On March 26, 2014, THSC went to court in Dallas County to challenge a motion by the Dallas County district attorney, who was asking the court to block our request for the transcript of the January 7, 2014, hearing in the Tutt case. This was an eight-hour hearing that reviewed the taking of the Tutt children by Judge Olvera. While the Tutts supported our having the transcript, the DA’s office and others argued that it should not be made public, because this was a CPS case involving children.
Attorney David Gibbs argued that THSC has a First Amendment right of free speech to have the information and a freedom of the press right as well. Since THSC monitors court cases, legislation, and many other actions that might endanger parents’ rights to raise and educate their children as they see fit, and publishes about these issues, THSC has the same rights to such records as does any news outlet. THSC assured the court that we would not violate the privacy of any of the children or others involved in the case and that we were willing to redact such information if necessary.
The DA’s office told the judge that it was the first time she had heard of this issue, she did not “know who these people are,” and to hear arguments on the issue would be an ambush. Attorney Gibbs pointed out the filing had been provided to the DA’s office prior to the hearing and that the purpose of the hearing was to get the court to rule on the DA’s motion to deny THSC’s request for the transcript and to seal the records of the case. Therefore, they knew why we were there.
Judge Callahan ruled that THSC could receive the transcript after she had read through it and redacted anything unrelated to home schooling or the right of the parents related to home schooling. THSC has also retained an appellate attorney to represent the Tutts who has also ordered a full transcript of the January 7 hearing to determine other possible legal actions. While Judge Callahan said she would try to have the redacted transcript to us within two weeks of the time she receives it, the court clerk told us, “It will take quite some time to finish the transcribing of the transcript.”
The Tutts are not scheduled to be back in Judge Callahan’s court until April 30 for another status hearing, so this case could drag on for some time. All the while, the children are suffering. Please continue to pray for the Tutts and for THSC as we seek to pursue every legal and political option at our disposal to help this family.