6/01/09 – NWA (AP): State files motions against Alamo lawyer

June 1, 2009

State files motions against Alamo lawyer

TEXARKANA – Efforts by lawyers for jailed evangelist Tony Alamo to gather what they claim is evidence for a civil suit against the state in federal court are really an attempt to interfere in state-court custody actions involving the children of Alamo followers, according to lawyers for the state.

The state Department of Human Services filed five motions in federal court Friday in the civil lawsuit that accuses the agency of harassment and civil rights violations in the removal of children from Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.

The motions filed by the department ask U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes to stop efforts by the church’s lawyer, Phillip Kuhn of Florida, to take depositions and seek other evidence until the court has ruled on jurisdiction.

“If this court grants the relief sought by [the Alamo ministry], an improper interference with the state court proceedings is inevitable,” one motion said.

According to the department, the civil suit asks the federal court to overturn state court orders.

“For example, plaintiffs ask that the defendants be ordered not to require any member of the [Alamo ministries] to leave their present housing or employment,” a filing said. “That issue, however, has already been decided by the state courts and the defendants cannot ignore the valid orders of the state courts.”

Thirty-six children associated with Alamo’s group have been taken into state custody since September, among more than 125 sought in Miller and Sebastian counties.

Kuhn said he has scheduled depositions of the department administrators named as defendants in the suit for next week. He has also served the department with subpoenas for a variety of records as part of the evidence-gathering process.

The department has indicated it doesn’t want to hand over anything until Barnes has decided whether the case can stay in federal court.

In a response filed by Kuhn, the department is accused of using the issue of federal versus state jurisdiction to “fight this constitutional battle with paper swords in dark rooms. Their fondest hope … is to convince the court to wash its hands of the factual and evidentiary realities of the case by deciding … the narrow issue of … jurisdiction.”

Kuhn said he plans to appear at the department’s offices in Little Rock on Tuesday to collect the items listed in his subpoena unless Barnes issues an order preventing him from doing so.

Kuhn asks that all of the department’s motions be denied and that the agency be required to cooperate with his evidencegathering activities.

Alamo is jailed in Texarkana awaiting trial on charges that he transported five underage girls across state lines for sex between March 1994 and October 2005. Last month, Barnes granted Alamo’s request to delay the trial, which had been set for May 18, to July 13.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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