When a family law matter comes before a Texas court, the judge that initially takes on the matter will almost always continue to preside over the case until the minor children reach the age of maturity. This is true in other states, as well. A departure from that norm comes when a judge agrees to withdraw from a child custody case or other matter. Such instances are rare, but an example is found in one high-profile case that has made headlines across the nation.
The case involves two parents who have been fighting over the custody of their three shared children for a number of years. The judge in the case felt that the mother had alienated the children from their father. When the kids refused to meet with their Dad for a scheduled lunch visit, the judge had them handcuffed and sent to juvenile detention. After a national media spotlight was placed on the matter, the judge altered her order to allow the kids to attend summer camp instead of detention.
The state's Judicial Tenure Commission looked into the matter, and it found that the judge failed to behave in a manner that was courteous, patient and dignified. She is also accused of making multiple false statements. In particular, she told the children that their case would not be subject to review until they turned 18. At the time, the kids were 14, 11 and 9 years of age. She is also accused of comparing the eldest boy to Charles Manson and making gestures to indicate that he was insane.
Because the Judicial Tenure Commission made those findings, the judge decided to remove herself from the child custody case. She did not admit to any form of wrongdoing or bias, but stated that the involvement of the Commission could lead to "an appearance of impropriety." For those in Texas who have been following the case, her self-imposed removal may be seen as a positive development.
Source: Bloomfield-Bloomfield Hills, Mi. Patch, "Judge Who Cuffed Kids for Missing Lunch with Dad Disqualifies Herself", Beth Dalbey, Dec. 28, 2015