Family Law

Texas Appeals Court Refuses Emergency Relief in Ranch Raid Case

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After a state appellate court’s denial of emergency relief concerning 462 children in a religious sect that were removed from a Texas ranch in a several-day raid early this month, all involved are settling in for what appears likely to be a lengthy course of litigation.

Except for babies, the children reportedly have now been separated from their parents and sent to foster homes (at least most of which are group facilities). Although there have been complaints about potential due process violations and concerns that evidence of neglect or abuse for many of the children is minimal or nonexistent, it does appear that there may have been numerous underage sexual relationships involving teenage girls. A state Child Protective Services spokesman says that 31 of 53 girls aged 14 to 17 on the ranch are either pregnant or already have children, reports the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, a state appeals court judge in Dallas is reviewing boxes of documents removed in the raid, to determine to what extent they fall within clergy-penitent privilege—assuming that they are relevant to begin with, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

According to Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, which is representing many of the mothers, at least three nine children have been hospitalized, apparently after the state took custody of them, according to United Press International. Among them is a 2-year-old boy who reportedly went into shock and was put in intensive care.

Many parents, at last report, still didn’t know where their children had been placed, and have not been informed of the condition of the hospitalized children, according to the news agency and the Houston Chronicle.

Attorney Amanda Chisholm of TRLA represents four moms. She says nursing mothers have been separated from their children and that children from the same family have been placed in different foster care facilities, reports another Salt Lake Tribune article. Some mothers, she says, “are trying to, sadly, figure out which child needs them more, a child in the hospital or a nursing baby.”

As an earlier post details, an emergency hearing originally was scheduled tomorrow. However, it has since been canceled, after the appellate court refused emergency relief in a Friday order (PDF).

Additional coverage:

Texas Appellate Law Blog: “Third Court Cancels FLDS Oral Argument” “Lawyers Who Support Religious Liberties Question Polygamy Case “ “Child Protection v. the Constitution: Did Removal of 437 Kids Violate Parents’ Rights?”

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