FLDS hearing recessed for possible deals

San Angelo Standard-Times, Texas/August 18, 2008

A hearing this morning to decide whether the state should assume custody of eight children who lived at the YFZ Ranch has been recessed to allow attorneys the opportunity to negotiate settlements.

Attorneys for the four sets of parents in the cases filed late last week motions seeking to vacate the request by the state's Child Protective Services agency and told 51st District Judge Barbara Walther this morning they wanted to speak to CPS attorneys to see if deals could be reached.

"If you all would step outside and see what you can do," Walther said as she recessed the court roughly 10 minutes after the hearings began.

CPS is alleging the children are in danger if they continue to be in the custody of their parents, members of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which built the YFZ Ranch compound in Schleicher County nearly five years ago.

The hearing today is an outgrowth of an April 3 raid in which CPS removed more than 400 children before being ordered by state appellate courts to return them to their parents. Of 440 children initially removed, 364 remain under investigation, including the eight whose hearings are scheduled to take place today, CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said.

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