Julie Balovich, a Texas RioGrande Legal Aid staff attorney, recalls pulling more than one all-nighter this past spring. During a two-month whirlwind of dramatic legal activity, Balovich was a lead lawyer representing 48 mothers who had lived at a polygamist ranch in West Texas. In early April, those mothers’ 126 children were among the roughly 416 kids removed from the Yearning for Zion Ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) by Child Protective Services (CPS), an arm of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS). CPS removed the children after allegations of child abuse at the ranch surfaced.
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