Friday, March 24, 2006

Justice Delayed, Justice Denied for Texas Foster Children

(This is a guest piece by Bree Buchanan running for the 3rd Court of Appeals. She is an impressive and hard working and brilliant mind, and it is important we put someone of her caliber on the courts in November.)

Tom DeLay’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, claims that “justice delayed is justice denied” if the Austin Court of Appeals fails to issue a quick decision concerning his client. DeGuerin argues that DeLay will suffer a disadvantage if his conspiracy charges are not resolved prior to the November elections.

But what about the thousands of Texans in the court’s 24 county district who are waiting for a decision? Of greatest concern to me: the foster children who are being denied an adoptive “forever family” because their case has yet to be resolved. Their cases, which involve the termination of the abusive parents’ rights, are often appealed by parents who lost at trial. Once the case gets to the appellate court, everyone – children, foster parents, caseworkers, CASA’s – begin what is often a very long wait. Some foster children wait for months for a decision by the court and some wait for years, depending on the justice who is assigned to write the decision.

I certainly hope the DeLay’s appeal is not given preferential treatment over other cases pending on the court’s docket. The Austin Court of Appeals should not let DeLay jump to the head of the line in front of central Texans.

Bree Buchanan, J.D.

Note: At the end of the 2005 fiscal year, 1,481 cases were on the court’s docket. 2005 Annual Statistical Report, Office of Court Administration.


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