


This may not matter soon, but the 26 being down to 8 shows so much about all the CPS did to bullchit their way through this mess.

So much that this article pointing out the count problem is by none other than Michelle Roberts.

Walthers and Crew are looking so bad that Roberts evidently jumped ship, she's no longer the spin master of the AP (for now anyway!).

kbp said...

Volokh addresses a couple reasons lawsuits may happen.

rage said...

There's no way they hold more 14 day hearings. First of all, it's way past 14 days. Second, their evidence is far weaker and their assertions exposed as hysteria. If their evidence didn't hold up on appeal before they were exposed, it sure won't after.

Anonymous said...

How long before Carey Cockrell retires "to spend more time with his family?" Surely someone at the state level will fall on the sword.

Stephen said...

From my experience in reading the Dallas Morning News, the paper is good for box scores, an occassional TV listing, and a wide array of government press releases...little else.

Regards,

Anonymous said...

I expect that CPS will push the theory that they will appeal the decision, but eventually won't. During the next 9 days, while everyone is waiting to see whether CPS will or won't appeal, they'll be busy preparing required documentation and court orders to have each family declared "In need of services". Then on the last day, flood the court with hundreds of petitions to that effect.

To figure out what CPS will do, one only needs to review what they have done, what their stated and unstated (implied) goals were, and make the logical assumption that CPS did not act on their own behalf in this matter. Someone (or more than one) higher on the ladder of political esteem wants the FLDS out of the ranch, or to pay dearly for staying. Those goals are more than likely still desired and could still be achieved. It just might take a little longer than anticipated.

If CPS designed Service Plans for each family under the guise of "services provided or offered" (otherwise known as reasonable efforts to prevent removal of children), they can still keep their thumb on the situation. CPS (and others) know that some families will leave the state to avoid the specifics of the plan or even pending prosecution for criminal activity. Some others will comply with the plan (which will in effect remove them from the ranch and/or alter their religious beliefs), and some will ignore the plans, giving CPS the evidence required to remove those children once again.

All in all, the entire community will be weakened, thus making it an easier target. That ranch, with its current infrastructural improvements could make a rather nice "Cal Farley's Boys Ranch - South Addition". It has nice dormitory style living conditions, a stable for livestock, lots of agricultural related therapy opportunities, a school, and a rather nice white building which could be reconditioned into a cafeteria/auditorium/activity center.

With most of the current residents gone, and the remaining few being chased by CPS and embattled in court, the place could sell for cheap.

I'm afraid the only lesson CPS might have learned in this case is that some apples can't be consumed in one bite, but even the most bitter ones can be eaten a nibble at a time.

Anonymous said...

I think we are getting ahead of the situation with questions about whether they will sue or not. CPS very well might have to return the children but that doesn't close the cases on these children. CPS can and does have protection plans in place for kids that are living in their families. In fact most of their work is with families that they haven't removed the children but still have control in one way or another. Just because they can't continue to have custody of them does not take them out of CPS's grasp. I am sure even if they lose their appeals on custody that the FLDS parents can expect to be "working" with CPS for the next year to 18 months to have the right to keep their children. You would hope at this point that all the FLDS parents have retained council and will using them in their interactions with CPS in the future. This ruling is certainly a step in getting the kids back where they belong but everything will not just go back to normal because of it.

don said...

It seems to me that the service plans that parents were coerced to sign while their children were in illegal custody, (held hostage), would be null and void. If someone kidnapped my child and forced me to sign something to get my child back, I wouldn't think that document would be enforceable in court. On holding more 14 day hearings, I agree with Rage. They've already been held. You can't just let her keep holding 14 day hearings until they get it right and find something that sticks. Can you? On lawsuits, I certainly would think that at least some of the parents would sue, (in Fed). For one thing, their lawyers are probably going to want them to, both to try to get paid something for their work, and to complete the job. Their sense of justice that impelled them (lawyers) to scurry to SA would surely motivate at least some of them to follow it through to the final act. As for apologies, some are surely owed, but I don't see any forthcoming. CPS is still insisting they were right. And probably always will. Perry apologize? Yeah, sure. Like he always does when he does something stupid, such as the f---ing edict he issued to mandate 10 year olds girls get vaccinated for an STD. The judge? Doesn't seem the type. The maintenance man at the courthouse? Possibly. Bus driver for the Baptists? OK, you get the picture.

don said...

By the way Scott, here's another question for you. Why are they still "investigating the possibility that the call was a hoax"???? Everybody has known it was a hoax and who made it, for weeks. I mean EVERYBODY.

Anonymous said...

CPS plans to appeal YFZ Ranch custody ruling to Texas Supreme Court

Anonymous said...

In CPS's viewpoint, the call being a hoax was immaterial. They have stated the intial entry into the ranch was to follow up on the call, just to ensure that Sarah wasn't in fact real. Once there, they witnessed all of the underage pregnant girls, and with a knee jerk reaction, took everyone into custody. At least, that's what they've said, and are still saying.

I suspect that any court orders against FLDS members post the filnig of the writ would be considered nullified. The same with respect to the mother who offered a deal to the court that stated she would denounce her religion and also signed a statement that prosed to disallow any child of hers to marry before attaining the age of 18, IF she could have her children back that day. The offer was rejected by the judge, and thus was withdrawn.

The existing service plans will make nice templates for the family in need of services plans after some slight rewording.

kbp said...

CPS / lawsuit?
Continued CPS activities may be of interest to the FLDS if they do file a complaint. It would put the spotlights on every move CPS makes if they continue to condemn the beliefs after a complaint is filed.

Would CPS say they can't stay at the ranch?

Force them to adhere to the signed agreements?

No Warren pictures on the property the child lives at?

No pictures of convicted criminals (Jesus)? ;)

Must the parents preach it's a sin to marry under 18 YO?

Raise their children to believe it's not a goal in life for young girls to have babies?

If CPS does actually file an appeal, which I can't think of many reasons why they won't (it's not their dime), the reasons they give to overturn the 3rd may be useful also.

I actually look forward to reading what they have to say, and hope it brings in more media attention to the matter.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

" Lawyers said that even if CPS doesn't appeal, the ruling, at least initially, affects only 41 sect mothers.

They include 38 who are represented by Ms. Balovich's Austin-based group and who last month sought an order freeing their children; and three others who on May 9 filed a similar request. "
from here

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

"A department spokesman had planned a statement this morning, but postponed it until after a 1:30 p.m. Central time hearing regarding Louisa Bradshaw, who gave birth while in state custody. Bradshaw is one of three women named in mandamus appeal that was approved by the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin on Thursday.
The court also granted a second appeals petition that 51st District Judge Barbara Walther's April order be vacated.
The Bradshaw hearing is a mandatory 14-day procedure to ask whether her infant remain in state custody. She is with her baby, but her other two children are in a separate shelter.
Earlier this week, another judge told Child Protective Services to let those children rejoin their mother."

http://www.sltrib.com/polygamy/ci_9359188

kbp said...

Families could flee
The Houston Chronicle's reporter, TERRI LANGFORD - often teamed up with LISA SANDBERG (for whatever reason!) - must have been running in circles lost when she had to report the 3rd's Opinion.

Having constantly twisted the reporting to fit what must be her own narrative on those funny dressed folks, she had to add comments from somebody named "McCown" that leaves the readers worried about those evil parents taking their children to "FLEE" elsewhere so they could continue the abuse!

She was evidently in such a rush to add the comments from McCown that she forgot to identify who that person is!!!!!

Having followed ALL reports I can, I believe he is the law professor that has been freely condemning the FLDS often for Langford, her own expert so to speak.

kbp said...

LOL!

I just noticed LANGSFORD's article had a video added in the sidebar with "Former FLDS member Carolyn Jessop"

Thotman said...

Will the Texas Supreme Court hear the appeal?....Will the fourth courts refusal to say the Austin District judges rulings are not beyond his authority have any affect on whether they do?

kbp said...

Ben Winslow at the Desert News gives a brief summary of the ruling, reactions from both sides and a good quote;

""They didn't have enough evidence to remove the children," said attorney Gonzalo Rios. A criminal defense attorney for 16 years, Rios was approached by residents of the YFZ Ranch to represent some of the mothers. He said he didn't necessarily agree with the FLDS lifestyle, but got on board because of some of the constitutional issues that concerned him.
"Today it is this group. Tomorrow, it could be anybody. We're doing this to preserve our rights as an American people," he said."

Melanie said...

Interesting note that Brooke Adams just posted, and the Headmistress put up at her blog: there is no 10 day wait period. The appellate court is giving Walthers a "reasonable" amount of time to vacate her order, but no time frame was given.

On the Trib and Brooke Adam's blog both.

kbp said...

Thotman

Could you help out one that is not familiar with what "...fourth courts refusal to say the Austin District judges rulings are not beyond his authority" could reveal to us?

kbp said...

"FLDS mom, 18, says state wanted her baby"
You have to love it when the CPS faces headlines like this, on CNN!!

Anonymous said...

State agency to appeal ruling on sect children's seizure
By TERRI LANGFORD and LISA SANDBERG

In San Antonio, lawyers for an FLDS couple, Joseph and Lori Jessop, who won temporary daily visits with their children last week and a full custody hearing today in a Bexar County civil district court, will use the appellate decision to bolster their argument that the state must return the three children.

"The 3rd Court has said that we were right all along," said Rene Haas, the Corpus Christi lawyer representing the Jessops.

Lori Jessop had been allowed to spend days with her nursing infant but had been told by CPS workers, she said, that when he turned 1 year old he would be put in foster care like her two other children, ages 2 and 4 years.

On Thursday, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services asked the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio to stop Jessop's custody hearing, filing written arguments that state District Judge Michael Peden exceeded his authority and that "it would not be in the children's best interest to be torn between two courts rendering opposite decisions which would have to be addressed in further appeals." A three-judge panel denied the state's request.

"We went to CPS today and said, 'Give us back our children,' and they said no," Haas said.

Anonymous said...

Just to show you, Grits, that I don't comment and run. I have personal experience with CPS, so I'm very familiar with their shortcomings. I'm still more concerned, however, with lawyers abilities to circumvent the protection of children on behalf of their clients when facing CPS in court. I'm not sure that's not what we're seeing here. We have a tremendous number of unprosecuted perps walking the streets. Are you sure we're not protecting even one or two here? I realize that we came at this from very different places before. I get pretty damned emotional about it. You seem extremely informed and just taking a very different approach to this particular story than I am.

The Other Guy

kbp said...

Anon thanks for the link.


I see Langford is back feeling better now with the news. She told a bit more about McCown in this article! I bet she's excited about the news.
"Observers said it was possible that Walther could amend her original order, possibly to ensure that post-pubescent girls remain in state care.

"The order might leave room for some tailoring in special circumstances," said Scott McCown, a former judge who now heads the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin."


The idiot is forgetting "beliefs" can't do that and the absence of evidence NOT presented that the 3rd noted in every case a girl may have been a victim.

More spin!!

Anonymous said...

The CPS Web site states 40 mothers that left the YFZ ranch to be with their children did not return to the ranch. They were transported by CPS somewhere. They were "free to go" after that.

What is the status of these mothers now? Are they still in the "care" of the State of Texas?

Did they go back to the ranch?

Are they visiting their children?

Anonymous said...

Though the argument could be made that this was not Franklins original thought, as it has been traced in various forms all the way back to Abraham in the book of Genesis (-- Genesis 18:23-32), the tenant is the same.

Benjamin Franklin thought "that it is better [one hundred] guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer."

Lawyers representing parent against CPS are not taking advantage of the system to get their clients off. Instead, they're combating a system wrought with potential for abuse of authority (as in this case).

kbp said...

Other Guy

The way you worded that comment, one could take it to mean you'd approve of having 9 innocent people rounded up to be certain they'd get the 10th, who is guilty.

Am I reading that correctly?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ The Other Guy who wrote: "We have a tremendous number of unprosecuted perps walking the streets. Are you sure we're not protecting even one or two here?"

What if there are, TOG? If so, then it was CPS who "protected" them by failing to distinguish them from non-abusers and insisting on lumping everyone together. At least one case was identified that did seem problematic, but that's out of dozens of families. Now CPS likely won't get to keep those kids, not because of the kids' ad litems but because CPS improperly tried to paint everybody with the same brush.

If you want real molesters prosecuted, you should want CPS to play by the rules so their cases stick. But they insisted on playing fast and loose, and didn't follow the law. This wasn't the defense manipulating anybody; in fact, vice versa. Did you read the 3rd Court opinion? The state had ZILCH for a case, for precisely the reasons I've described all along. Media hype is simply not evidence.

Finally, I've never said there was zero abuse there. I've only said, as the 3rd Court did, that the facts weren't remotely, conceivably sufficient to justify seizing hundreds of kids. No amount of supposition or speculation about what "might" be IMO will change that. best,

Anonymous said...

You're making my brain hurt. I mean that as a compliment. No, I didn't read the opinion yet. I, like so many others, count on media coverage way too much. I'll look for it.

I don't know if we'll ever be able to get CPS, or any part of our state government, near being totally capable of effectively handling these kinds of cases or the ones dealing with individual households. Even with reforms, we way underpay them to do extremely important duties.

Yet waiting until we have those investigative and law enforcement mechanisms perfected isn't a viable option for me. I'd rather have them err on the side they did on these cases than to hesitate. That would include a case that might involve me personally if it came down to it. In a lesser of two evils choice, I still favor intervention.

Naturally I would prefer that it had been done more efficiently, in this case, and that the attorneys and managers of CPS have their arguments lined up, but sometimes you just don't get to that level of perfection. The bogus tip is problematic, but there had to be more to it than that and we just don't have the whole story yet. This makes my heart hurt too, as I know that it does yours also.

The Other Guy

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I think it makes everyone's heart hurt a bit, and I appreciate the compliment, TOG.

The media, especially the Texas media, has really been terrible on this. (Thank God for the Utah papers!) Everybody with enough interest to comment or follow the story in the media really should read the opinion, including the footnotes. Here it is (pdf), it's not that long. It articulates in precise detail exactly what damning evidence existed, what remained unproven, and why they found it insufficient. Decide for yourself what you think. For heaven's sake, don't take my word for it; that's why God created hyperlinks! best,

Anonymous said...

kpb said

"The way you worded that comment, one could take it to mean you'd approve of having 9 innocent people rounded up to be certain they'd get the 10th, who is guilty."

Absolutely, you read that correctly. Without hesitation. When it comes to protecting children from sexual abuse. We, as a society, have a horrendous record in this regard. Absolutely.

As someone who has reported such abuse, then dealt with the wrath of the accused in court, all for the protection of a child in question, yes. Since we have so many adults who are willing to look the other way, cover up, not confront, outright lie, remain in denial, codepend, and generally be an integral part of extremely sick behavior so as not to disrupt their life - all at the expense of the victim - I absolutely favor some really tough measures.

If you've got nothing to hide, it will absolutely work out. This case is actually proof of that. Proving guilt is very difficult and we don't pay enough for the professionals involved...another symptom of our sickness as a society regarding the topic.

The Other Guy

Anonymous said...

And now that Grits and I are on good terms, I'll go and educate myself by reading the opinion.

I don't think I have all the answers, but I do have a very strong opinion. To really get at this issue we're going to have to find common ground for improvements in really protecting children.

Thanks again, Grits.

The Other Guy

Anonymous said...

I can comprehend that some new employees might make mistakes. That is one reason that more experienced employees are made supervisors, and those supervisors have supervisors. Even still, some mistakes can slip through on the rare occasion, which is one of the reasons for judicial oversight in these matters.

As professionals, I would rather they not err at all. For the errors to have occurred here which did occur, indicates a complete systematic failure. Definitely one in need of a comprehensive oversight committee to conduct an investigation to identify the problems and how they could have been avoided.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Other Guy, re: "If you've got nothing to hide, it will absolutely work out."

My God, amigo, I don't mean to hyperbolize but that's like something out of Stalinist Russia - "Why should you care if the KGB investigates you, comrade, if you've got nothing to hide?" (Shudder)

If you think CPS should seize kids first and ask questions later, then the 3rd Court ruling is PRECISELY what it looks like when things "work out." Is this what you want? It seems like an unsatisfying outcome compared to actually going after specific child molesters!

kbp said...

Who is "...the district attorney in San Angelo [that] says she'll prosecute"?

"If there's evidence of any crime among members of the FLDS church the district attorney in San Angelo says she'll prosecute. She tells the Deseret News that includes bigamy."

;)

"It's early in the GAME..."
Allison Palmer, ADA

Richard Wexler said...

Kbp writes:

"she had to add comments from somebody named "McCown" that leaves the readers worried about those evil parents taking their children to "FLEE" elsewhere so they could continue the abuse!"

That somebody named McCown bears a lot of responsibility for the mess Texas child welfare is in.

I think he, like many in the system, means well, but that's no comfort for the children harmed by the take-the-child-and-run approach he advocates.

And he has long been what I call the "Godsource" for Texas media on child welfare issues - that one source whose words always are treated as Holy Writ and whose premises never are questioned.

For more on McCown's role check out my organization's 2005 report on Texas child welfare - there's a link on the State Reports page at www.nccpr.org - and do a word search for McCown.

Also, the reason Terri Langford and Lisa Sandburg are sharing a byline is that the Chronicle and the Express-News both are Hearst papers and they're pooling resources. Unfortunately, they're letting the Chronicle take the lead. The Express-News generally does a better job on child welfare.

And as Grits points out, the Utah papers, especially the Salt Lake Tribune, are doing a far better job than anyone in Texas.

Richard Wexler
Executive Director
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
www.nccpr.org

David said...

Did you see this up now on CNN?

Pinkycatcher said...

"Oh, I get it. The Department should wait until the kids are actually abused before doing anything. It's almost as if the Department can't win: If they act, they are overzealous; if they don't act, they are not doing the job entrusted to them -- protecting our children."

Will eventually (under this person's logic) be turned into

"Oh, I get it. The Department should wait until the people are actually in possesion of illegal drugs before doing anything. It's almost as if the Department can't win: If they act, they are overzealous; if they don't act, they are not doing the job entrusted to them -- protecting our society."

See the slippery slope?

Melanie said...

kpb: "The way you worded that comment, one could take it to mean you'd approve of having 9 innocent people rounded up to be certain they'd get the 10th, who is guilty."

The Other Guy: Absolutely, you read that correctly. Without hesitation. When it comes to protecting children from sexual abuse. We, as a society, have a horrendous record in this regard. Absolutely.



I'm sorry, as awful as it sounds, I just can't agree with this. To save one, we make 9 suffer as well? That's a pyrrhic victory at best. I want to save every child in the world, too, but I'm not willing to make 10 times that number suffer in the process. Even if that suffering is less than what the one is going through.

As corny as it sounds, good old Spock said it best: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one." (Okay, yeah, yeah, that was a self-sacrifice, and it's fiction, and all that. LOL)

That's not to say we should ignore the suffering of the one. Or that mistakes won't be made. Just that we should make all *honest* efforts to make sure we're not hurting the nine in the process.

don said...

Scott; "Shudder" indeed. It sounds exactly like Stalinist Russia. Unfortunately, that mindset has been all too common as I have followed this story in various media sources, other blogs, etc. This story also revisits some of the same things we have talked about vis-a-vis the "War on the Constitution", that some euphemistically refer to as "war on drugs". The long discussions of "Tulia". The end justifies the means mentality.
To: the other guy:
you seem to be saying that if this fiasco saved one child from abuse, it is worth the heartache and pain caused to countless others. As I said, this attitude is not all that uncommon re this case. But, and this is a big but, you assume that this was the ONLY way to save that one child from abuse. That just won't hold water. With a little cursory investigation, they could have saved that child without the Roundup. I understand that you get emotional about it, and many of us do. But emotion can overcome rationality. Somewhere in all this mess, cooler heads must prevail.

kbp said...

David said...

Did you see this up now on CNN?

I printed a copy to save in my office, in case I run out of TP!

Just an opinion piece with lots of "because I say so" to back it up.

kbp said...

SLTrib

This article has been up a few hours, but I just noticed it quotes something,

"The Texas Department of Family and Protective Service today asked the state Supreme Court to stay a lower court's ruling...
The DFPS request contends that the ruling issued Thursday by the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin was overbroad and would "irreparably" affect the outcome of cases involving hundreds of childen taken from the polygamous sect's ranch in Eldorado last month."


Not sure how anyone knows what that "request contends" yet. If Brooke had a copy of it when she wrote this article, I'd assume there would be more quotes.

I'd hate to slam the DFPS's it makes our job difficult and it might let some that have yet to prove their innocence get away approach to getting a stay until there's more to go by!

OH! I may have already!

chartelle said...

oodnewsto girl: I have no info as to their
pleadings

rage said...

Posted by Gritsforbreakfast at 9:20 PM 69 comments

Apropos of nothing.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone honestly say they didn't see this one coming from a long ways away?

Authorities appeal court ruling in polygamist case

Even if they were forced to return all the children immediately, state officials said it would be impossible because they have not determined which children belong to which parents, and DNA tests were incomplete.

And then, they attempt to offer evidence not presented in court at the 14 day hearing. At least, this was evidence not reported upon, and given its nature, it's sure to have been reported upon if it was introduced.

In their appeal, Child Protective Services cited as "documented" sexual abuse a statement from a girl who said she knew a 16-year-old who is married with a 5-month-old baby; and the statement from another girl that "Uncle Merrill" decides who and when she will marry. The state also cited five underage pregnant girls.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the old "I knew a girl who knew a girl..." argument. How so very typical.

As for returning the children, just take them back to the "single household" they got them from. It's quite easy actually. Additionally, this week until this ruling from the 3rd, the lower court didn't seem to have any difficulty in determining who the parents were of which children when they were ordering service plans. If CPS still doesn't know who the parents are, it's because they chose not to listen. There is ample evidence of that in each case presented this week.

kbp said...

Anon

That "evidence" reads looks similar to what the affidavit presented to obtain the warrants told of.

If it is something they passed over in their testimony, I don't see how they'd get a Mulligan to put it in now, or if it really makes any difference.

I have not read the documents yet.

kbp said...

Texas State Supreme Court Petition for Writ of Mandamus


Texas State Supreme Court Motion for Emergency Relief


Response to Motion for Emergency Relief

kbp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kbp said...

Three couples whose children were seized during a raid at a West Texas polygamist sect's compound were granted temporary custody of their children today pending an appeal of a state court's ruling that Texas officials failed to prove the children were in danger, a San Antonio Web site reports.

kbp said...

Who was it that left me thinking something must be heard?

Crank or Ron? (not challenging any, just question if this is accurate)
Texas Supreme Court spokesman Osler McCarthy said he expects the court to act on this emergency relief "fairly quickly."

"They could do it in briefs, they could hold a hearing or they could deny it," McCarthy said. "All three are possibilities."


I knew the CPS crew would get SEX and CHILD in the same sentence somewhere to cover dangers for ALL the children!

"after finding a pervasive pattern of sexual abuse that puts every child at the ranch at risk."

Fred said...

Ha! Guess what they leave out of Walker v. Packer.

Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding) (“clear failure by the trial court to analyze or apply the law correctly will constitute an abuse of discretion”).

Now why do you suppose they would rely on Walker and quote it heavily (p 7-8) and leave out the most important line?

kbp said...

In the Emergency motion they argue the problem of not having DNA testing completed and that a "spreadsheet" listing the parentage was not put into evidence.

It seems like if the custody order is not proper, the authority used to demand ID'ing by whatever method is then moot.

CPS argues they need it to investigate to find a crime AND that it is the childrens constitutional right to know who their parents are!

Next they point out placement with "biological parents is given priority", but I do not know what authority they have for "placement" if they do not have custody, or better yet, authority to decide permanent custody.

They then skip over showing evidence they have of there being a problem from determining parentage, to add a general "because" type line in there.

I'd need to search, but until then, does anyone know of some part within the Family Codes that requires ID'ing?

Much of the balance of this motion seems to present the same stuff revealed in Walthers hearing as the reasons to continue custody, ignoring the problems the 3rd told of that inadequate evidence.

It ends with general "OH NO, NOT THAT" warnings of what could follow, and adds SEX & CHILD a few more times.

There are only 4+/- pages of double spaced gibberish. I haven't looked at the couple of cases cited yet, but they tell little of them in this motion.

I guess in an "emergency" you're allowed to skip most of the IMPORTANT details. Maybe there's more in their Writ.


With a weekend to celebrate, I think I'll read the others later! :)

kbp said...

Humor for the wekend:

This case so often reminds me of that old saying;

If we had ham, we could have ham & eggs, if we had eggs!

That's a lot of "if's" and nothing to eat.

twotimes said...

I'd add one question to your excellent list. Why does the Midland County Sheriff's Department have a mini-military assault vehicle? It is in many of the raid photos. Is this what local governments did with our homeland security tax dollars?

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