Lubbock Attorneys Called To Help In West Texas Polygamous Compound Case - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/13/08

Lubbock Attorneys Called To Help In West Texas Polygamous Compound Case

Authorities enforced a judge's order to take cell phones away from the women and children removed from a West Texas polygamous compound. Some 416 children are in temporary state custody after investigators first entered the compound, outside of Eldorado, 11 days ago. The raid came after a 16-year-old girl called a domestic violence hotline saying she was suffering physical and sexual abuse from her 50-year-old husband.

Attorneys say cutting off communication will prevent possible tampering of witnesses. The children's mothers are now asking Governor Rick Perry for help. They say their children have become sick, and are being questioned about things they know nothing about. 

Meanwhile, lawyers around the state are being asked to help with this case. Last week local attorneys received an email. The letter asks help to represent more than 400 children removed from the polygamist compound. A compelling call to action, which has some Lubbock attorney's giving both their time and money.

"The email went out on Thursday and so it's just been a very short time I responded by sending an email back saying that I'd be glad to serve," Family Attorney Leigh Ann Fouts said.

Fouts received from the Lubbock County Bar Association. It asks for certified and trained attorneys to serve as advocated to these children taken into state custody. Under the law, once Child Protective Services removes a child from their home a hearing must be held within 14 days.

Fouts said, "Determines if the department should be named as the temporary managing conservator for those children."

If so, the children will be entitled to both a guardian ad litem and attorney ad litem.

"Basically (their) the voice of the child in court, represents their interest as if the attorney was hired to represent the child. Only typically, the county has the burden of those expenses to pay for those fees. In this case we're all doing it for free," Fouts said.

"All of us are involved in this," Attorney Fred Bowers said.

Bowers is the Vice President of the Litigation Section for the State Bar of Texas. While Bowers does not deal with these types of cases, he and others are providing assistance.

"We're trying to offset the expense for these lawyers because they're probably have to make multiple trips to San Anglo from various parts of the state," Bowers said.

On Thursday, Fouts will make a road trip to San Anglo and be assigned cases. The first of what could be many over the next several months.

"The children obviously are going to have to be placed all over the state. I'm sure they're already having difficulties, enormous difficulties in finding placements for the children," Fouts added.

Fouts tells us, after the hearing some of the children may be returned to their parents, but many will not. She says that means as many as 400 attorneys could be needed.

 

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