I wrote last week about a custody case in Cameron, in which a father and his parents are seeking to take his children from their mother on the basis that she had homeschooled the children. The case continues tomorrow and has served to remind me of the continuing challenge that parents—and particularly home school parents—face, which is the challenge of justice in regard to their rights as parents to make decisions for their children.
Increasingly, a parent’s right to maintain possession of his child or make decisions for his child comes down to the decision of a judge. THSC continues to support a fit single father who lived with the horror of losing his daughter to the grandparents for three years. In a jury trial last August, a jury of his peers overruled the Tarrant County judge who had perpetrated this tragedy upon this family and had previously done the same to others.
In the case in Cameron, the paternal grandparents are asking the judge to allow them to become party to the suit and make them joint managing conservators along with the father, which is exactly the same tactic the grandparents in the Tarrant County case employed in beginning their legal fight to take the fit father’s daughter from him.
While this travesty is heartbreaking, we do have the benefit of living in Texas, where we elect our judges. Unfortunately, the vast majority of voters have no idea who they are voting for in most judicial elections. That is why a judge in Aransas County had been called a “fair and impartial” judge and was reelected over many years, in spite of the abuse of his daughter that came to light after she posted on the Internet a video of him beating her. Public opinion forced officials to take action, and the judge was suspended. Earlier this month another Texas judge was exposed, by video, sleeping during hearings in which parents of special needs children were challenging public school officials.
The solution is that we must actively meet these judicial candidates in person and find out what their philosophy is. The difficulty is that you can’t easily determine that. Political party is not an indicator of a judge’s judicial philosophy, as evidenced by the judges who claim to be “conservative” and yet are some of the offenders I’ve referenced above. THSC PAC has developed a judicial candidate questionnaire, with the help of attorneys familiar with the Texas Judicial Code of Conduct, and yet many judicial candidates refuse to give a response, stating they are prohibited from revealing their views. Most often this is simply a smokescreen to hide their views from voters.
Recently a county court insider in a metropolitan Texas county, that is overwhelmingly Republican, said that the judges in that county were failures as parents and very liberal, and that when questioned about home schooling in regard to custody cases said, “Is that even legal?” Our rights as parents and home schoolers depends, in part, on educating these judges and making sure that we elect only those who truly believe that parents have a fundamental, constitutional right to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their children.
In spite of the fact that many of these judicial candidates will not respond to questions, there are ways to ascertain their views. For example, in Collin County one of the leading candidates for the 380th District Court is a prominent Republican probate attorney and member of the CPS board, who has the endorsement of a number of elected officials and refers to herself as “the proud mother of two boys.” What she seems to be trying to keep out of the public eye is that she has sued one of her sons in a probate court in which she often practices and where she is close with the judge.
According to court records she threatened her son and his wife with CPS if they would not “voluntarily” sign documents giving up custody of their four-year-old son. The appropriate venue for such an action, if she believes her son and/or his wife are abusive, is a family law court. The probate court judge refused to allow the case to be moved to an appropriate court and, at the request of the attorney for the grandmother of the child at issue, granted a “gag order” to prevent anyone involved in the case from speaking about it publicly.
So a Republican candidate for a district court judgeship in a major Texas county, who is a CPS board member, is willing to abuse the judicial system to take her son’s son from him without due process and ask the court to muzzle those representing the son in an attempt to protect her campaign. What would she do if she was a district judge? We have not endorsed anyone in this race, but this person should not be elected.