7/11/09 – TG: Lawyer wants Alamo followers released from jail

Texarkana Gazette
July 11, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Lawyer wants Alamo followers released from jail

An attorney representing two Tony Alamo Christian Ministries members with children in foster care wants a Miller County judge to let his clients out of jail.

Circuit Judge Joe Griffin locked up Don Thorne and Bethany Meyers in January when they refused to tell him where their missing children and spouses were hiding.

Thorne was in a custody hearing concerning one of his children when he declined to reveal the location of his other two children. Meyers was cuffed when she wouldn’t disclose where three of her six children could be found.

On Thursday, Florida attorney Joe Quick filed motions requesting jury trials and bail for the jailed parents, Griffin said.

“It is a motion for a jury trial in juvenile court,” Griffin said. “Historically, there are no jury trials in juvenile court.”

Because the documents were filed in connection with the pending custody cases concerning children who’ve been placed in state care, they are not public record.

“I’m also not aware of there being a possibility for a jury trial for contempt,” Griffin said. “You can get a jury trial in the criminal division of circuit court. You can get a jury trial on civil lawsuits. But contempt is in the power of the court, not a jury. What is a jury going to decide? There is no question of fact to be determined. The court’s already found them in contempt.”

Griffin said he will probably schedule a hearing to address the situation once the Arkansas Department of Human Services has filed a response to Quick’s motion.

Since a raid on ministry property in Fouke, Ark., in September 2008, 36 children have been taken by the state of Arkansas’ child welfare agency. More than 90 juveniles whose names appear on removal orders
signed by Griffin and Circuit Judge Mark Hewitt of Sebastian County have not been found.

Quick said he could not comment because of a gag order preventing him from discussing the case.

Quick recently replaced Christopher DeSantis as the parents’ attorney, Griffin said. Quick is associated with the parent advocacy group CPS Watch.

The Florida lawyer once worked as a prosecutor for that state’s child welfare agency but was fired when he refused to carry out a directive he believed was unethical, said Desere Howard of CPS Watch. Howard added that Quick sued for wrongful termination and won under the Whistleblower Act.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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