Month: June 2008

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, domestic violence, education, foster care, General, government, system failure
Sect Leader’s Daughter Tells Attorney Ad Litem to Step Aside
Legal Ethics
Posted Jun 23, 2008, 07:16 am CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

The daughter of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs has told her attorney ad litem in an e-mail to step aside. She sent a copy of the missive to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The teen, 16-year-old Teresa Jeffs, told the newspaper in an interview that Texas lawyer Natalie Malonis is restricting her visits with the people who matter most in her life and has barred her from corresponding with her father, who has been jailed since 2006. The disagreement has created a rift with Malonis.

“The most help you will be to me now is for you to step aside and let me get a different lawyer that I feel like can help me,” Teresa Jeffs said in the e-mail.

Malonis has succeeded in getting a temporary order barring Teresa Jeffs from contact with Willie Jessop, a spokesman for the polygamous sect, the newspaper reports. Another hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday.

Malonis told the paper she is trying to keep the girl free of outside influence. “Right now, that’s not happening,” Malonis said. “There is no question I am absolutely looking out for her. … What’s happening is really a shame because people who purport to care about her are really doing her a disservice.”

Texas law requires attorneys ad litem to represent their clients’ position in court, unless the clients are not acting in their own best interest, according to the story. Malonis has said in court papers that police believe Teresa Jeffs was spiritually married to an older man when she was 15.

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That man was (not) my friend–Tuesday’s Grieving: Sort Of



I can’t reconcile this. I just can’t.

THE MAN WHO KILLED THESE CHILDREN WAS NOT MY FRIEND, BUT… HE WAS…. BUT…If I can’t reconcile this, how can anyone?….the couple was going through hard times, … but this? I just can’t reconcile… How can any parent kill their children? How could he?

Well, thats something that only he knows…. and whatever force made him do it.

Almost Tuesday is mourning the two children, Skyler Montgomery and Canyon Montgomery, ages 5 and 21 months…. I remember their birthdays and how a proud papa called me to announce…

If I had said, “Scott, in 5 years you’re going to murder that baby…” he’d have told me I was crazy…. he’d never believe it.

this was not the man I knew

Neither can I now…

I met Scott briefly in 1995 when my girlfriend threw me a baby shower for my son’s upcoming birth. Scott was a neighbor. He came over bearing gifts – simple gifts – a couple bottles & pacifiers for my soon to be newborn son. He was not anyone I knew, but heard about the shower, and thought it’d be the neighborly thing to do.

Later in life, after a mutual friend of ours was brutally and tragically murdered in 1996. We were at the funeral and met again & Scott gave me a ride back from Louisiana to Texas after it was all over. We were friends from then on. In fact, our friendship grew into such a close friendship that we often said we were one soul split apart from each other at the start; our lives emulated each other’s lives a lot, and we worked so well together spiritually, that sometimes we’d seem to think with one brain; communicate from over a distance telepathically, and feel when something’s wrong. We ran into each other at the emergency room one time in Dallas, both of us had loved ones admitted, and so I was able to be there at the exact time to help him through his mother’s passing. After that he sought healing through a spiritual adviser named Margie. He called me one evening and said, ” I felt my mother’s hands, I could say goodbye to her through this lady I met…. you have to go meet her…”

I did, and another friendship was born. The three of us met often, discussing spiritual ideas and practices, and implementing them in our lives.

After losing a friend to murder, sorrow had the best of us, and we all had the strong desire to start over. Scott & his new girlfriend headed to the mountains in Colorado and I took off for the beaches of Florida. He and his bride-to-be flew to Florida to attend my wedding, and I went to Colorado to theirs. We went camping in Santa Fe New Mexico , listened to countless hours of music & loving certain lyrics that grabbed our hearts.

Our favorite songs together were What’s Up by 4-Non blond, Tomorrow Wendy and Caroline by Concrete Blonde and I Wanna Be There by Blessed Union Of Souls.

Every Thursday night we’d call each other after watching Survivor. Scott was always trying to get me to tell him who won before the show aired there, in Colorado, where the time zone was several hours difference.

I never told.

I saw his amazement when he learned of his daughter, and we all went for a day at the zoo. I saw the love in his eyes for Kari. I saw a future open wide for them, the beautiful redheaded couple…

I didn’t see this coming though….

TheDenverChannel.com

Man Shot; Deputies Find 2 Dead Children Inside Home

Their father was identified as 37-year-old Scott Montgomery. Read the whole story here.

El Paso County Deputies Shoot, Kill Man Believed To Be Father

POSTED: 7:39 pm MDT June 22, 2008 UPDATED: 7:50 pm MDT June 23, 2008

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. — Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a man suspected of killing his two young sons in his home before deputies arrived Sunday.

El Paso County sheriff’s deputies were checking the man’s home around 4:45 p.m. after the children’s mother told authorities she was worried he might hurt their children, ages 2 and 5, sheriff’s Lt. Lari Sevene said.

Deputies who arrived in the gated mountain community got no answer at the door and looked through a window to see two boys laying on the bed with a “significant of blood on or around them,” Sevene said.

Related To Story


She could not confirm what injuries they had or how they might have been injured but the sight of so much blood in the bedroom forced deputies to act quickly.

Deputies burst into the home and were confronted by the father, who was wielding a knife, so they opened fire, Sevene said. She said a deputy shot the man, who died.

The children did not survive either.

I remember Scott calling me the morning after his birth. “He’s perfect….just perfect…” is what he told me about Skyler. He was perfect, and a gift…. now and his brother’s are angels…

My friend Scott would not have done this, so the man who he became that day, or in the months or year prior, is a stranger to me. Scott stood up for domestic violence victims in the past when I knew him, namely myself, after many incidents I had gone through with my exhusband. Scott never indicated to me that he was a danger to any children, much less his own…. but then again, he wasn’t in the same set of circumstances at the time I was around. Losing everything can lead to desperation. I don’t know what the situation was with his marriage falling apart or domestic violence, I wasn’t there. He hadn’t called or talked to me much over the last few years, and I wish he had. Maybe it would’ve helped.

Maybe nothing could’ve helped and it was inevitable. Maybe he reached a breaking point of some kind for whatever reason, I don’t know…. but it wasn’t something that the Scott I knew would have done without something catastrophic…

Now, my heart goes out to Kari, wherever you are, girl, i love you and so does all the folks from D-Town and we’re all praying for you and keeping you close in our thoughts. Get in touch if you need anything … email me at itsalmosttuesday@gmail.com … and don’t listen to the haters. They don’t understand or know you. Nobody can judge another without having been in their shoes, even Scott. THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION for hurting those babies, but there is much strength in your willingness to come forth with forgiveness, that is an act of great strength… forgiveness is not about the person who did the harm, it is about your own healing.

How do I reconcile my grief for my friend with the shock of the acts he committed against his babies?!

How? Its difficult.

I pray for his soul.

I pray for the families and for Kari.

I wish I’d had more time to know Skyler and Canyon.

I grieve:

sort of….

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THE CONSTITUTION AS THE FUNDAMENTAL & PARAMOUNT LAW OF THE NATION

U.S. Supreme Court COOPER v. AARON, 358 U.S. 1 (1958) 358

U.S. 1 COOPER ET AL., MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS, INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL.

v. AARON ET AL.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT. Fn No. 1.

Argued September 11, 1958. Decided September 12, 1958.

Opinion announced September 29, 1958.

…Article VI of the Constitution makes the Constitution the “supreme Law of the Land.” In 1803, Chief Justice Marshall, speaking for a unanimous Court, referring to the Constitution as “the fundamental and paramount law of the nation,” declared in the notable case of Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177, that “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” This decision declared the basic principle that the federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution, and that principle has ever since been respected by this Court and the Country as a permanent and indispensable feature of our constitutional system. It follows that the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment enunciated by this Court in the Brown case is the supreme law of the land, and Art. VI of the Constitution makes it of binding effect on the States “any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” Every state legislator and executive and judicial officer is solemnly committed by oath taken pursuant to Art. VI, cl. 3, “to support this Constitution.” Chief Justice Taney, speaking for a unanimous Court in 1859, said that this requirement reflected the framers’ “anxiety to preserve it [the Constitution] in full force, in all its powers, and to guard against resistance to or evasion of its authority, on the part of a State . . . .”

Ableman v. Booth, 21 How. 506, 524.

No state legislator or executive or judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his undertaking to support it. Chief Justice Marshall spoke for a unanimous Court in saying that: “If the legislatures of the several states may, at will, annul the judgments of the courts of the United States, and destroy the rights acquired under those judgments, the constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery . . . .” United States v. Peters, 5 Cranch 115, 136.

A Governor who asserts a [358 U.S. 1, 19] power to nullify a federal court order is similarly restrained. If he had such power, said Chief Justice Hughes, in 1932, also for a unanimous Court, “it is manifest that the fiat of a state Governor, and not the Constitution of the United States, would be the supreme law of the land; that the restrictions of the Federal Constitution upon the exercise of state power would be but impotent phrases . . . .” Sterling v. Constantin, 287 U.S. 378, 397-398….

We have forwarded these excerpts from Sup. Ct. decisions to our big list for your information. The American Coalition for Fathers and Children For Membership information call 1-800-978-DADS, or see ACFC’s homepage at: http://www.acfc.org American Fathers Coalition – 2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Ste. 148 Washington, D.C. 20006 1-800-978-DADS (3237) afc@capaccess.org http://www.erols.com/afc Subject: On Fundamental Rights & Mocking The Constitution

In condensing the collection of decisions, it came to me that we are obsessed with the rights of the individual, while at the same time forgetting that one person’s rights become another person’s burden. Yet, all of the intelligent and clever legal and constitutional arguments that are being made have one underlying concern. They are made to demonstrate the presence or absence of the validity that one’s right’s can be made to be inferior to another one’s. At the base of all of this is that no-one exists in isolation. We all are parts (or at least should be) of systems that themselves are parts of levels in a hierarchy of systems comprising civilization.

The very foundation of the whole hierarchy of civilization is the group of social systems made up by these systems: husband-wife; parent-child; sibling-sibling; the family comprised of all of them; and, last but not least, the system of the extended family. Some have recognized that and the one very profound truth arising out that fact: any system is greater than the sum of its parts, but only then if all of the parts interleave, communicate, mesh and function well with one another. All of these clever arguments ignore one important aspect. That is the obligations of an individual to the social systems of which he is a member.

Thereby we ignore the needs and rights of all systems within society, because to demand one’s rights requires that someone else is obliged to grant them. By ignoring obligations, each entity will feel entitled to enforce its rights, if necessary, to the extent that it will rob others of theirs. What we have then is not a well-functioning society anymore that is better than the sum of its parts, but rather a conglomerate of entities, or better yet, a mob – at worst, the end of civilization as we know it. It appears that the best legal minds have not come to terms with that truth, or else they would not be so terribly confused as appears to be the case in the bewildering array of judgments relating to the basic social system of society: the family. Would it be totally unrealistic to ask our legal minds to consider not only whether the state might have rights that are superior to those of the individual, but to think of the family unit in terms of a legal entity that has rights as well – with obligations and rights in relation to both, all of its members and the state?

Would it be totally strange to ask our legislators to consider addressing the rights and liberties of the family and, in connection with that, the obligations that an individual has toward the family and the state? Consider what would happen if we were to build the only one of the Ten Commandments that contains a promise as a constraint into constitutional rights: “Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Why are we surprised and dismayed that we can’t do well without it? Are we truly that smart that we can afford to ignore the wisdom that civilization lived by for thousands of years? -WHS

Additional reading:

The Charter Revolution & The Court Party Seizing children — a tactic for the destruction of the family and to attain state-control of the population Throughout history, rampant child apprehensions and state-ownership of children went hand-in-hand with totalitarian regimes and tyrannies.

Antiquity

— The apprehension of children – boys – in antiquity 20th Century — Evolution of the Hitler Youth …in a series of coldly and shrewdly calculated moves, radical extremists usurped the youth movement that was very much splintered along political and religious ideological lines and consolidated it into a unified and rigorously controlled sector of the German population. The slogan that motivated the Nazi leaders was an adaptation of a slogan attributed to Napoleon “Who controls the youths controls the future!” (Wer die Jugend hat, hat die Zukunft), although its origins go back to Socrates (whom Plato, in Republic, has offer this advice to philosopher kings: “Take all the children from their parents and rid the city of adults.”), and, as the history of Ancient Greece shows with respect to Sparta, even farther back in antiquity.

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THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BE A PARENT
(from an article published in The Liberator)  From Dave Usher usher@mo.net Thanks to Murray Steinberg for sharing these with us.

U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

Our legal minds will put the cites below to good use.

Please feel free to share them with your attorney. For future reference, these are being added to the ACFC legal cites page. – ACFC Loss of First Amendment Freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.

Though First Amendment rights are not absolute, they may be curtailed only by interests of vital importance, the burden of proving which rests on the government. Elrod v. Burns, 96 S.Ct. 2673; 427 U.S. 347, (1976).

The United States Supreme Court noted that a parent’s right to “the companionship, care, custody and management of his or her children” is an interest “far more precious” than any property right. May v. Anderson, 345 U.S. 528, 533; 73 S.Ct. 840, 843, (1952).

The Court (U.S. Supreme Court) stressed, “the parent-child relationship is an important interest that undeniably warrants deference and, absent a powerful countervailing interest, protection.”

A parent’s interest in the companionship, care, custody and management of his or her children rises to a constitutionally secured right, given the centrality of family life as the focus for personal meaning and responsibility. Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651; 92 S.Ct. 1208, (1972)

The U.S. Supreme Court implied that “a (once) married father who is separated or divorced from a mother and is no longer living with his child” could not constitutionally be treated differently from a currently married father living with his child. Quilloin v. Walcott, 98 S.Ct. 549; 434 U.S. 246, 255-56, (1978)

Law and court procedures that are “fair on their faces” but administered “with an evil eye or a heavy hand” was discriminatory and violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, (1886)

The Constitution also protects “the individual interest in avoiding disclosure of personal matters.” Federal Courts (and State Courts), under Griswold can protect, under the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” phrase of the Declaration of Independence, the right of a man to enjoy the mutual care, company, love and affection of his children, and this cannot be taken away from him without due process of law.

There is a family right to privacy which the state cannot invade or it becomes actionable for civil rights damages. Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, (1965) Parent’s right to custody of child is a right encompassed within protection of this amendment which may not be interfered with under guise of protection public interest by legislative action which is arbitrary or without reasonable relation to some purpose within competency of state to effect. Reynold v. Baby Fold, Inc., 369 NE 2d 858; 68 Ill 2d 419, appeal dismissed 98 S.Ct. 1598, 435 U.S. 963, Il, (1977)

Parent’s rights have been recognized as being “essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free man.” Meyer v. Nebraska, 92 S.Ct. 1208, (1972)

Reality of private biases and possible injury they might inflict were impermissible considerations under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Palmore v. Sidoti, 104 S.Ct. 1879; 466 U.S. 429

Legislative classifications which distributes benefits and burdens on the basis of gender carry the inherent risk of reinforcing stereotypes about the proper place of women and their need for special protection; thus, even statutes purportedly designed to compensate for and ameliorate the effects of past discrimination against women must be carefully tailored… the state cannot be permitted to classify on the basis of sex. Orr v. Orr, 99 S.Ct. 1102; 4340 U.S. 268 (1979)

The United States Supreme Court held that the “old notion” that “generally it is the man’s primary responsibility to provide a home and its essentials” can no longer justify a statute that discriminates on the basis of sex. No longer is the female destined solely for the homes and the rearing of the family, and only the male for the marketplace and the world of ideas. Stanton v. Stanton, 421 U.S. 7, 10; 95 S.Ct. 1373, 1376 (1975)

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that severance in the parent-child relationship caused by the state occur only with rigorous protections for individual liberty interests at stake. Bell v. City of Milwaukee, 746 F 2d 1205: U.S. Ct. App. 7th Cir. WI., (1984)

COMPELLING STATE INTEREST

The following Supreme Court decisions were cited in a published opinion by Chief judge Norman K. Moon of Court of Appeals of Virginia June 3, 1997 in the case Williams and Williams v. Williams and Williams 24 Va. App. 778; 485 S.E. 2d 651 (June 3, 1997)

Even when blood relationships are strained, parents retain vital interest in preventing irretrievable destruction of their family life; if anything, persons faced with forced dissolution of their parental rights have more critical need for procedural protections than do those resisting state intervention into ongoing family affairs.

The Supreme Court noted its “historical recognition that freedom of personal choice in matters of family life is a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Santosky v. Kramer, 102 S.Ct. 1388; 455 U.S. 745, (1982).

In applying the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment, the United States Supreme Court has held that “[w]here certain fundamental rights are involved… regulation limiting these rights may be justified only by a ‘compelling state interest’ …and …legislative enactments must be narrowly drawn to express only the legitimate state interests at stake. State interference with a fundamental right must by justified by a “compelling state interest.” Roe v. Wade. 410 U.S. 113, 155 ; 93 S.Ct. 705; 35 L Ed 2d 147, (1973)

State’s power to legislate, adjudicate and administer all aspects of family law, including determinations of custodial and visitation rights, is subject to scrutiny by federal judiciary within reach of due process and/or equal protection clause of 14th Amendment… fourteenth Amendment applied to states through specific rights contained in the first eight amendments of the Constitution which declares fundamental personal rights… Fourteenth Amendment encompasses and applied to states those pre-existing fundamental rights recognized by the Ninth Amendment.

The Ninth Amendment acknowledged the prior existence of fundamental rights with it: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

The United States Supreme Court in a long line of decisions, has recognized that matters involving marriage, procreation, and the parent-child relationship are among those fundamental “liberty” interests protected by the Constitution.

Thus, the decision in Roe v. Wade, as recently described by the Supreme Court as founded on the “Constitutional underpinning of… a recognition that the “liberty” protected by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment includes not only the freedoms explicitly mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but also a freedom of personal choice in certain matters of marriage and family life.” While this court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed [by the Fourteenth Amendment] …

Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399 (1923).

In addition to recognizing as a fundamental liberty interest the right of parents to raise their children, the Supreme Court has also established that the Constitution’s guarantee to fundamental privacy rights also embodies a fundamental right to parental autonomy in child rearing. The Court acknowledged a “private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.” Prince v. Massachusetts, 3210 U.S. 158, 166 (1944); Moore v. City of East Cleveland, 431-U.S. 494 (1977)

The Supreme Court has clearly established that to constitute a compelling interest, state interference with a parent’s right to raise his or her child must be for the purpose of protecting the child’s health or welfare. Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 230 (1972)

Father enjoys the right to associate with his children which is guaranteed by this amendment (First) as incorporated in Amendment 14, or which is embodied in the concept of “liberty” as that word is used in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Mabra v. Schmidt, 356 F Supp 620: D.C., WI (1973)

SUPPORTING FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT DECISIONS

The rights of parents to care, custody and nurture of their children is of such character that it cannot be denied without violating those fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions, and such right is a fundamental right protected by this amendment (First) and Amendments 5, 9, and 14. Doe v. Irwin , 440 F Supp 1247; U.S.D.C. of Michigan, (1985)

Parent’s interest in custody of her children is a liberty interest which has received considerable constitutional protection; a parent who is deprived of custody of his or her child, even though temporarily, suffers thereby grievous loss and such loss deserves extensive due process protection. In the Interest of Cooper, 621 P 2d 437: 5 Kansas App Div 2d 584, (1980)

A parent’s right to the preservation of his relationship with his child derives from the fact that the parent’s achievement of a rich and rewarding life is likely to depend significantly on his ability to participate in the rearing of his children. A child’s corresponding right to protection from interference in the relationship derives from the psychic importance to him of being raised by a loving, responsible, reliable adult. Franz v. U.S., 707 F 2d 582, 58-95-599; U.S. Ct. App. (1983)

The liberty interest of the family encompasses an interest in retaining custody of one’s children and, thus a state may not interfere with a parent’s custodial rights absent due process protections. Langton v. Maloney, 527 F Supp 538, D.C. Conn. (1981)

A parent’s right to the custody of his or her children is an element of “liberty” guaranteed by the 5th Amendment and the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Matter of Gentry, 369 NW 2d 889, MI App. Div. (1983)

The parent-child relationship is a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Bell v. City of Milwaukee, 746 F 2d 1205, 1242-45; U.S. Ct. App 7th Cir. WI. No bond is more precious and none should be more zealously protected by the law as the bond between parent and child. Carson v. Elrod, 411 F Supp 645, 649; DC E.D. VA (1976)

The non-custodial divorced parent has no way to implement the constitutionally protected right to maintain a parental relationship with his child except through visitation. To acknowledge the protected status of the relationship as the majority does, and yet deny protection under Title 42 USC Section 1983, to visitation, which is the exclusive means of effecting that right, is to negate the right completely. Wise v. Bravo, 666 F 2d 1328, (1981)

The rights of parents to parent-child relationships are recognized and upheld. Fantony v. Fantony, 122 A 2d 593, (1956); Brennan v. Brennan, 454 A 2d 901, (1982) U.S. Supreme Court It would seem that the Constitution is violated more than it is honored in matters involving domestic relations. -AFC

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Whose Children Are They Anyway?

Whose Children Are They, Anyway?

By: Gregory A. Hession, J.D
June 23, 2008
How does a state child protective services agency even begin to take nearly 500 children from families living in a peaceful religious community in West Texas?
Answer: a night-time raid with tanks, riot police, SWAT teams, snipers, and cars full of Texas Rangers and sheriff’s deputies.
That is the new face of state child protection — social workers backed up with automatic weapons.
In a surprise attack coordinated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) on April 3-4, the Rangers and sheriffs removed an initial group of the 468 children at the Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ) in Eldorado, Texas. The raid was initiated with a court order — not a warrant — authorizing them only to have “investigatory access” to a particular teenage mother and her child, neither of whom actually existed. Soon thereafter, the rest of the 468 children were removed, with over a thousand government agents participating in the raids at a cost of nearly $2.3 million according to the Associated Press. The basis for taking these children was a false report to a child-abuse hotline that a teen girl was being forced into an underage marriage at the YFZ Ranch, owing to beliefs of their Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) religion.

This article does not attempt to analyze the FLDS religious belief system, nor does it endorse or disapprove of it. The issue of taking children from any family — regardless of its ideology — must be governed by law and due process, not hysteria over religious or political beliefs fanned by a statist press corps.

It will be useful to chronicle the actions of the Texas child protection agency in the FLDS case — based on my review of the actual court documents, case plan, affidavits of the social workers, warrants, and detailed written accounts of the two-day hearing in court — with a critical eye to see how these same tactics are used in individual actions against innocent families nationwide. Thus, families can be prepared to defend themselves against false allegations of abuse, and not become victims like the children of the FLDS group.

State Child Protection, Wholesale Version
The Texas DFPS first got involved with the families at the Yearning for Zion Ranch when a woman from Colorado phoned a report to the Texas child-abuse hotline on March 29. This woman, Rozita Swinton, age 33, falsely identified herself as a 16-year-old named “Sarah,” from the YFZ Ranch, and stated that she had an eight-month-old child, and was pregnant again by her 50-year-old husband. This Colorado call originated from a person known to be a serial false reporter with a criminal record for making false reports. However, the agency used it to seize on the opportunity that they apparently had been waiting for — a plausible excuse to raid this ranch.

This fraud points to the widespread potential for manipulation in the child-abuse-hotline reporting system. Any disgruntled neighbor, angry ex-spouse or boyfriend, roommate, or enemy can make an anonymous false report and be believed. A mere allegation from such a person will prompt the agency to literally knock down the door to get into a home to check on the children. If and when the agency figures out it has been played for a chump and has improperly brought down the entire weight of the law on an innocent family, a great deal of harm has already been done, as is the case with the children at the YFZ Ranch.

Once the DFPS agency had the false report from “Sarah,” it enlisted legions of law-enforcement personnel and carried out the April 3 military-style raid of the YFZ Ranch starting at 9:00 p.m., without a warrant or a court order. Published photographs show that the Texas Rangers and sheriffs used armored personnel carriers, snipers, and riot gear to force their entry. Once in, agents of the DFPS carried out interviews of parents and children throughout the night and into the next day, and the agents took trucks-full of documents.

The agency readily determined that there was no “Sarah” at the ranch, and no “husband” abusing her. In fact, court records indicate that the agency found no credible evidence of any abuse whatsoever in any home at the YFZ Ranch. However, as the night-time raid stretched into the following day, officials proceeded to remove all 468 children at the ranch from their homes, most under the age of five, starting at 3:00 a.m. Texas law allows removal of a child only if “there is an immediate danger to the physical health or safety of the child,” or if it is clear that “the child has been the victim of sexual abuse.” (Tex. Fam. Code, Sect. 262.104(a))

One can imagine the terror that these babies and toddlers felt being ripped from their mothers in the middle of the night by armed strangers. The abducted children were then farmed out to various foster homes around the state, separated from parents and split off from their siblings. This allowed the state to begin accessing large federal reimbursements for foster care, and to unleash an army of social workers, therapists, and state lawyers.

Next, the state put on a show trial on April 17 and 18, to officially verify that the children needed to be rescued from their parents. This hearing was conducted in the District Court for Schleicher County in San Angelo, Texas, presided over by Judge Barbara Walther. Press accounts described the trial with headlines like, “Chaos Rules at Sect Trial,” as could be expected at a proceeding involving 468 children, their parents, and their lawyers. To make matters worse, prior to the trial, the judge had issued a separate order confiscating all the cellphones belonging to both the children and their parents, so that they could not even talk to their lawyers or to each other.

The gist of the state’s complaint was that female children at the ranch were being groomed for marriage to older men at too young an age and that male children were being encouraged to be sexual predators. The agency asserted that 31 children, aged 14 to 17, were pregnant or had borne children by adults. However, the agency now admits that over half of those 31 persons are actually adults, including one who is 27 years old. At the time of the hearing, the agency could not identify a single child married below the legal age, including the nonexistent “Sarah.” (Texas law allows marriage at age 16, or younger with court approval.) Nor was there testimony that any person was physically abused at the ranch.

The DFPS argued, as a reason to take the children, that “there is a mindset that even the young girls report that they will marry at whatever age, and that it’s the highest blessing they can have to have children.” Thus, in the agency’s view, inculcating respect for motherhood is “abuse.”

A review of the trial transcript shows that the judge made no pretense of providing due process, or of trying to decide the cases on an individual basis. Key evidence included a recommendation from a psychiatrist that the children not be returned to their homes, a psychiatrist who admitted that he got most of his information from the media and had never spoken to the leaders of the community. Several DFPS supervisors also testified, repeating the party line about abuse, although they could not cite any instance of it. The state also failed to provide evidence, as required by both federal and state law, that it had made reasonable efforts to keep the children with their parents prior to removing them.

After the two-day preliminary trial, and without hearing any evidence of abuse and neglect, the judge ruled that the DFPS would keep custody of all the children.

After the agency secured possession of the children, they then imposed a case service plan on each parent, which was put together by “culturally sensitive” experts. The plan, which pre-supposes abuse, sets forth tasks that the parents must do, such as taking parenting classes and undergoing psychological evaluations. In reality, these plans contain boilerplate provisions that are primarily designed to provide information to the agency to use at the final trial against the parents — a tactic I’ve seen repeatedly in my legal representation of families torn apart by the so-called child-protection services.

A cover letter of the “plan” contained the following statement: “CPS’s [Child Protective Service’s] investigation of the Yearning for Zion Ranch found evidence under Texas law of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Because of what CPS found, CPS removed your child from the ranch. After a hearing, the judge agreed with CPS’s belief that your child was not safe from abuse. The judge gave CPS temporary custody of you [sic] child.”

Happy Ending Elusive
A crack in the foundation of the case came after several of the FLDS parents petitioned the Texas Appeals Court, which quickly overturned the district-court custody order, and threatened to act if the court “failed to comply.” The May 22, 2008, opinion was unflinching in its condemnation of the agency’s actions. The court found that there was no evidence that male children or pre-pubescent females were in any danger of abuse. There was no evidence as to whether the small number of pregnant teens — five in all — were married or were victims of abuse. The court stated bluntly that “there was no evidence of any physical abuse or harm to any other child.”

The appeals court also noted that DFPS had not “made reasonable efforts to eliminate or prevent the removal of any … children.” The district court had made a perfunctory certification that such reasonable efforts were made, but that was exposed as a false finding by the appeals court.

The appeals-court ruling was a huge public embarrassment for the agency and a repudiation of the DFPS position. The agency was certainly not going to allow the largest child-protection case in United States history to be thwarted without a fight, so it immediately appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas. In a brief five-page opinion, the highest court affirmed that the appeals court was correct when it overturned the district-court order, for the same reasons, i.e., that there was no evidence of abuse. The opinion stated tersely, “On the record before us, the removal of the children was not warranted.”

Despite these state high-court rulings, the agency and the district court are placing numerous restrictions and qualifications on the children’s return. The district court is keeping the case open and demanding that parents cede much of their family liberty and privacy as a price for getting their children back.

DFPS has prepared a draft court order for Judge Walther’s signature that requires that parents let DFPS agents enter their homes at any time to inspect them, and allows the DFPS to order psychological testing for the children and parents, as well as to obtain medical exams of the children at any time and place. The agency wants no family member to travel more than 60 miles from home and desires photo identification of all parents and children. The form parents must sign before release of their children chillingly states: “By my signature … I accepted physical possession of the above-referenced child for the Department of Family and Protective Services.” This is a raw power grab, and it is unclear whether or how the higher court might react to this apparent contempt of its order.

But That’s the Way We Always Do It

The tactics perpetrated on the YFZ families are the same ones that CPS uses in almost every child-protection removal case nationwide: insufficient investigation, a superficial initial hearing, a boilerplate case plan whose real purpose is to provide evidence to the agency, splitting children in foster care and moving them far from family, a low standard of proof for abuse, and failure to use reasonable efforts to avoid removal from the home, among others.

What turned this situation around was the extensive publicity that exposed the normally hidden agency wrongdoing. These revelations forced the higher court to reverse the rulings of the agency and of the lower court, which was acting as a puppet of the agency. If each of these 468 cases had been adjudicated individually, hidden from public scrutiny in secret courtrooms as the law provides, the agency might have won most of them, despite having no evidence.

As of this writing, the YFZ families have won an important round in their fight, by getting the Texas Supreme Court to order the return of their children. As of Monday, June 2, the judge had signed a temporary order allowing return of the children to their families, with the many restrictions outlined above.

This temporary order will be in place only until a full trial of the matter, or until the agency comes up with more reasons to take the children away again. It is uncertain what the ultimate outcome of this case will be. The matter could end in a trial, the outcome of which could be anything from full vindication of the parents and dismissal of the case, to a permanent removal and adoption of all the children. Or the Texas DFPS could ultimately decide that it acted without a basis, and ask the court to dismiss the case. Nothing is predictable in child-protection cases, but it should be. The reluctance of District Court Judge Walther to follow the law and provide due process for the affected families compounds the problem.

It is easy to get caught up in the media hype regarding the alleged practices of this religious sect, and thus consider the removal of their children necessary or justified. However, our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the right to direct the upbringing of one’s children without government interference, in absence of criminal action. All parents are entitled to due process prior to having their children taken, and this was not provided by either the agency or the court. If the state can take children without due process from this religious group, then it can take them from anyone whose religious or personal beliefs are disfavored by the state.

This episode should be a warning to all families that an arbitrary attack by the state against a family can happen to any of us and that a court will likely not protect the family from overreaching state social workers or false reports of child abuse.

Gregory A. Hession practices constitutional and family law in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Original Article-

Whose Children Are They, Anyway? – SlideFrame_1

cps
Its Almost Tuesday’s Been Offline – Sorry About Slow Posts

I would like to thank everyone for your interest in our children and the events that occur each day in our system with regard to families all over our country.

This type of work is very difficult to endure on a daily basis.  Add to it real life, and personal struggles, and sometimes, life gets in its own way…

My sincerest apologies for the slow posts, life has simply gotten in the way, causing a brief interruption in internet services, and It’s Almost Tuesday’s brief pause in updates and articles.

I’m glad to say the month of May is over.   That is the anniversary month that i lost my son, and a very difficult time of year for me.  Its over, I survived, yet another year to keep going and its hard sometimes to keep on going… especially when I fight against my own worst enemy – myself –

Please continue to check in and bear with me as I will keep on truckin’…. and I will keep reporting what I see, hear, and learn, that involves the most important part of all our lives – our future – our children.

I miss my son. I miss my daughter.

But despite all the losses, there is a new addition coming next month – I’m going to be grandmother for the first time, to a precious little granddaughter who is due next month to my one and only firstborn daughter, who I love more than anything.  So its a busy summer, bear with me, and if anyone is interested in being a guest author or helping me out, please contact me at itsalmosttuesday@gmail.com with ideas and/or reference material or resumes.

Thank you. Godspeed.

child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, education, family, foster care, General, government, system failure
Over 1300 online petitioners say judicial actions in FLDS case is deserving of impeachment

Click Here to view the 1385 Online Petition Signatures to Impeach Texas District Judge Barbara Walther Over FLDS Fiasco

Published by Daniel T. Weaver on Jun 01, 2008
Category: Government/Law
Region: United States of America
Target: State of Texas
Description/History:
Texas Judge Barbara Walther authorized the removal of more than 400 children from an FLDS compound in Texas and their placement in foster care.

Both an appellate court and the Texas Supreme Court have ruled that the children and parents must be reunified. Even now Judge Walther is blocking the reunification by attempting to get parents to sign agreements with Child Protective Services before they can be reunited with their children.

Barbara Walther’s actions constitute one of the greatest violation of constitutional rights in the State of Texas and she should be impeached and removed from office. This petition will be forwarded to Texas lawmakers after enough signatures are collected.

Signing this petition does not mean that you necessarily support the FLDS and their religious views.

(This petition was created by a third party who is not necessarily affiliated with nor is this petition the true reflection of the opinion of It’s Almost Tuesday – the views and opinions of this Petition is wholly its own, and independent of Its Almost Tuesday.  We are simply sharing the petition’s information for those who wish to sign it.)

Petition:

Whereas Texas 51st District Judge Barbara Walther has violated the constitutional rights of more than 400 children and their parents of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Church (FLDS);

and whereas Judge Barbara Walther took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Texas and has violated that oath;

and whereas both an appellate court and the Texas Supreme Court have sided with the FLDS children and their parents against Judge Barbara Walther;

and whereas the actions of Judge Barbara Walther have resulted in a great financial cost to the State of Texas and its taxpayers;

and whereas Judge Barbara Walther’s actions constitute one of the greatest violations of constitutional rights in the history of the State of Texas;

and whereas Judge Barbara Walther should have known ahead of time that what she was doing was unconstitutional, since the Island Pond Raid in the State of Vermont in 1984 was almost identical, and there are other similar cases on record where judges refused to support unconstitutional raids by Child Protective Services;

and whereas Judge Barbara Walther has impeded the reunification of parents with their children, even after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that they should be reunified;

we ask that proceedings begin immediately for the impeachment of District Judge Barbara Walther of the State of Texas.

Click Here to Sign the petition

The Impeach Texas District Judge Barbara Walther Over FLDS Fiasco petition to State of Texas was written by Daniel T. Weaver and is hosted free of charge at GoPetition.

please promote this petition

 

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, education, family, General, government, law
ACP Offers Freedom For Abuse Victims in Texas

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.590626&w=325&h=250&fv=]

 

 

more about “Corpus Christi, TX | KRISTV.COM |Texa…“, posted with vodpod

 

I left my abuser…but he keeps coming after me… nobody was there to stop him…so I went back…

If I leave him, he’ll just come find me… so I might as well stay…”

 

I’m afraid to stay home alone… my ex might show up one day if he finds out where I am….”

 

Its been ten years and still I keep the shades closed on the windows, always wondering if he’s out there…”

 

Climbing out broken windows may be the only way to get to safety…

But now, the state of Texas wants to help keep victims of abuse safe once they do leave the abuse…by keeping residential addresses confidential & forwarding abuse victim’s mail to their safe location.

I don’t live in fear anymore…

 

I cleaned my house with the windows open for the first time in years …”

I’m free…. I finally feel like I’ve

gotten my life back…

 

Thank you ACP!

 

Under a new statewide program, Texans who are the victims of stalkers, sexual assault or family violence crimes can now make their home addresses confidential.

State Attorney General Gregg Abbott outlined the new program on Monday, which is designed to protect their privacy and help keep them safe.People who are eligible can sign up to have the Crime Victim Services Division of the Attorney General’s office designate a substitute address for them.

 

 

 

The division will receive the mail, process it, and then forward it to the participant’s actual address.

The substitute addresses can be used on voter and school registration cards, driver’s licenses and most government documents, including court records.

For more information about the Address Confidentiality Program or to learn more about the eligibility criteria, contact the program at ( 512 ) 936-1750 or ( 888 ) 832-2322.

You can also visit the agency’s web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

This is a wonderful program I recommend for all 50 states – I was a member of this program in another state until I moved back to Texas where they did not have the program in place. Had this program been in place in Texas when my ex found, stalked and utlimately planned and assisted in abducting my son, I may have never lost my little boy.

 

 

 

 

Attorney General Abbott Announces Confidential Address Program For Crime Victims

Victims of family violence, stalking and sexual assault can register for anonymous address

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced that family violence, stalking and sexual assault victims may be eligible to participate in a new, state-sponsored address confidentiality program. Eligible Texans can register for an anonymous address that will appear on voter and school registration cards, driver’s licenses, and most government documents, including court records.

The Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services Division will designate a substitute address for eligible victims; receive service of process and mail for the participants; and forward mail to participants’ actual address. During the 80th Legislative Session, Sen. Eddie Lucio authored legislation creating the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), which authorizes the attorney general to provide this service to crime victims.

“Texas family violence, stalking and sexual assault victims can now obtain a confidential address that will help them protect their privacy and keep them secure,” Attorney General Abbott said. “We are grateful to the victim assistance organizations that partnered with us to ensure this program provides the meaningful protections intended by the Legislature.”

Applicants must meet with a local domestic violence shelter, sexual assault center, law enforcement, or prosecution staff member to discuss a safety plan and learn more about the enrollment process. To get contact information for local shelters, access the Texas Council on Family Violence Web site at www.tcfv.org or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE. To contact local sexual assault centers, access the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault Web site at www.taasa.org or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656- HOPE. Meeting with a victim advocate is vital to this process and required by law.

Sheryl Cates, chief executive officer of the TCFV and the National Domestic Violence Hotline praised the new program: “The ACP is yet another valuable tool available to victims of family violence in protecting themselves from the perpetrators who abuse them. We are grateful to General Abbott and his staff for seeking input from the Texas Council on Family Violence and many other domestic violence service providers in the development of ACP guidelines.”

Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of TAASA, added: “Rape is a crime that removes control from a victim; this measure provides one additional avenue for restoring that control.

TAASA is proud to have worked with the Legislature, the Attorney General and other victim advocacy organizations to see this important program through to fruition and we’re hopeful that survivors of sexual violence, stalking and domestic violence will find this a helpful tool on their path to recovery.”

 
 

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

  AN ACT
  relating to the creation of an address confidentiality program to
  assist victims of family violence, sexual assault, or stalking in
  maintaining confidential addresses.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 56, Code of Criminal Procedure, is
  amended by adding Subchapter C to read as follows:
  SUBCHAPTER C. ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF
  FAMILY VIOLENCE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, OR STALKING
         Art. 56.81.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
               (1)  “Applicant” means a person who applies to
  participate in the program.
               (2)  “Family violence” has the meaning assigned by
  Section 71.004, Family Code.
               (3)  “Family violence shelter center” has the meaning
  assigned by Section 51.002, Human Resources Code.
               (4)  “Mail” means first class mail and any mail sent by
  a government agency. The term does not include a package,
  regardless of size or type of mailing.
               (5)  “Participant” means an applicant who is certified
  for participation in the program.
               (6)  “Program” means the address confidentiality
  program created under this subchapter.
         Art. 56.82.  ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROGRAM. (a)  The
  attorney general shall establish an address confidentiality
  program, as provided by this subchapter, to assist a victim of
  family violence or an offense under Section 22.011, 22.021, 25.02,
  or 42.072, Penal Code, in maintaining a confidential address.
         (b)  The attorney general shall:
               (1)  designate a substitute post office box address
  that a participant may use in place of the participant’s true
  residential, business, or school address;
               (2)  act as agent to receive service of process and mail
  on behalf of the participant; and
               (3)  forward to the participant mail received by the
  office of the attorney general on behalf of the participant.
         (c)  A summons, writ, notice, demand, or process may be
  served on the attorney general on behalf of the participant by
  delivery of two copies of the document to the office of the attorney
  general. The attorney general shall retain a copy of the summons,
  writ, notice, demand, or process and forward the original to the
  participant not later than the third day after the date of service
  on the attorney general.
         (d)  The attorney general shall make and retain a copy of the
  envelope in which certified mail is received on behalf of the
  participant.
         Art. 56.83.  ELIGIBILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN PROGRAM. (a)  To
  be eligible to participate in the program, an applicant must:
               (1)  meet with a victim’s assistance counselor from a
  state or local agency or other entity designated by the attorney
  general under Article 56.92 and receive orientation information
  about the program;
               (2)  file an application for participation with the
  attorney general or a state or local agency or other entity
  designated by the attorney general under Article 56.92;
               (3)  designate the attorney general as agent to receive
  service of process and mail on behalf of the applicant; and
               (4)  live at a residential address, or relocate to a
  residential address, that is unknown to the person who committed or
  is alleged to have committed the family violence or an offense under
  Section 22.011, 22.021, 25.02, or 42.072, Penal Code.
         (b)  An application under Subsection (a)(2) must contain:
               (1)  a signed, sworn statement by the applicant stating
  that the applicant fears for the safety of the applicant, the
  applicant’s child, or another person in the applicant’s household
  because of a threat of immediate or future harm caused by the person
  who committed or is alleged to have committed the family violence or
  an offense under Section 22.011, 22.021, 25.02, or 42.072, Penal
  Code;
               (2)  the applicant’s true residential address and, if
  applicable, the applicant’s business and school addresses; and
               (3)  a statement by the applicant of whether there is an
  existing court order or a pending court case for child support or
  child custody or visitation that involves the applicant and, if so,
  the name and address of:
                     (A)  the legal counsel of record; and
                     (B)  each parent involved in the court order or
  pending case.
         (c)  An application under Subsection (a)(2) must be
  completed by the applicant in person at the state or local agency or
  other entity with which the application is filed.  An applicant who
  knowingly or intentionally makes a false statement in an
  application under Subsection (a)(2) is subject to prosecution under
  Chapter 37, Penal Code.
         (d)  A state or local agency or other entity with which an
  application is filed under Subsection (a)(2) shall forward the
  application to the office of the attorney general.
         (e)  The attorney general by rule may establish additional
  eligibility requirements for participation in the program that are
  consistent with the purpose of the program as stated in Article
  56.82(a).  The attorney general may establish procedures for
  requiring an applicant, in appropriate circumstances, to submit
  with the application under Subsection (a)(2) independent
  documentary evidence of family violence or an offense under Section
  22.011, 22.021, 25.02, or 42.072, Penal Code, in the form of:
               (1)  an active or recently issued protective order;
               (2)  an incident report or other record maintained by a
  law enforcement agency or official;
               (3)  a statement of a physician or other health care
  provider regarding the applicant’s medical condition as a result of
  the family violence or offense; or
               (4)  a statement of a mental health professional, a
  member of the clergy, an attorney or other legal advocate, a trained
  staff member of a family violence center, or another professional
  who has assisted the applicant in addressing the effects of the
  family violence or offense.
         (f)  Any assistance or counseling provided by the attorney
  general or an employee or agent of the attorney general to an
  applicant does not constitute legal advice.
         Art. 56.84.  CERTIFICATION; EXPIRATION. (a)  The attorney
  general shall certify for participation in the program an applicant
  who satisfies the eligibility requirements under Article 56.83.
         (b)  A certification under this article expires on the third
  anniversary of the date of certification.
         Art. 56.85.  RENEWAL. To renew a certification under
  Article 56.84, a participant must satisfy the eligibility
  requirements under Article 56.83 as if the participant were
  originally applying for participation in the program.
         Art. 56.86.  INELIGIBILITY AND CANCELLATION. (a)  An
  applicant is ineligible for, and a participant may be excluded
  from, participation in the program if the applicant or participant
  knowingly makes a false statement on an application filed under
  Article 56.83(a)(2).
         (b)  A participant may be excluded from participation in the
  program if:
               (1)  mail forwarded to the participant by the attorney
  general is returned undeliverable on at least four occasions;
               (2)  the participant changes the participant’s true
  residential address as provided in the application filed under
  Article 56.83(a)(2) and does not notify the attorney general of the
  change at least 10 days before the date of the change; or
               (3)  the participant changes the participant’s name.
         Art. 56.87.  WITHDRAWAL. A participant may withdraw from
  the program by notifying the attorney general in writing of the
  withdrawal.
         Art. 56.88.  CONFIDENTIALITY; DESTRUCTION OF INFORMATION.
  (a)  Information relating to a participant:
               (1)  is confidential, except as provided by Article
  56.90; and
               (2)  may not be disclosed under Chapter 552, Government
  Code.
         (b)  Except as provided by Article 56.82(d), the attorney
  general may not make a copy of any mail received by the office of the
  attorney general on behalf of the participant.
         (c)  The attorney general shall destroy all information
  relating to a participant on the third anniversary of the date
  participation in the program ends.
         Art. 56.89.  ACCEPTANCE OF SUBSTITUTE ADDRESS; EXEMPTIONS.
  (a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b), a state or local agency
  must accept the substitute post office box address designated by
  the attorney general if the substitute address is presented to the
  agency by a participant in place of the participant’s true
  residential, business, or school address.
         (b)  The attorney general by rule may permit an agency to
  require a participant to provide the participant’s true
  residential, business, or school address, if necessary for the
  agency to perform a duty or function that is imposed by law or
  administrative requirement.
         Art. 56.90.  EXCEPTIONS. The attorney general:
               (1)  shall disclose a participant’s true residential,
  business, or school address if:
                     (A)  requested by:
                           (i)  a law enforcement agency; or
                           (ii)  the Department of State Health
  Services or a local health authority for the purpose of making a
  notification described by Article 21.31, Section 54.033, Family
  Code, or Section 81.051, Health and Safety Code; or
                     (B)  required by court order; and
               (2)  may disclose a participant’s true residential,
  business, or school address if:
                     (A)  the participant consents to the disclosure;
  and
                     (B)  the disclosure is necessary to administer the
  program.
         Art. 56.91.  LIABILITY. (a)  The attorney general or an
  agent or employee of the attorney general is immune from liability
  for any act or omission by the agent or employee in administering
  the program if the agent or employee was acting in good faith and in
  the course and scope of assigned responsibilities and duties.
         (b)  An agent or employee of the attorney general who does
  not act in good faith and in the course and scope of assigned
  responsibilities and duties in disclosing a participant’s true
  residential, business, or school address is subject to prosecution
  under Chapter 39, Penal Code.
         Art. 56.92.  PROGRAM ASSISTANCE. The attorney general
  shall:
               (1)  identify state and local agencies and other
  entities, whether for-profit or nonprofit, that provide counseling
  and shelter services to victims of family violence; and
               (2)  require the identified agencies to provide access
  to the program, including making program information and
  application materials available and providing assistance in
  completing program applications.
         Art. 56.93.  RULES. The attorney general shall adopt rules
  to administer the program.
         SECTION 2.  Article 56.54, Code of Criminal Procedure, is
  amended by amending Subsection (c) and adding Subsection (l) to
  read as follows:
         (c)  Except as provided by Subsections (h), [and] (i), and
  (l), the compensation to victims of crime auxiliary fund may be used
  by the attorney general only for the payment of compensation to
  claimants or victims under this subchapter.
         (l)  The attorney general may use the compensation to victims
  of crime auxiliary fund to cover costs incurred by the attorney
  general in administering the address confidentiality program
  established under Subchapter C.
         SECTION 3.  Section 18.005(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  Each original and supplemental list of registered
  voters must:
               (1)  contain the voter’s name, residence address or
  substitute post office box address, if required by Section 18.0051,
  date of birth, and registration number as provided by the statewide
  computerized voter registration list;
               (2)  be arranged alphabetically by voter name; and
               (3)  contain the notation required by Section 15.111[;
  and
               [(4)  until Section 13.122(d) expires, identify each
  voter registered by mail for the first time who failed to provide a
  copy of a document described by Section 63.0101 establishing the
  voter’s identity at the time of registration].
         SECTION 4.  Subchapter A, Chapter 18, Election Code, is
  amended by adding Section 18.0051 to read as follows:
         Sec. 18.0051.  CONTENTS OF LIST: SUBSTITUTE ADDRESS. An
  original or supplemental list of registered voters must contain a
  voter’s substitute post office box address designated by the
  attorney general under Article 56.82(b), Code of Criminal
  Procedure, for use by the voter in place of the voter’s true
  residential, business, or school address if the voter is eligible
  for early voting by mail under Section 82.007 and has submitted an
  early voting ballot application as required by Section 84.0021.
         SECTION 5.  Chapter 82, Election Code, is amended by adding
  Section 82.007 to read as follows:
         Sec. 82.007.  PARTICIPATION IN ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY
  PROGRAM. A qualified voter is eligible for early voting by mail if,
  at the time the voter’s early voting ballot application is
  submitted, the voter is certified for participation in the address
  confidentiality program administered by the attorney general under
  Chapter 56, Code of Criminal Procedure.
         SECTION 6.  Subchapter A, Chapter 84, Election Code, is
  amended by adding Section 84.0021 to read as follows:
         Sec. 84.0021.  CONTENTS OF APPLICATION FOR PARTICIPANT IN
  ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROGRAM; CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.
  (a)  An early voting ballot application submitted by a qualified
  voter who is eligible for early voting by mail under Section 82.007
  must include:
               (1)  the applicant’s name and address at which the
  applicant is registered to vote;
               (2)  the substitute post office box address designated
  by the attorney general under Article 56.82(b), Code of Criminal
  Procedure, for use by the voter in place of the voter’s true
  residential, business, or school address; and
               (3)  an indication of each election for which the
  applicant is applying for a ballot.
         (b)  The information contained in an application under this
  section relating to the address at which the applicant is
  registered to vote is confidential, except that the information
  must be disclosed if:
               (1)  requested by a law enforcement agency; or
               (2)  required by court order.
         SECTION 7.  Chapter 221, Election Code, is amended by adding
  Section 221.018 to read as follows:
         Sec. 221.018.  EXAMINATION OF CERTAIN CONFIDENTIAL
  INFORMATION. (a)  Notwithstanding Section 84.0021(b), the
  tribunal hearing an election contest may examine the information
  contained in an application under Section 84.0021 relating to the
  address at which the applicant is registered to vote.
         (b)  Information may be examined under this section only for
  the purpose of hearing an election contest.
         SECTION 8.  The attorney general shall establish the address
  confidentiality program and adopt rules to administer the program
  as required by Subchapter C, Chapter 56, Code of Criminal
  Procedure, as added by this Act, not later than June 1, 2008.
         SECTION 9.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
  a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
  provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  If this
  Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
 

Act takes effect September 1, 2007.

 

For more information about the Address Confidentiality Program or to learn more about the eligibility criteria, contact the program at (512) 936-1750 or (888) 832-2322, or visit the agency’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

STATES WHICH HAVE ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROGRAMS IMPLEMENTED FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE VICTIMS

State (year of implementation) Statute
Arkansas (2005) Ark. Stat. Ann. 27-16-810
California (1998) Cal. Govt. Code §6206
Connecticut (2004)
Florida (1998) F.S.A. §741.403
Illinois (1999) (no funding) 750 ILCS 61/
Indiana (2001) IC §5-26.5-2
Maine (2002) 5 M.S.R.A. §90-B
Massachusetts (2001) M.G.L.A. 9A §2
Nebraska (2003) Neb. Rev. Stat. §42-1201 through 42-1210
Nevada (1997) N.R.S. §217.462
New Hampshire (2001) N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §7:43
New Jersey (1998) N.J. Stat. Ann. §47:4-4
North Carolina (2002) N.C. Gen. Stat. §15C-1
Oklahoma (2002) 22 Okla. Stat. Ann. §60.14
Oregon (2006) 2005 Or. Laws, Chap. 821 (SB 850)
Pennsylvania (2005) 2004 Pa. Laws, Act 188
Rhode Island (1999) R.I. Gen Laws §17-28-3
Vermont (2000) 15 VSA §1152
Washington (1991) RCW §40.24.030