Texas Loses Court Ruling Over Taking of Polygamist Sect Children
This brings polygamist families closer to regaining custody of their children.
State officials said they would move swiftly to return the children.
The decision upholding a ruling of the Third Court of Appeals last week directed a state judge to revoke the custody order taking the children from the Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado.
But it gave no timetable for their return and said that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services could still seek authority to protect any of the children in individual cases.
The decision was supported in full by six justices; three justices dissented in part.
In a statement after the ruling, Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services, which won custody of the children after a raid on April 3, said, “We are disappointed, but we understand and respect the court’s decision and will take immediate steps to comply.”
The statement added: “Our goal is to reunite families whenever we can and make sure the children will be safe. We will continue to prepare for the prompt and orderly reunification of these children with their families.”
Parents and their lawyers were jubilant. “It’s a great victory,” said Rod Parker, a Salt Lake City lawyer and longtime representative of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which broke with the Mormon Church over the Mormons’ repudiation of plural marriage in the late 19th century.
“They confirmed what the Court of Appeals said, which is that the children were taken from their parents illegally and they must be returned,” Mr. Parker said by telephone from San Angelo, where the custody hearings were held before the children were sent to foster homes across Texas.