Thursday, May 29, 2008

Texas Supreme Court rules against CPS, Judge Walthers; when will FLDS kids go home?

HUGE NEWS!! Many Grits commenters heard the announcement before I did, but the Texas Supreme Court this afternoon upheld the Third Court of Appeals mandamus order regarding children seized in the Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup. Here's some of the initial press coverage:
And here's a copy of the Texas Supreme Court ruling, and here's the partial concurrence/partial dissent. Congrats to FLDS families and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid attorneys who defended their parental rights in these cases.

UPDATE: The ruling is another unmitigated bench slap for San Angelo District Judge Barbara Walthers, if more modestly worded than pronouncements by the Third Court of Appeals. Said the Supreme Court of Texas: "Having carefully examined the testimony at the adversary hearing and the other evidence before us, we are not inclined to disturb the court of appeals’ decision. On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted." Translation: "We 'carefully examined' the judge's work at trial, and the 3rd Court is right - she screwed up big time."

MORE: See Next steps, remaining questions in Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup


Anonymous said...

In order to avoid further & more-pointed "rebuke" by the higher courts, Judge Walther will have to be returning large numbers of children quickly: Within days.

There may or may not be a delay over weekend, but by the first of next week most or all of the kids should be back with their parents. Some at YFZ, some perhaps elsewhere.

Michael said...

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid is awesome! Get some sleep, guys, you deserve it.

Anonymous said...

" Some at YFZ, some perhaps elsewhere."

If CPS did not have the right to take the kids, how does it have the right to require the parents to live in shelters to be with the kids?

The Supreme Court's ruling offered examples of actions which were legal for the CPS to take, was requiring everyone to live in supervised shelters one of them?

Not trying to sound contentious, but curious. I'm sure some one knows the answer

Anonymous said...

It is refreshing to learn that Agencies of the State of Texas must follow the laws of the State of Texas.

The SCOT has sent a message to every employee of the State that they are required to obey the law just like every other citizen. Prior to this ruling, I seriously wonder if State employees knew this.

Congratulations FLDS, and thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness! Those children who were taken away from their parents will have to have some major help. Everytime a change is made in a child's life, the change tends to make that child suffer and become fearful and think they did something wrong to deserve this.

My hats off t SCOTUS, finally some of these know it all judges and especially CPS met their match.

Now Judge Walther, give them back as quickly as you had them taken from their homes!

Anonymous said...

In allowing, "Some at YFZ, some perhaps elsewhere.", I did not mean to provide for a CPS recourse to or subversion of the order. Instead, I meant only that the parents ought to be getting their kids whether they chose to remain at YFZ or at some other location (within State).

This choice might be taken by some, to forestall later CPS efforts to say that some problem-condition exists within a given family ... which could be the case, potentially, with some families.

SB said...

I just got home and got the news. Wow! It's Awesome!

I expect our highest ranking TX officials did think they were above the law. They and Hildebran probably aren't smirking now. CPS has been exposed for the first time.

I wonder if FLDS people can just go and pick their kids up? I can't imagine anyone trying to stop them.

Anonymous said...

Thank God! And thank you for your excellent coverage of this CPS trainwreck.

Anonymous said...

TxBluesMan's gonna be mighty depressed.

kbp said...

In dissenting three Supreme Court justices said they do not agree fully with the Third Court's finding that Walther abused her discretion in ruling April 18 the state could maintain custody of the children, but agreed that the state has failed to present evidence of "danger to the physical health or safety" to the children.

Instead, Justice Harriet O'Neill wrote, Walther was right to award custody of teenage girls to the state, but should have given the rest of the children back to their parents.

I guessed that is how O'Neill would vote.

This reporter tells us what "O'Neill wrote", so I'd like to see what was wrote.

Grits actually commented to tell us of the new post!

...and I missed it until after I'd commented!

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Lowery, that's what I'm wondering. Why can't the parents who want to just go pick their kids up. The shelter knows who they are- they are on the visitation list for their children. They've been there an hour or two each week.
The state needs to quit dragging its feet now.
I read Marleigh Meisner saying CPS workers were just 'devastated.'
Can you say schedenfreude?

kbp said...

Before I forget, and all drift away, I wanted to share something Richard Wexler wrote me in our email discussion of childrens' rights.

"But the biggest problem with the concept of “children’s rights” is simply that only adults can enforce them."

I anticipate that will come into play still in this mess.

kbp said...

I just wanted to point out the the Chron's
article was NOT by Terri Langford or her sidekick, Lisa Sandberg. They prolly took a 3-day weekend off. They'd perfected preaching for the authorities.

It's a sad thing you see often in news reports involving alleged crimes. The reporters have a "local source", and they seldom burn that bridge.

Anonymous said...

It's not over yet & no doubt CPS will make the return and subsequent investigations as painful as possible for all involved. It will be many months before all these children are released 'on paper'. My heart goes out so to all of them. Each age will have it's own set of demons to vanquish. Part of me is saying: Get your kids & go, part of me is saying: Register to vote & do it! Can you just imagine the mindset of the good residents of El Dorado about now?

Anonymous said...

Due to her present and past behavior, she should be barred from making any of the "other protections" as given by SCOT. She has and continues to show biasness and "abuse of discression". No telling what SHE will do now to prevent the children from returning.

Re: anyn..
NYTimes published a chilling article on what trauma has been done to some of these children..we have only seen the tip of an iceburg... A three year old in terrors when she sees a bus, a five year old and two year old having night terrors, a 14 month old crying unconsolably each and every night, a young boy thinking every man he sees is a police officer... CPS did crimes that they themselves would remove a child for (remember the little boy strapped in a stroller for 24+ hrs without food, water, and a clean diaper..was taken to the hospital... you tell me if a mother could keep her own child if she allowed this to happen.. I believe most of these children will deal with PTSD for a long time...

Where is the CPS for CPS? CPS needs to be TPA ASAP...

I hope CPS is punished enough to remember this ruling because something in me says they won't and will risk doing it again to some family who does not know their rights, the law, and have the money to fight it (and the media attention) to the SCOT..and they will bank on that... The small poor family in the urban or rual area needs to be protected from the protectors (there are MANY innocent families destroyed..the law is there to protect the innocent and charge the guilty--when it is ignored, you get this mess..traumatized (for life!) children and mothers. MHMR was concerned for the mental health (depression, PTSD) of the mothers separated from the little ones too)

Anonymous said...

The below quote appeared in the media, and was attributed to Marleigh Meisner.

Meisner is the queen propaganda spokesmouth used to fuel the State, district judge Walthers’, and CPS’ abusive actions toward the FLDS children and families. Her quote is also on the TDFPS/CPS for the whole world to see. We do well to remember, this is the woman who helped orchestrate the mass murders done to children in WACO, as well.

Meisner states:

‘We are disappointed, but we understand and respect the court’s decision and will take immediate steps to comply. Child Protective Services has one purpose in this case - to protect the children. Our goal is to reunite families whenever we can do so and make sure the children will be safe. We will continue to prepare for the prompt and orderly reunification of these children with their families. We also will work with the district court to ensure the safety of the children and that all of our actions conform with the decision of the Texas Supreme Court.’

Read her quote carefully. Then, read this 2nd to the last paragraph of the TX Supreme Court’s decision today:

”While the district court must vacate the current temporary custody orders as directed by the court of appeals, it need not do so without granting other appropriate relief to protect the children, as the mothers involved in this proceeding concede in response to the Department’s motion for emergency relief. The court of appeals’ decision does not conclude the SAPCR proceedings.”

Essentially, the SC puts the ball back into district judge Walthers’ court —to do as she pleases ordering ‘other appropraiate relief to protect the children’ in the way of SAPCR orders (court orders on custody/parentage, etc.) And, especially, the Supreme Court particularly traps those mothers who ‘concede’–’admit’–likely being those who signed the coerced CPS ‘Plans’ –admitting they were abusive by clauses contained therein.

The best positive from the SC’s decision is it nearly forces Walthers to deal with each family individually. However, the bad news is the SC turned the whole ‘vacate the order’ over to Walthers, again,—but, qualifying that by telling her she can use other ‘appropriate protective’ measures.

So, when Walthers abuses her discretion on multiple counts (as 2 higher courts have now deemed–sort of)–what makes anyone think she will not NOT continue to abuse her discretion?

Which brings me back to Marleigh Meisner’s quote above. Yes, read it closely.

She/CPS fully intend to work with the ‘district court’ (Walthers) to be sure that ”all of our actions conform with the decision of the Texas Supreme Court”—especially the one on the SAPCR proceedings…on which the court is allowing Walthers and CPS to proceed.

Anonymous said...

Are there now grounds to request the judge to recuse herself?

Anonymous said...


Does this mean that Walthers can continue threatening service plans and Termination of Parental Rights? Why did the SCOT feel like Walthers will get it right this time? After the 3rd court of appeals ruling, she was already lining up custody cases..doesn't sound repentive to me.. What can she do now? Do you think she will continue to blindside justice?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:05. Can you provide some background to your comment connecting Meisner to Waco? Is there really a connection? How interesting.....

The Local Crank said...

In short, no there are no grounds for recusing the trial judge. If getting reversed on appeal were grounds for recusal, we'd have to shut down the entire judicial system. And yes, this means the safety plans and the SAPCR by DFPS seeking termination are STILL in effect. And nothing prevents DFPS from seeking removal again if, for example, the children are "exposed" to "alleged abusers," even if no "alleged abusers" have yet been named. I expect to see the agency watching these families like a hawk for the forseeable future.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Doran, yes, it's true: from a post on my blog:
This sends chills up my spine:
"In my opinion, this is the largest endeavor we've ever been involved in in the state of Texas," said Children's Protective Services spokesman Marleigh Meisner, who said she was also involved in the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco..."

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

So was their 'expert' witness:
Trish Choate at the San Angelo paper's daily log from the hearings. "A prosecutor questions him to establish his expertise in working with children, as well as children such as those at the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado.

The psychiatrist went to Waco and led a clinical team to work with the Branch Davidian families."

kbp said...

DRUDGE REPORT Top right column

Anonymous said...

BBC report.

kbp said...

Anon 9:05
The Family Code itself limits what Walthers can do if there is no question of custody present (after all are returned).



If by "safety plan" you mean the Family Service Plans , I would not be 100% certain they are still in effect after the order that initiated them is vacated.

The majority of it looks to be based upon the "order" that will no longer be in effect.

Are we on the same page?

Anonymous said...

In the Austin appellate court’s decision, I see no such language about allowing (or even addressing) CPS/Walthers to continue with their ’service’ plans or SAPCR proceedings/orders.

That fact, also hints that the SC today, inserted this new clause/language, for a reason, and not a good one.

and kbp: The Family Code should have prevented Walthers from doing what she did improperly already... it was cited over and over in the court reviews. Why would any family code law now restrain her? She'll, with Meisner's help, will simply find another way to break more.

Just you wait and see.

kbp said...

Go ahead and call me an idiot. I kept refreshing the E-Briefs page at SCOT's web site to get the OPINON!

Opion in TRLA case

Dissent in some on it

kbp said...


Let me start over!

The combination of her order going South and the limits of what the codes will bring to the courts in front of her will reduce what she can screw up.

Is that better?


Anonymous said...

Any plans to sue Nancy Grace?

kbp said...


I can't believe you linked Jeralyn at Talk Left!

She's a sweetheart, if you fit her criteria as a "victim" of society.

SB said...

Our Attorney General was in on this from the beginning, then he was keeping tabs on it and then it wasn’t his deal. Anyway you look at it he’s guilty unless it is okay for the highest law official in TX to stand by and watch crimes being committed.
There are key CPS people who should be forced out and those people seem to answer to Gov. Rick Perry. We need to make some noise to get rid of them and I expect the FLDS will take care of Hildebran and Walthers and Doran and Long. There is a lot of empty space on that ranch and I expect they can bring in as many votes as they need.
I am disappointed that the TSC left an opening you could drive a truck through. The State has the kids and the FLSD have the careers in their hands. Willie Jessop’s is probably saying “Go ahead and make my day”.
When Josiah Sutton was proved to be innocent I was part of an 18 month letter writing campaign to get Rick Perry to sign the damn papers. But he does not hesitate to veto bills that yank the rug out from under our other Austin officials. These same officials are having disagreements with Abbot who is bound and determined to bring the Adam Walsh Act to Texas. We also got money for implementing other hogwash bills and we got stuck with the cost of maintaining them. Many of these laws are seriously wrong for the safety of children.
We pass all sorts of laws that give government more control over our children. We have seen what happens and it can never be undone. We can change the future if enough people are willing to put aside their own hate and hysteria and get serious about these issues.

Anonymous said...

Local Crank:
Can it be argued that since her last order was a invalid finding, it makes her previous order a violation of 18 USC Sec. 1091 and therefore she should be recused since she committed an act against a party in the suit that violated federal law?

I'd think that the court would start with the 16 year old who is pregnant: If this person isn't Sarah Jessop Barlow (aka Rozita Swinton) whose case has been dismissed, this is the most serious case and the court would have to look at this one first to determine under what conditions she could return to the ranch if any - of course if she's legally married she'll have to be allowed to return and no service plan will be needed. The remaining 17 y.o.s with child will probably be brought in and unless legally married, they'll probably get a tongue lashing from this judge, some sort of service plan that calls for them to show that they are getting support from the baby's father, making progress toward a GED or HS diploma and their children will have the same safety plans as the rest of the kids. The court will have safety plans effected for the rest of the kids: ensuring that they get regular health care checkups, that they are in school if they are over 5, with the court and CPS getting the school records and periodic grade level testing (3rd grade and above), and no child under a safety plan can get married (including spiritual marriages and if any one already is spiritually married they cannot have intercourse with their spiritual spouse) unless they court approves. I suppose the court could order they try to prevent under-age sexual relations, but I think the evidence is that they don't really have a problem in that area and putting it in is just an insult to the FLDS.

The court could also order the ranch to offer educational opportunities either on its own or in conjunction with other accredited institutions to help their adults get HS educations and advance degrees while staying there. The lack of education was been part of Warren's plans and does not always seem to have been a feature of FLDS culture (Warren's father was a CPA).

Anonymous said...

Good piece by David Friedman with a couple of historical parallels that justify my calling this mess a pogrom.

Anonymous said...

In re anonymous 0611 AM on education at YFZ:

They are homeschooling their kids, something that is perfectly legal in Texas. They also have an in house MD, so someone is going to college.

Warren Jeffs is out of the picture and I would expect that Willie Jessop or some other man will become the FLDS' new leader. I would expect any deemphasis of education that might have occurred under Jeffs' reign to be rescinded.

One unspoken thing that is a problem for the state bureaucrats is that the YFZ Ranch is more or less self-contained and not dependent on government services. (See all the CPS whining about "communal living".) Being off the grid is definitely not politically correct, even though it might be the wave of the future.

TxBluesMan said...


I'm disappointed, not depressed.

As to the future actions of Judge Walther and CPS? I recommend that you check out BeldarBlog on what will probably happen in the future. You might find his prediction frightening if you believe that the SCOT decision ends the case, but I would read him carefully - he was right on the money with his SCOT prediction.

My own mea culpa is on my blog, Coram Non Judice.

kbp said...

I'm seeing how quite a few had "predicted" the outcome and see the ruling as a "roadmap". LOL!

Most forget the qualifiers they included when they were telling what MAY happen.

They give little weight to the portion of the SCOT opinion telling us: "...we are not inclined to disturb the court of appeals’ decision.... removal of the children was not warranted."

Greater weight to the Family Codes pointed out as reasons the court is not without any tools to protect the welfare of children.

And toss in the dissenting opinion as if it is of importance here.

The end result for the short term is that the 3rd's opinion is accurate. The court does not have sufficient evidence to show there are any victims of crimes. The court does not have the evidence needed to hold the children in custody.

All the court has is a multiple cases to investigate.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"I'm seeing how quite a few had "predicted" the outcome "

Hey, KBP, I even gave you bettor's odds! ;)

I did give plenty of caveats, though. Realistically you have to; as stated earlier, "call the situation 'fluid' would insult the relative stability of fluids. 'Explosive' would be a more accurate term."

That's still true. The ball's now in CPS' and Judge Walther's court, and I don't expect them to to give up on this without at least one more countersurge.

SB said...

"I suppose the court could order they try to prevent under-age sexual relations"

We don't do so very well in this department either. One day maybe we will have a blanket court order holding parents responsible for the actions of minor kids.

Anonymous said...

(proposed TV script for a

(scene showing sheriff riding into town with prisoner)

"Who you got there Sheriff?" "Got me a suspected hoss thief" (crowd gathers)."Why you onery sidewinder we'll show yall what we do to hoss thieves round heah" Another shouts, "get a rope,boys"."Now,now" the sheriff shouts..."we gonna hang the varment alright,,,but first we gonna give him a "fair" trial in Judge Walthers' court"..."then, we'll hang him".

(So, they hang him and later find out his bill of sale was legit).

A number of good ol boys later gathers in saloon to discuss the hanging.
" Well, its not our fault that he was innocent"."Besides, we were only trying to protect those cattle against someone that might not own em"." Yeh,Yeh", the crowd murmers in agreement. "Anyway, people like that got no bidness coming round these parts looking different from us god fearing folk"." Sides, CPS did say they had CONCERNS about the safety of those cattle"...cause he mighta been having sex with those cattle". "Thats right",'thats right", the crowd agreed. Well, lets just forget about it and have another drink.

So, as Dale Robertson would say, "and thats been another tale of the old west".


BERNARD BARUCH: "Anyone taken as an individual is tolerably sen-
sible and reasonable--as a member of a crowd, he at once becomes a
blockhead". Even the kindest, gentlest people, when they descend into groupthink, turn into savages."