Friday, June 20, 2008

Will Texas Move to take kids back in 60 days?

I kick them around a lot but The San Angelo Standard-Times is a good source of information being close to the problem as they are. Once in a while they do something good, like publish Kurt's column or give us a color by numbers guide to the Grand Jury scheme in small town Texas. That's not disparaging by the way, I really need a "take me by the hand" guided tour of what's going on down there. This article is very informative.

"A Schleicher County grand jury will convene next week - a rare second sitting this month that could have implications for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

I continue to point out the disturbing relationships between delays elsewhere and haste HERE. It's as if Texas is communicating with Colorado and Utah on Rozita Swinton and Allen Steed's cases pleading for more time and then putting the pedal to the metal to get things cooking in Schleicher County. The coincidences are too many. It begs investigation. Did Barbara hang up the phone and scream "I've got you another thirty days GET ME SOME INDICTMENTS?" First Rozita waives a hearing, then her overqualified local legal talent demurs until next month on a misdemeanor beef in proceedings that were all too convivial for my tastes. I don't suppose that attorney David Foley's great connections as a former prosecutor hurt him any in El Paso County.

Allen Steeds last court date took a fuzzy sort of delay of about 60 days in the middle of last month. The implication was the delay could be longer. If in fact lawyers on both sides are seeing their cases as dependent in any way on Texas, they would need to wait until something shook out here. Dare I say there might be MORE delays of Swinton and Steed if the Tenacious Texas hits another roadblock and decides to regroup for another attack?

"The exact day has not been officially set, a Schleicher County clerk said, and state law keeps details of grand jury proceedings strictly under wraps.

The grand jury already met this month and handed down 18 indictments unrelated to the April 3 raid on the FLDS compound; a second meeting in a month is quite rare, the clerk said."

The Salt Lake Tribune says it will be quick, with the date "before Wednesday" of next week. Government can move quickly when it needs to. The last time this Grand Jury was convened by Barbara Walthers, it slapped out 18 indictments like it was a mortgage signing (don't read that, press hard, you're making 4 copies). We also learn that we won't see ANYTHING until the Government wants us to. It's like Schleicher county is reading the newspaper and issuing indictments.

"'Grand juries in Texas are secret proceedings,' said Jerry Strickland, spokesman for the Texas Attorney General's Office, which is leading the criminal investigation into alleged forced marriage and sexual abuse among followers of the polygamous sect.

'Therefore, we wouldn't comment on any issues surrounding a grand jury,' he said.

Local prosecutors also had nothing to say about the process.

State law provides penalties for any grand jury participants who reveal details of the proceedings."

We've seen this before, with Clinton Administration officials sending things off to Special Prosecutors and Grand Juries so that they could then say "No Comment." What worries me is that this does indeed look like someone standing around a crowd and writing down names. A little activity there, a little activity here. The state collects names, runs off and meets in Grand Jury session and 18 indictments are issued. Except for knowing they aren't related to the April 3rd raid we don't know much. It looks like an attempt to intimidate.

"The criminal investigation, sparked by a phone call now believed to be a hoax, is one of four known probes into activities at the YFZ Ranch, which FLDS leaders founded in late 2003 near Eldorado."

What I'd like to know is; will they indict Rozita? Personally if my indignation was righteous I'd sure want to keel haul the faker who started all this. If Schleicher County does NOT do this, I can't see them as being very credible or even handed.

"The state's Child Protective Services agency also continues to investigate allegations that underage girls were forced into marriage with older men, while attorneys for a Utah-based trust are looking into whether its funds were improperly used to purchase and build the ranch. The FBI also has opened a criminal probe."

These have been some of my ongoing concerns. Not only are the above two things true, but Elissa Wall is looking for evidence and for funds to use in the lawsuit she has against Warren Jeffs. Evidence to convince the jury in her civil case, funds to pay the lawsuit if she wins it. I continue to point out that her sister was urging Texas as an "expert" or official advisor to go into YFZ in the first place. What better tactic than to tie everyone up in an eternal custody battle while you stack up everything they own and sift through it for evidence. Once it's official evidence, it's evidence for EVERYONE. The general "underage sex" question Texas had before going in, the Utah trust issue and Elissa Wall lawsuit. Looks like they all got together and decided "Hey Kids, let's have a RAID!"

Since my reading of the order says that the court must approve the removal of children from Texas, it would seem that an attempt could be made at any time to get children back into state custody. It would depend on how sensational any revelation is, that is made after the Grand Jury is done. I would suspect that after parenting classes are done, some FLDS parents will start moving to remove conditions of their own custody. At some point Texas will have to move if it is going to regain custody of some children, as would seem to be their intent.

The original breakdown in negotiations between Walthers and the FLDS centered in part on THIS statement found in The Salt Lake Tribune;

"Also, the children would not be allowed to leave the state for at least 90 days, and if the families move within Texas, the parents must notify the state seven working days prior to the relocation."

If THIS remains true, then in about the next 60 days, expect some attempt by the CPS to retake children.

"(Jerry) Strickland said the state is 'working diligently and thoroughly,' while CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said her agency also had nothing new to report.

CPS' initial case, which had resulted in the removal of 440 children from the compound, collapsed last month when the Texas Supreme Court ordered the state to return the children.

It remains likely the agency will return to court to seek additional protections or removals, but no plans for such actions exist as yet, Meisner said.

'We are waiting for the completion of the investigation,' she said."

That's because there are no salacious bad deeds to cover their abuse of the law. Many of us think that CPS has far too much power but even THAT power was exceeded by Texas when they went in the first time as evidenced by the reversals in court. They need at least the cover of indictments to try it again.

"A grand jury by law is composed of 12 members and can be impaneled by a state district judge at any time during its prescribed term.

In a smaller county like Schleicher, grand juries are rarely impaneled twice in a month.

In a grand jury proceeding, prosecutors present witnesses and evidence - usually without cross examination - in hopes of winning an indictment, the formal charge that begins the hearing and trial process in a criminal case."

Which means we're moving at warp speed to get indictments folks.

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