ABA Journal – Discovering Eldorado

When Susan L. Hays took an at­tor­ney ad litem assignment for one of the many Texas custody cases of the Funda­mentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, she never imagined her client would be 2 years old.

“I thought I was going to get a pregnant teenager and her creepy 50-year-old husband,” says Hays, a Dallas sole practitioner who co-founded Jane’s Due Process, a Texas group that helps teenagers obtain legal abortions without parental consent.

Hays was among the nearly 300 lawyers who represented children removed earlier this year by Texas authorities from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado. The state believed that church leaders there were arranging “spiritual marriages” between teenage girls and older men who engaged in polygamy.

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