Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Enough is Enough! $7 Million Dollars To Persecute Polygamist Parents Is Ridiculous! ~ by Legal Pub


Perhaps to no surprise of any lawyer in America (except for Nancy Grace) the children have been returned to their polygamist homes. But at what cost? Removing 460 children from the polygamist compound and then reuniting them with their families ended up costing Texas tax payers $7 million. (Based on estimates from the state Department of Family and Protective Services.) Was it worth it to be so wrong?

Almost any lawyer who has tried CHINS cases anticipated that the children would be ordered to return to their families. After all, this should be the ultimate goal of any such case. However, it occurred earlier than perhaps some anticipated because the Texas Supreme Court found that the state did not have enough evidence to show that abuse was happening at the compound. Despite not having evidence of true abuse, the State continued to fight to retain custody and determine parentage through DNA testing. (One suspects that another motive was for the State to gather DNA evidence to prosecute certain leaders for their polygamist beliefs.)


The $7 million price tag does not include more than $500,000 spent by local government agencies involved in the April 3 raid of the compound owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Child welfare officials claim a "pervasive pattern" of sexual abuse through forced marriages between underage girls and older men. On the other hand, members have denied that any sexual abuse occurred. One can only suspect that their is a ring of truth to members claims that they are being unfairly prosecuted because of their religion.



Apparently, legal costs are in excess of $2.2 million. While oil is the toast of Texas, it appears that this is an unnecessary burden on the tax payers of Tom Green County and Schleicher County, where the ranch is located. According to Judge Ben Woodward, neither county has the money to cover the legal costs.


Additional costs were incurred before the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals. (The appeals court overturned the district court's ruling that the children should remain in state custody.) To show what a huge waste of resources this has been, $7 million would pay for 137 police officers at a salary of $51,060 or it could fund 180 new teachers at the average statewide salary of $38,857. CPS responded to questions of the cost with a statement that CPS "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."

But what were they thinking? This was the largest removal of the children in the nation's history. It was their chance to make headlines. And what is the recourse for a wrongful taking? Nothing. CPS is immune. That in and of itself is a source of the problem.


District Judge Barbara Walther, decided last month that the state would retain custody of the children, also ordered DNA testing. Some 599 DNA samples were taken. What was the probable cause for such an order? DNA from only 36 adult males were obtained. CPS will soon have DNA results which one speculates will be given to prosecutors to make their case against key individuals.


The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state had no right to seize the 460 children. However, CPS, will use other means to monitor the FLDS. Think back to 1953. Arrests of more than 400 FLDS members in Short Creek on the Utah-Arizona state line occurred. About 200 children were snatched from crying parents and placed in foster care. The raid backfired and Governor Pyle was voted out of office in the next election.


Polygamy is wrong. But this country has a Bill of Rights which calls for freedom of religion and separation of Church and State. Our country was founded so that those fleeing religious persecution had a place where they could be free to worship in the religion of their choice. Some where down the road, our local government has become so paternalistic that constitutional issues such as due process of law (innocent until proven guilty) have been abandoned in the pursuit of the greater good. In the words of Patrick Henry, "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the cost of chains and slavery... I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

so right you are l.p.

Joel A. Brodsky said...

To any lawyer who practices in the criminal defense field you will recognize a practice here that is not uncommon. (At least in Cook County, where I have seen it done) The police want a suspect / target to cooperate (and perhaps confess). They go to the suspects house and find him or her with their spouse and young child. They tell the suspect and spouse that if they don’t do what they want (cooperate, confess, etc.) they will call social services and have the child taken away and placed in foster care. (I have actually been on the phone with clients when the police are present making this threat) I have seen hardened criminals crumble at this threat. One I know took the police to his car and gave them the keys where a large amount of drugs were found, and now he is looking at 20 years. He never would have done that if the police didn’t threaten to take his infant child away from the mother who became hysterical after the threat. (We don’t know how many innocent people are subjected to this treatment because when nothing is found there are no charges brought)
My advise to my clients, and anyone else who is found in this situation is this: Tell the authorities, “do what you have to do”, call their bluff, (because a bluff is what it is 99% of the time). I tell them that (as the Texas Appellate and Supreme courts have shown), we don’t live in Afghanistan or Iran, where mullah’s can come and take your children because you are not living a “proper” lifestyle. I tell them that if the police take your children they will have to go before a judge the very next day and show evidence that the child was in imminent danger of serious harm. People don’t loose their rights to their children (or more importantly children don’t loose their rights to their parents), merely because they are suspected, accused, or even convicted of a crime or live an unconventional lifestyle. The Texas courts have shown to the whole world, (and even Nancy Grace), that in the US bureaucrats can’t treat children like commodities, and that people have the right to raise their children according to the light of their beliefs, no matter how unpopular.

Anonymous said...

Right on Mr. Brodsky!

Anonymous said...

Joel is pretty bright for a lawyer.

Ms Calabaza said...

Lots of money, time and heartache . . . this could've and should've been handled in a less chaotic panic-driven way. I feel for those kids who were torn from the only family they know. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Get LP and Joel on the case . . .

Anonymous said...

Way to go Joel. Nice cheerleading for the obvious!

Anonymous said...

What a waste of money!

Legal Pub said...

The irony is that there is no recourse. CS are immune from liability. They can take a child without due process and there is no recourse for their actions.

I have not seen veiled threats. What I have seen is CPS jump the gun and take babies away without having substantial evidence of abuse. This can be a serious problem when an authority can circumvent constitutional safeguards and protections.

Anonymous said...

You are so right. This country was fouhded on certain freedoms.

Legal Pub said...

To just add further fuel to the argument that the confiscation of the children was just a means to get DNA evidence and other evidence in order to file criminal charges against sect members, consider the following.

"There have been criminal problems located out there," said Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran, who was with state troopers and child welfare authorities when they raided the compound on April 3.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the attorney generals office have taken over the criminal investigation. They will not say how long the investigation may take.

Child-welfare officials have alleged that members of the church pushed underage girls into marriages with older men.

DNA evidence acquired in the custody case should not be available to criminal investigators without a court order. But look for that court order to be sought and obtained.

Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints distrust outsiders. It is not hard to see why with all of the potential hidden agendas of the State.

Taking all of the children even though evidence of sexual abuse was limited to five teenage girls was wrong! Half the children taken from their parents were 5 or younger!

All 440 children were returned to parents per the Texas Supreme Court. But the criminal investigation remains. Authorities confiscated documents and photos they claim may show relationships between underage girls and older men. If they are allowed to have the DNA that they unlawfully obtained in the wrongful taking of these children, it will truly be a slap in the face to the right of all citizens to Due Process of Law.

Anonymous said...

You are so on point this time, L.P.

I agree that Polygamist should be prosecuted, but the State needs to play by the rules!

Ron said...

Yes, they did go overboard in taking all of the children away. The State needs to be more careful in their actions.

Anonymous said...

Ron, to show you how right you are on this one, consider the following. I live in a gated community with 13 houses. One neighbor committed adultry with another neighbor and fathered a child. Three children have had a broken limb in the past 5 years. Can CPS come in and take everyone's children because they suspect abuse in one home and polygamy in another? I sure as heck hope not!

Anonymous said...

I say lock all 13 of you up as long as you are not in a protected minority classification. Because if you were, you may be elgible for special funding, social services, training, education, employment and benefits instead of prison which is reserved for those with different religious beliefs.

Anonymous said...

So religious discrimination is okay?