Lawmakers Subpoena Judge Over Child Custody Cases

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The vote was unanimous. Members of the Joint Performance Review Committee approving a subpoena of Sixth Judicial District Judge Patricia James.

Over the last year, lawmakers have heard complaints that judges are ignoring state law requiring them to give families preferential consideration in child custody cases.
   
Earlier this year, the outgoing head of DHS’s Department of Children and Family Services pointed to James as one of the judges who abuses the law most often.    

“I am following the law,” James told KARK in April.  “They’re not following the law when they don’t consider the relevant child protective standards.”

James has defended her actions saying she’s trying to prevent children from being taken out of one bad situation only to be put back in another.
   
Lawmakers are dubious and says they’ve been working since April to get James to explain her rulings. But after not getting a response to their requests,  the subpoena is being issued. It’s a rare step admits JPR Committee Co-chair State Sen. Alan Clark, R-Hot Springs. 

“It’s also unusual for a circuit judge to ignore a legislative committee,” he said.

In a written response James said:

“All I can comment is that I have not seen the subpoena yet, but once it is received, it will be forwarded to the appropriate people to respond to it.”

“It’ll be delivered and hopefully well see Judge James October 4th,” Clark said.

October 4th is the date lawmakers are demanding James appear before them to testify. If she doesn’t, the lawmakers say she could be held in contempt of court.

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