SAN ANGELO, Texas The Supreme Court wants more information from parents' attorneys before making a decision about the fate of more than a hundred children taken into state custody in the raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch.
In an e-mail, a court spokesman said the Texas Supreme Court requested a response to the state's petition by 9 a.m. Thursday. It also requested a response to a companion case. The state filed an appeal on the case with the high court today.
The Texas Supreme Court has remained silent ever since the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services appealed a ruling by Austin's Third Court of Appeals, which ruled the agency improperly removed the children from the FLDS property during an April raid.
Texas child welfare authorities filed an appeal and a request for an emergency stay on a companion case that mirrors the one filed with the appellate court by 38 mothers. The case involves mothers Louisa Bradshaw,
Gladys Mae Jessop and Marie Steed.
Dovetailing on the legal filing by the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Society, lawyers for Bradshaw, Jessop and Steed filed their own writ of mandamus, seeking to have their children returned. When the Austin appellate court ruled, it also granted the request by the three mothers' attorneys, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.
"When the court granted theirs, they granted ours for the same reason," the mothers' attorney, John Kennedy, told the Deseret News today.
In its motion for an emergency stay, lawyers for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services repeat their arguments that it still has not identified the parents of the FLDS children in custody.
"Louisa Bradshaw identified her children and husband," agency attorney Michael Shulman said in the filing. "Gladys Mae Jessop identified her children but not her husband or the father of her children. Marie Steed identified her children but not her husband or the father of her children."
Texas child welfare lawyers say that establishing those family links is critical to determining whether a home is safe from sexual predators.
"Failure to grant a stay will mean that approximately five children in this case will be returned to alleged mothers without any male sexual perpetrators being identified," Shulman wrote, renewing concerns that
reunited families may flee Texas and have no supervision by the state to protect children from abuse.
Kennedy said his office was drafting a response. Lawyers for the 38 FLDS mothers have said in court filings that Texas authorities have already established family relationships, especially during marathon status hearings that laid out the terms for parents to be reunited with their children.The hearings abruptly stopped when the Third Court of Appeals issued its ruling.