Wednesday final witnesses were called in the Fort Worth Parental Rights Trial. As you will recall, a fit father is trying to regain possession of his daughter after three years with the grandparents under a judge’s “temporary orders.” A home school leader and friend of this father was stellar in her testimony and was not intimidated by the harsh treatment by the grandparents’ attorneys.
The final witness in the trial was a man who was not only the husband of the deceased wife at the time of her death but who also was party to the temporary order initiated by the grandparents. His former attorneys (the attorneys for the grandparents) were particularly vicious in the questioning of him, but under cross-examination he admitted that he had been a party to the lawsuit to remove the daughter as this was part of a plan discussed by his deceased wife and her parents at great length while she was dying. The plan was to manipulate the legal system to take this child from her fit father, which to this point in time has been successful.
This man came to the place that he could no longer be part of this horrible miscarriage of justice and contacted the father, gave an affidavit outlining what the grandparents’ plan had been while he was part of it and agreed to change sides and be a witness for the father.
Finally Wednesday one of the attorneys for the father read into the record a long set of comments to document objections in preparation for an appeal if necessary, followed by sparring with attorneys for the grandparents on this issue.
Thursday morning final arguments were made in which the attorney for the father said, “The grandparents say, ‘We believe that the child’s circumstances were changed at the time she was abducted by her father and that this was injurious to her physical or emotional development.’ Twenty days in July of 2008 and from that they orchestrate through a default prove up an order that limits the father to one hour per every other week.
“From this they go to the Irving Police Department, after the Idaho police refuse to file charges, and have the father arrested. From this they continuously refuse to do anything more than what the court will order despite knowing that they have the power to agree to an arrangement on a temporary basis that would have provided that balance that the daughter supposedly wanted.
“They continuously came to this court asking for the bare minimum for the father because, after all, on April 26, 2010, they knew one thing for certain. They knew that he would not have an opportunity to present his side of the case to you ladies and gentlemen until at the earliest August 15, 2011, 16 months later. Sixteen months of temporary custody of his daughter and 16 months of one hour every other week visits with her father.
“The grandparents knew they had the burden of proof. They knew they would have to come to court and admit to the jury that the starting point for this case was the father as the Sole Managing Conservator and the grandparents with two weeks in the summer and second and fourth weekends. They knew that if all they filed was the Petition to Enforce that they filed first, the most they would get was nine days of make-up time and then the daughter would be back to Idaho where the father had an absolute right to reside.
“So they had to reverse the odds – they had to create a scenario where in their mind the father would have to be the one to prove that as a parent he had a right to have his daughter with him. So the grandparents filed a Motion to Modify, alleged that his daughter was in danger with her father, and came to court and took a default against him even though they knew they already had an order that required him to bring his daughter to court on July 22 to answer to the court for violating that order and why they should not be given make-up time. They had to come in four days early, on July 18, after he was served on July 15 and ask the court to give them temporary custody. They did this even though they knew the daughter would have to be brought back and they did this even though they knew that the father had written a letter to the court saying he could not be here on July 18 for that hearing.
“The grandparents knew that if they could get this temporary order on April 26, 2010, that if nothing changed in the orders between April 2010 and August 2011 that now they could improperly attempt to shift the burden to the father and say, ‘But ladies and gentlemen of the jury, our granddaughter has done so well in our care; make the father prove that it is in his daughter’s best interest to be returned to her father.’
“That effort to shift the burden started in a car ride back from Idaho with the addition of a mini vacation and the grandparents showing their granddaughter court papers and talking about what this case was about and what her father did wrong. It continued through their insistence that visits occur only in a family court visitation center to infer that her father must have done something wrong, and it was brought to a conclusion by taking her to a lawyer’s office, talking to her about ‘sole managing conservatorship,’ and convincing her to sign a designation of preference. All that is borne out by the testimony and evidence, not by our witnesses; this is borne out by the testimony of the grandfather himself, the grandmother, and the witnesses who came to support and testify for them because, as they say, ‘We are afraid we will never see them again.’
“I also want you to think about the credibility of the psychologist. He met with the father twice for less than two hours. He met with the daughter for all of one hour, of which 15 minutes was the only time associated with a meeting with the father. He reviewed no collateral materials; did not talk to teachers, doctors, friends of the father; did not review letters that the father wrote his daughter; did not follow his own guidelines; and when asked to review these materials, said he would only do it for more money. When did the desire to get paid outweigh the responsibility of a court-appointed official to do a complete and thorough job? And the one job that he did do in providing assessment tests, which do not test parenting but test general psychological functioning, [these tests] were normal for all three parties.
“The social worker, although doing a more thorough job than the psychologist, also only met with the father for a couple of hours, did a home visit without the daughter present, and observed a single one-hour supervised visit. Is this really enough to formulate an opinion regarding what is best for this girl for the next five years of her life?
“Look at the evidence from the father. Look at the photographs. Read the visitation reports from the observers in family court services. Read the letters from him to his daughter. At one of the darkest times of his life, in the middle of litigation just a couple of months after his daughter has been taken from him, while he is fighting for his daughter to come home, he writes her and says, ‘Be mindful of Nay Nay and Pa Pa’s rules.’ He talks about prayer, he provides comfort and love and also discipline and responsibility, and talks about a future of their life together. And what does the grandfather do in return? He writes a letter to the father advising him that the tone and nature of his letters talking about the future are not appropriate, yet all the while reminding the daughter of their fear of her future without the grandparents.”
The attorney for the grandparents made their closing arguments, and the case was sent to the jury. Please continue to pray for justice to be done. A decision is expected from the jury soon.