Texas Takes the Lead against King George

State of Texas 31, King George 28

In the contest I initially announced in State of Texas v. King George III, Texas has succeeded at displacing King George by logging more abuses against the FLDS than even King George managed to log against the American colonies.

29. The first search warrant against the FLDS and its associated affidavit appear to be constitutionally weak. The initial search warrant, dated 3 April, claimed to be based on “verified facts”. However, the affidavit that was used to justify that warrant appears to have been based on unverified hoaxes rather than verified facts (see warrant and affidavit at pages 1-7 in this link).

The first search warrant was specifically limited to the alleged abuse of Sarah Jessop Barlow by Dale Barlow. The affidavit used to justify that warrant was signed by a peace officer and described what the officer learned by interviewing two employees of the New Bridge Family Shelter and by reading affidavits those employees had written. The peace officer’s affidavit relied on phone calls made to the New Bridge Family Shelter by a female claiming to be “Sarah” and claiming to be suffering abuse by Dale Barlow at the YFZ Ranch. Law enforcement did verify that Dale Barlow was on probation in Arizona for a sexual offense and that he had not registered in Texas as a sex offender. However, that simply raises the question of whether anyone stopped to think that if Dale Barlow was on probation in Arizona, and if he had not registered in Texas, perhaps that meant that he did not live in Texas (see item 13 from a previous post for related questions raised by the raid). The entire legal case against the FLDS depends on that first search warrant, and it appears that the legal house of cards collapses without that warrant having a basis of verified facts to support it.

30. The fact that Texas officials performed interviews while executing the initial search warrant that had no relationship whatsoever to the initial search warrant leads to significant questions about the manner in which that warrant was executed. Although the first search warrant and its associated affidavit were limited to the alleged abuse of “Sarah” by Dale Barlow, the second search warrant and its associated affidavit, dated 6 April (see pages 8-11 and 19-21 in this link), make it quite clear that people at the YFZ Ranch had been interviewed on matters completely unrelated to “Sarah” or to Dale Barlow.

CPS has accused the FLDS of being uncooperative. However, based on the content of the second affidavit, it appears that Texas officials took advantage of the cooperativeness of the FLDS. During the initial search, the FLDS would have been under no legal obligation to provide information outside the scope of the search warrant. Nonetheless, looking at a video recorded during the raid of the YFZ Ranch and hosted on an FLDS website, it appears that law enforcement did not bother to explain the scope of a search warrant to the people they interacted with at the YFZ Ranch. In this video, an FLDS woman asked if she could see the search warrant.

Police: No ma’am. That basically has been given to the primary person in charge of the residence.

FLDS Woman: Can I ask how you can come and do this to us without showing us?

Police: It’s already been served…. It doesn’t have to be served to everyone in the residence.

FLDS Woman: This is a different residence than the one you served it in.

Police: No, it deals with the entire compound.

If the FLDS people living in the various residences in the YFZ Ranch were not allowed to see the search warrant and understand what law enforcement was authorized to do, it appears likely that they also did not have their Miranda Rights explained to them. Establishing whether law enforcement read Miranda Rights to the people at the YFZ Ranch appears to be another crucial fact in assessing the legality of the raid.

The second affidavit describes evidence (collected by CPS while law enforcement was executing the first search warrant) that might not have been provided if the FLDS had understood their Miranda rights. In fact, the CPS worker in the video clip linked above appears to indicate that CPS has no responsibility to honor Miranda rights.

CPS Worker: We don’t offer lawyers, we’re not with law enforcement, we’re CPS. [emphasis added]

Let’s look at the facts: CPS conducted interviews while the first search warrant was being executed that had no relation to the subject of the first search warrant. The subject of those interviews involved possible violation of Texas bigamy laws (Texas Penal Code Section 25.01). In these CPS interviews, at least two of the residents of the YFZ ranch potentially incriminated themselves, by indicating that they were involved in bigamous relationships. Those incriminating comments, along with other information collected during CPS interviews that went beyond the scope of the search warrant, were used as the basis for expanding from the narrow scope of the first search warrant (limited to “Sarah” and Dale Barlow) to the broad scope of the second search warrant (information about any child under the age of seventeen being married or having children).

CPS accompanied law enforcement personnel executing a search warrant, conducted interviews related to possible criminal offenses, and provided the information they collected to law enforcement so that law enforcement could use the information to obtain an expanded search warrant. Therefore, it appears clear that CPS personnel should be treated as part of the law enforcement umbrella, that CPS personnel should be held to the same standards as law enforcement personnel, and that CPS personnel should be required to offer warnings about the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. We have a rather large hole in our constitutional protections if the organization with the greatest power in government (the power to confiscate children), operates with the least amount of checks upon its exercise of power.

31. A CPS supervisor’s testimony about her experience while interviewing girls in the FLDS community on 3 April demonstrates an irony too strong to not find disappointing. According to a Salt Lake Tribune article, the CPS supervisor went to the FLDS community in order to determine whether to take FLDS children into state custody and was accompanied by nearly a dozen CPS investigators as well as law enforcement personnel. She said that she had to deal with FLDS men whom she described as “cordial and respectful” in order to interview the girls, and yet she said she was afraid and considered herself to be in an intimidating situation.

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