Family Law

'Too Old' Grandparents (59 and 52) Hope for Custody Under New Judge

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A judge in a controversial child custody case in Texas has angrily stepped down after apparently being persuaded that a related judicial conduct investigation required him to do so.

After Juvenile Court Judge John Phillips decided last year that Yolanda and Arnold Del Bosque were too old to raise the young grandchildren they had been caring for since infancy and had the two boys removed to a foster home, the couple—who were 59 and 52, respectively, at the time of the ruling—made an age bias complaint against him. Armed with a letter from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct stating that it is investigating the Del Bosques’ complaint, their lawyer, law professor Barbara Stalder of the University of Houston, asked Phillips to recuse himself from the custody case, according to an opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle.

Although Phillips, according to Stalder, had no choice but to do so while awaiting an administrative judge’s ruling on her recusal motion, “high drama ensued” at a Jan. 8 pretrial hearing, when Stalder objected to Phillips’ continuing on the case, the newspaper writes. Raising his voice, an increasingly angry Phillips accused Stalder of arguing with him and ordered a bailiff to escort her from the courtroom, the Chronicle recounts.

“Honest to God, I really thought he was going to have the bailiff taking me directly to a holding cell,” Stalder, who works for a University of Houston legal aid clinic, tells the newspaper.

In fact, however, Philllips soon held what the newspaper describes as an informal meeting and agreed to recuse himself. Another pre-trial hearing is scheduled today before Juvenile Court Judge Michael Schneider, who was appointed by the administrative law judge to hear the case.

The Del Bosques—who had received glowing reports about the home they provided their grandchildren until the judge determined their age to be an issue—are now hoping to regain custody of the boys, who are 1 and 2 years old.

More details about the case are provided in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.

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