Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Make Schleicher County pay its own portion of YFZ raid costs

As individual custody hearings continue this week in San Angelo, down the road in Austin this morning the Texas Senate Finance Committeee at 10 a.m. will hold a hearing that will include discussion of how the state will pay for the Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup.

(Here's a link to the archived video from this morning's hearing.)

So far, the state has spent more than $5.3 million, and expects to spend more than $21 million by next year. And that doesn't include extra costs the county incurs because of court hearings, costs for ad litem attorneys, costs of the raid and other expenses.

The state has to pay CPS' bills, but I'd prefer the Legislature NOT bail out Schleicher County on this fiasco. IMO they should be subject to Gen. Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn Rule" ... you break it, you own it. Sheriff Doran "broke" this case, launching the raid based on a hoax that law enforcement either knew wasn't real or didn't bother to investigate: let his department and the county own the extra costs.

UPDATE: I couldn't tell which state senator made the comment, but someone on the dais suggested that there were "valuable" assets on the YFZ Ranch, and the state should look to seize them to pay for CPS costs on the grounds that "the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for this."

Hmmmm. WHY, exactly, shouldn't the taxpayers pay for it? Bumbling state bureaucrats got us into this mess, why shouldn't government foot the bill? I don't see that argument at all. Even if criminal charges are ultimately filed (so far, the original rape allegation was a hoax and there are no criminal charges), no one thinks everyone at the ranch engaged in criminal conduct, so how could they justify seizing every home?

Several problems with this come to mind: First, the ranch is already owned by a court controlled trust from litigation in Arizona and Utah, so somebody beat them to the punch! Also, though I don't know much about CPS law, I've never heard of asset forfeiture based on a child protection case. (Readers?) Is that even done? And given the bogus origins of this case, the asset seizure arguments might be more difficult to make than the senator presumed.

NUTHER UPDATE: A judge from Tom Green County estimated that court costs for the YFZ case may run $2.25 million over the next year, but a) a committee discussion revealed that number was lowballed, and b) the figure does not include ANY compensation for ad litem attorneys appointed to work in the case. In addition, said the judge, many attorneys appointed in the case "may not have known" that the courts "expected" them to work pro bono (!).

The current line item for attorney compensation in the proposed budget is zero, causing Chair Steve Ogden to tell the judge they need to "rework their budget." "Everybody involved here has a right to good counsel," said Ogden, "and I'm not sure you're going to get that if everybody has to work for free." Good for him, for saying so.

All costs for appointed attorneys under current law are paid solely from the counties, and there's no mechanism in place for the state to reimburse them. Maybe the best way for ad litem attorneys to put a stop to the worst of the state's shenanigans in this case would be simply for all of them to bill the county for their legitimate time and expenses.

LBB suggested a number of avenues for reimbursing county expenses. First the Governor's office, they said, has grant funds available that could be most immediately redirected, though of course that would take funds away from other worthy programs. The Governor could possibly declare an "emergency" and use emergency response funds, but it's not clear, they said, if this incident qualifies as an "emergency." It's also possible that funds from the Governor's office allocated for "criminal justice planning" could be used for these purposes, as well as "county essential services grants."

Chairman Ogden asked if the Legislature had the authority to simply give money to a county because it ran over budget. LBB replied that the easiest method would be for the Governor's office to pay for the costs, and left hanging in the air the question of whether the Lege could pay for this or not. He also suggested raiding the crime victms' compensation fund for extra cash.

Ad litem attorneys in the YFZ case: Send in your billable hours and expenses. All of them. Making local government bear the full costs of their unwise decisions might be the best way to hold them accountable and encourage them to quickly resolve cases where no specific abuse has been alleged.


Stephen said...

Not to mention, the judge is in a quandary. Since the reason for the raid is the statistical chance of underage sex and pregnancy, and since underage sex is vastly below Texas norms and underage pregnancy is also below Texas norms, the only community that the Judge can send the children to where they would be "safe" is not Texas.

Not to mention, she has now to figure out how to remove all of the children from Texas to keep them equally safe.

Sigh ...

Anonymous said...

If my tax dollars can pay for the Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Association, then they can pay for this. Gladly.

Anonymous said...

Anon, 7:52.

Are you sure your tax dollars "pay for" the TCDLA?

rericson said...

In fact, we're all paying for some portion of this debacle...all being the entire tax base of the USA....Title IV E money pays for out-of-home residential placment...

The innoculations and other "medically necessary" costs are paid for by Medicaid...which is also, in part, federal money...

The list goes on....
Let's figure the long term cost of necessary behavioral health care for PTSD and other related mental health issues CAUSED by these decisions...
Oops...I forgot, the disenfranchised naysayers, who are busy writing books, are going to dedicate the profits from their book sales to pay the costs of 'saving' these children and mothers....lmao!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

When you call it the "Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup" I have this vision of Yakety Sax playing in the background, with CPS running around a park chasing women in frontier dresses.

kbp said...

The county and it's Sheriff hold a lot of the responsibility for what has taken place in this mess, but it's hard to figure out who should pay for what portion of the cost associated with it.

Soon after the FLDS purchased the ranch, Rep. Harvey Hilderbran was pushing legislation designed to clean up his backyard of those that dress funny. Something had him motivated, and evidently there was plenty of support.

It is known that Hilderbran had many in from out of state to consult with on of how the laws be ALTERED, adding greater restrictions, strictly to make certain practices of the FLDS illegal. Sheriff Doran's involvement with some from out of state also indicates somebody was pushing him.

All contact Doran has had with the media should leave everyone certain he's not the sharpest tool in the shed. That man is not the leader of this fiasco, merely the idiot in a position with enough authority to see to it that the tools were in place for the raid.

We know from admissions, public records and other information filtered into the media, that the DA's office, AG's office, Texas Rangers, and the CPS/DFPS were in on setting the raid up. There were also many other departments and agencies of the state pulled in, along with the fed's (though very limited). Add to that the fact that many in the state's network support what's going on, including the Governor.

Schleicher County and Doran's department should certainly be held responsible for their parts in this mess, but it does not single out the person or persons that have had so much influence in instigating the plan to control or eliminate the FLDS from the ranch.

Hilderbran, and or those that influenced him, are the ones that should be held responsible for the costs of this mess.

So far it looks as if everyone from top to bottom in the ladder of command is happy to go along and pitch in to cover the costs. Maybe a big fat civil judgment down the road will make them want to point at somebody to blame, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting to see that happen.

Anonymous said...

In response to kbp at 1002:

The obvious out-of-towners who would profit from this mess is the Utah AG and the head honchos of the LDS.

rericson said...

An interesting tid bit....
I just looked up requirements for use of Title IV E money....
Here's a cut and paste from the Administration For Children and Families web site...ACF is the Federal CPS...
A point of clarification; The language 'foster care' refers not just to the common use of 'foster', but is a general term for out of home placements eiter in a residential facility or a non-familial family setting....
So, based on this, and the fact that the service plans for the children were identical and, in fact, no real individual planning had been done, it's looking like Texas gets to foot the bill in its entirety....

. Question: Please explain the rationale for the policy of requiring judicial determinations to be explicit, made on a case-by-case basis, and so stated in the court order and provide guidance on how to satisfy this requirement.

Answer: The basis for this policy can be found in the legislative history of the Federal foster care program. The Senate report on the bill that became Public Law 96-272 characterized the required judicial determinations as "... important safeguard[s] against inappropriate agency action..." and made clear that such requirements were not to become "... a mere pro forma exercise in paper shuffling to obtain Federal funding..." (S. Rept. No. 336, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. 16 (1980)). We concluded, based on our review of States' documentation of judicial determinations over the past years, that, in many instances, these important safeguards had become precisely what Congress was concerned that they not become.

States have a great deal of flexibility in satisfying this requirement. For example, the court order may reference the facts of a court report, related psychiatric or psycho-social report, or sustained petition as a mechanism for demonstrating that judicial determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. If the State can demonstrate that such determinations are made on a case-by-case basis through a checklist then that is acceptable also.

Source/Date: Preamble to the Final Rule (65 FR 4020) (1/25/00)
Legal and Related References: 45 CFR 1356.21 (d); S. Rept. No. 336, 96th Congress, 2nd Session 16 (1980)

kbp said...

The obvious out-of-towners who would profit from this mess is the Utah AG and the head honchos of the LDS.

Considering some of the comments the Utah AG has made, I believe ha and the LDS would accept legal plural marriages with open arms, so long as the mess involved is worked out in someone else's backyard!

kbp said...

Day 2 Live Reports

kbp said...

From the Live Reports:

"[The mother's attorney,Tamara] Duncan asked Medrano [CPS caseworker] whether Joshua could have access to religious materials.

"The department would like to provide books as long as it doesn't have Warren Jeffs' picture or signature on it," Medrano said.

"Why?" said Duncan.

"Just following the rules of the department at this time," Medrano said.

[Judge Marilyn] Aboussie said that Jeffs - the spiritual leader of the FLDS - is a felon convicted on sex-related charges."


"Carl Kolb, a lawyer from San Antonio, represented Seth Jeffs [Warren's brother] in court today...

Both argued there is no indication any of the children have been physically, mentally or sexually abused. Kolb said the only connection between the Jeffses and other families where abuse is suspected is their religious beliefs, drawing a connection to religious persecution.

"They took my clients' kids away," Kolb said. "What's the common denominator?"

Kolb also said CPS keeps his clients from mentioning Warren Jeffs when they see their children, even though he is a family member and religious leader.

"What's the state's argument, that to mention him by name, who's locked away in prison, is equivalent of child abuse?" he said after the hearing. "That's a pretty big stretch.""

This ban of Warren Jeffs' pic's & preachings is going too far, IMO. I really wouldn't give much more time to debating it, but censoring him totally looks to leave the door open to censoring
out other religious leaders that were criminals, including a certain one we all know of that was executed.

Anonymous said...

kbp said:

"Considering some of the comments the Utah AG has made, I believe h[e] and the LDS would accept legal plural marriages with open arms, so long as the mess involved is worked out in someone else's backyard!"

Well, I didn't quite mean my comment in this way, but yes, you're probably correct. After all, the LDS didn't abjure polygamy, just its practice in this life.

Whether SCOTUS likes it or not, they will have to revisit their 1890 ruling. I expect the social conservatives to really squeal when this happens. Part of the justification for the Lawrence v. Texas ruling came from consideration of non-US law. (Justice Scalia criticized this in his dissenting opinion, but his hands aren't exactly clean on this subject.) The same use of foreign law could be brought up in the case of polygamy, as some Muslim countries practice it as prescribed in the Sharia.

If polygamy is legalized, then polyandry will be also -- I would think. This might balance out the "what do we do with the excess men" problem. (The Chinese problem of an excess of men is solely self-inflicted by their one child per family policy and the tradition that there has to be a boy to carry on the family name.)

But the real winners might be the probate lawyers, who will have to sort out intestate polygamous/polyandrous inheritances!

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

"Arthur L. Barlow has never stepped foot on the YFZ Ranch and he left the polygamous sect ... told the court he does not believe the state's allegations about ranch residents and questioned why he would have to fill out the service plan. "What about this involves me?" he asked. "If I'm not guilty of those, why can't I have my children?"

Bad link in deleted post above!

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Two more 'minors' declared to be adults!
From the 'Live from the Courthouse updates:'
In another case before Weatherby, a child was reclassified as an adult. Natalia Jessop attended the hearing by telephone, verified she is an adult and was granted a motion of non-suit. Jessop then requested to have an attorney appointed to represent her as a mother rather than as one of the children in the case.

The SLTrib has more , pointing out that so far the number of disputed minors has dropped from 26 to 20: Judge Jay Weatherby heard two cases Tuesday that involve mothers who are disputed minors. He declared Natalia Jessop, 18, an adult. The judge postponed a decision on Mildred Jessop, whom the state also now says is an adult, until Thursday when hearings are scheduled for her

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Question for the legal types:

Re the two minors yesterday admitted to be adults. If one them actually is the 'wife' of a 54 year old who has fled, but she refuses to name the father of her child- if they find him, can he be forced to submit DNA without any other witnesses saying they think he's the father?

Would the names on the Bishop's list be good enough? In this caes the two youngest babies weren't even named yet, so it would be difficult to prove that they were definitely HIS sons.

I mean- Warren's in jail, and they still don't have his DNA according to testimony today. So how will the state make its case?

kbp said...

Anderson Cooper 360°

From a pool reporter inside the courtroom

Case #2
15 year old boy

...Also at issue, the child’s access to religious material. The CPS case worker confirmed that FLDS ministers are not being allowed to visit the Cal Farley Home, while children of other religions at the home can have ministerial visits. Another issue involves access to the Book of Mormon. The CPS case worker stated the department would have no problem allowing the Book, “as long as it doesn’t have Warren Jeffs picture.” The mother’s attorney asked whether the “safe living environment” outline in the CPS plan meant “away from the ranch.” He replied, “Yes, away from the ranch.”

“safe living environment” = "away from the ranch.”

Not sure how much credibility to put in the source here, but if it's accurate it's worth asking WHY?

rericson said...

One of the things they will be able to determine is whether these two unamed babies have siblings...and if the siblings are 1/2 siblings or full siblings....
and if they are 1/2 siblings on their maternal or paternal side.....
DNA testing, if they want to get really elaborate, can connect a great number of dots.....
Believe you me....someone, somewhere, in the hallowed halls of CPS has a really big chart on their wall....and one by one, they're filling it in......
I'm betting it has all sorts of pretty colors on it, too....

Scary that they are willing to devote so much time and scarce resources to a witchhunt of this magnitude, isn't it?????

kbp said...


This is a civil case dealing with custody and it looks like your mixing criminal case questions in with it.

If no father shows up, I'd have to assume the state's case, as far as he is concerned, is abandonment.

I have no idea what excuse the state would use to try and force him to submit a DNA sample, as the order for it was directed at "parents" concerning "custody".

If the mother's testimony could result in possible charges she'd face by telling who the father is (bigamy?), then she'd not have to testify to it.

kbp said...


If many in the ranch are descendants of the same people, generations up the ladder, it's not that simple.

There would be too many markers that do not exclude for the tests results to be so easy to use.

The markers would be almost like mixing all the letters of the last names for 4-5 generations of all them and trying to distinguish which were the parents. It could require quite a few markers before you start excluding anyone as a parent.

I should qualify this comment with the fact I am not certain what tests are being run, just guessing the quickest available.

Anonymous said...

"beowulf1723 said...

In response to kbp at 1002:

The obvious out-of-towners who would profit from this mess is the Utah AG and the head honchos of the LDS."

How exactly is the LDS church supposed to benefit from this?

Negative publicity by ignorant/sloppy media who don't bother to distinguish between the two groups despite a split almost 120 years ago? If they can't find their style guides, the newsroom section of the lds.org website makes it very clear.

How about the increase in harrassment (some could be called hate crimes) against LDS people that started right after this raid as reported on this blog, among other places? This is due in part to the problem stated above.

How about the very real fear among LDS people in Texas (myself included) that their families may be taken away from them for no other reason than a phone call and our choice of religion? That if this does happen, we can't rely the justice system to set things straight?

I've always maintained that if there is any evidence of abuse (real abuse, not the "we don't like your religion so we'll call it abuse just to get rid of you"), the perpetrators should be investigated and prosecuted as established by the law. That is not what is happening here.

I apologize if this is coming across a bit heated, but this fiasco is effectively in my backyard. A lot of the law enforcment (including the APC) and CPS people involved are from my area. For me, this is more than just a faceless debate on civil rights issues, it is also history in the making that could easily turn into a repeat of history that wasn't too pleasant for members of my faith.