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Judge removes herself from controversial child custody case

Many Texas readers will recall coverage of an unusual custody battle in which a judge ordered three children to be sent to a juvenile detention facility for refusing to visit with their father. That case is back in the headlines after the judge took action to remove herself from further involvement in the case. Many are heralding that move as a victory for those who felt that the judge took an overly harsh approach to the child custody case.

The family went before the judge to argue a child custody case. The judge felt strongly that the children had been subjected to parental alienation at the hands of their mother. When the children refused to participate in a scheduled lunch with their father, the judge found them in contempt and sent them to detention. After media coverage of that decision led to public outrage, the children were released and sent to a summer camp. Eventually, they were ordered to live with their father, against both their own and their mother's objections.

The state's Judicial Tenure Commission looked into the case after complaints were made about the judge's conduct. The result was a formal complaint in which the Commission claims that the judge did not act in a patient, courteous manner and acted in a manner that did not show respect for the law. Furthermore, the judge is accused of making false statements and misrepresentations within the case.

In a recent and unexpected move, the judge wrote an opinion that serves to effectively remove her from the case. While she did not admit to any form of bias or wrongdoing, she states that her continued involvement in the case could create "an appearance of impropriety." There is no word on whether there are new motions before the court in this matter, or whether the mother plans to bring the issue back before a new judge. The unusual child custody move is viewed by some in Texas and elsewhere as a positive step, and a chance for the children involved to have their best interests properly examined.    

Source: CBS Detroit, "Judge Accused Of Misconduct Withdraws From Child Custody Case", Dec. 29, 2015

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