Friday, May 23, 2008

Appeals Court: Judge Abused Discretion
In Failing To Return Children To Families

An appeals court ruled Thursday that Texas didn't have the authority to keep hundreds of children from a polygamist sect in state custody, a ruling that could derail one of the largest child protection cases in U.S. history.

The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin, in response to motions from 41 sect mothers, ruled that Child Protective Services did not present enough evidence at an April hearing to show that the children were in immediate danger of abuse, which would have justified keeping them in state custody. The court said Judge Barbara Walther abused her discretion in failing to return the children to their families.

The impact of the decision was not immediately clear, but it probably means that the approximately 130 children of the 41 mothers will be returned to their families at least temporarily. The court gave Walther 10 days to comply and release from state custody the children, who are scattered across the state in temporary foster homes.
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