Sealed Records and Gag-Orders to Keep Parents from Their Kids

In the battle for parental rights, more and more we are seeing state bureaucrats removing children from fit parents, and judges arguing that they are making decisions “in the best interests of the children,” instead of allowing the fit parents to make legitimate parenting decisions for their own children.

A recent high-profile example of such abuse is the Justina Pelletier case in Boston. This 14-year-old girl was taken from her parents when doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) disagreed with the diagnosis of doctors at Tufts Medical Center, who had been treating her for some time. When the parents sought to remove their child from BCH and return her to the care of Tufts’ doctors, BCH called CPS and the child was removed from her parents. She was placed under the care of CPS, which has allowed BCH doctors to keep her in the psychological ward there for more than a year and has restricted parental visits to one hour per week. Justina’s condition has deteriorated over that time.

This case burst onto the national scene when Justina’s father decided to violate the court’s gag order preventing anyone involved in the case from speaking about it publicly. It is not surprising that public outrage has swept the country against what has been done to this child and her parents in the name of “the best interests of the child.”

In a similar development, THSC will be in court on March 26 in the ongoing Tutt case, in an effort to get a copy of the transcript of the January 7 hearing. In that hearing the judge ruled that the taking of the Tutts’ children was not justified and she returned some of the children to the home, but she also ruled that the parents could not home school them. THSC, of course, is a statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to protect the right of parents in Texas to choose the method of education for their own children. Home schooling has become a central theme in this case, and we wish to have the court record in order to document the statements of family friends and observers in the courtroom regarding what many of them consider an attack against the family regarding the home schooling of their children.

The Dallas district attorney’s office responded to our request with a motion to deny THSC the transcript and to seal the record away from the public. The Tutts do not object to our having the transcript, and we have no objection to redacting the children’s names, as is often done in such court records. Our concern is that documentation of the public hearing and attacks against a legitimate parental decision to home school should not be hidden from the public. We will present to the court our reasons on March 26, and we hope and pray that the judge will not allow the district attorney to keep documentation of what is happening to the Tutts away from the public in the name of “protecting the children.”


  1. Georganne says

    Just curious, how can they deny a copy of the transcript to the defendant? And if you’re representing the defendant, what legal ground can they offer to not provide a copy to you? Funny how everyone needs to obey the law except the people who should be enforcing the law.

    • Tim Lambert says

      They are not denying a copy to the Tutts but to THSC. We are seeking the court record to document allegations regarding home schooling. The Tutts do not oppose this but the DA does. While we are paying the legal fees of the Tutts attorneys we are not automatically entitled to the record since we are not technically a party to the suit.

  2. J says

    CPS took my two children in May 2013, because my husband was having depression problems… and just like this case, there was never a crime committed, no drug or alcohol problems, no legally valid reasons, yet they took them anyway. Closed court, sealed records, perjury and falsifying documents seems to be the norm. There is no hope when government agencies have unlimited power, are not held accountable, and hide what they are doing under the guise of “confidentiality”. I cooperated, and finished their case plan back in Oct. I even got a divorce over this. But instead of getting my children back, the courts ceased all visits. I have not seen or heard from my kids since the first week of November. If/when I do get my kids back., I’ll likely go into hiding with them or leave the country. Nothing in my life has been this heart wrenching or traumatizing. The sad thing is, this happens every day in courts all over America. It seems the last real hope for reform, died with Sen Nancy Schaefer from GA. I wish your organization the best… someone needs to fight for parental rights and families. Since the states collect federal funds to run this industrial complex of organizations…counseling centers, psychologists, doctors, lawyers, GAL program, drug and alcohol rehab, parenting classes, etc… It would take an act of God to stop the unlawful taking of children… The government won’t help… they are the problem.