Calling all lawyers.
The State Bar of Texas has put out a call for volunteer attorneys to provide pro bono representation for the 416 children now in state protective custody after being taken from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's compound in Eldorado.
"Since the news first broke, the State Bar has been providing free online training to all lawyers volunteering to serve as attorneys ad litem for the hundreds of children taken into state custody," State Bar of Texas President Gib Walton said in a statement posted on their Web site.
The child-custody case is the largest of its kind ever in Texas history. Because of that, the State Bar (which certifies and disciplines lawyers) is coordinating efforts to recruit volunteer lawyers. A massive volunteer training session was held in San Angelo Friday, the State Bar said.
Walton said in his statement that the State Bar is trying to "help ensure that all persons involved are fairly represented and, in particular, that the children are served fairly and compassionately by our justice system."
At a court hearing next Thursday, Texas child protective services officials must prove that the children were at risk of abuse and neglect to justify their removal. The children will each have an attorney to represent them in court, which means a lot of attorneys are needed.
Fort Worth-area family law attorney Tom Vick is coordinating the efforts, the State Bar said. Attorneys seeking to help must indicate the extent of their experience working with child protective services cases and whether they are certified in Texas as an attorney ad litem.More information can be found at texasbar.com.