Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hearing On Custody of FLDS Children Is Chaotic

A hearing-- generally described in an AP report as "chaotic"-- began today in San Angelo, Texas on the fate of the 415 children being held in temporary custody by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services after last week's raid on an FLDS ranch where they lived. (See prior posting.) Today's San Angelo Standard-Times has a fascinating minute-by-minute log of events at the hearing. The 350 lawyers representing the children removed from the YFZ Ranch-- as well as representing some parents-- were divided between the court house and an auditorium in City Hall. However the video feed to the City Hall location was grainy and the audio was difficult to hear. When prosecutors attempted to introduce the medical records of two girls into evidence, logistics became unmanageable as lawyers scrambled to see the documents and register objections. State District Judge Barbara Walther called a 40 minute recess so attorneys could decide whether to object en masse or individually.

The AP says that a major issue in the case will be whether the entire YFZ Ranch is the "home" of each child, or only individual house in which the child lives. Apparently Texas law provides for removal of children if sexual abuse is occurring in a "home" and a parent does not stop it