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Fri Apr 21, 2017, 09:37 AM

A question about Alex Jones' custody case

Is it common for juries to decide this? I had always thought this was something family court judges did in private courtrooms not juries in public ones. Jones is loony tunes or a fraud take your pick but for his kid to have to sit in front of a jury strikes me as not being kosher.

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Response to dsc (Original post)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 10:00 AM

1. Texas is the only state that has this, and only rarely.

http://www.dallastxdivorce.com/2015/08/articles/children-and-parenting/custody-by-jury-only-in-texas/

Many things make Texas unique. But one thing stands out for family law attorneys and litigants – the right to have a jury decide custody of your children. Texas is the ONLY state in the US to allow custody jury trials. Eleven states allow juries in for some aspect of divorce litigation (Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin), mostly on the grounds or entitlement for divorce only. See Case Law Development: Jury Trial in Divorce Actions.

That being said, very few parents ask for a jury trial, making them a very rare occurrence in Texas. Reasons for this may be the stress of laying your life – both good decisions and not-so-good ones – out for 12 peers to judge; or, the added legal cost of a jury trial; or the unpredictability of the outcome. Most custody cases in Texas settle by agreement because most parents would rather participate in making decisions about their children rather than allow strangers to make those decisions for you. Also, jury trials in custody cases are rare because temporary orders are generally entered at the beginning of a case and neither judges nor juries are likely to do something against the temporary orders.

The right to a jury trial regarding children is limited to issues of joint or sole conservatorship, which parent has the primary to establish the child’s residence, and whether there will be any restriction on the child’s residence. All other issues, such as possession periods with each parent, decision-making rights and duties, and child support, are decided by the Judge.

<snip>

When closing arguments are finished, the jurors go to the jury room with the evidence and jury charge to make a decision. In custody cases, like civil cases generally, it is not necessary to have unanimity. A vote of 10 out of 12 jurors is sufficient to reach a verdict, as long as the same 10 agree on everything.

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Response to Moosepoop (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 10:05 AM

3. They apparently agreed to a settlement some time back


Minton said that the couple had agreed in their 2015 divorce settlement that Alex Jones would be the primary parent and Kelly Jones would have very limited supervised visits, but with the possibility of earning with her behavior an even split of the children’s time. But, he said, her unstable behavior did not earn it.

I'm wondering whether the claims premised on breach of the agreement might also put this into a different procedural pipeline.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 10:38 AM

5. Jones paid for the expert witnesses and ad litem in the first proceeding

The wife is evidently re-opening this issue and has hired a top attorney to represent her

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 11:17 AM

8. I don't think breach of agreement is the issue.

I'm no attorney, but my impression is that the procedural pipeline has been firmly established already.

Breach of the settlement agreement would only apply to money/property issues, not the custody of the children, and even then there are procedures to deal with enforcing those issues specifically.

Either party can move to modify the original custody order (even if it was by agreement), and one did. Any case stays in its original jurisdiction, and so this case has the same judge who ordered the original arrangement. She is apparently OK with the request for modification of the custody order and with the request for a jury trial on the matter. She is presiding over the whole thing, and would not have seated a jury if she didn't think the case should be heard this way.

I'm curious as to why the mother settled for the present arrangement in the first place. A mother only having limited, supervised visitation? What would have compelled her to agree to that?? The father claims that she's "unstable" (pot meet kettle, IMO), and apparently there was something that made the mother capitulate to that claim to a great extent. Was it fear of his money possibly winning out and she could lose ALL access to her kids? I just can't understand why/how she ended up with such limited access to her kids in the 2015 divorce. ??



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Response to Moosepoop (Reply #8)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 12:31 PM

11. "What would have compelled her to agree to that?"


Let me put it to you this way, and it is one of the reasons I don't practice family law.

I know one thing about this woman, and one thing only - she married Alex Jones.

So while, granted, Alex Jones is a nutbar extraordinaire, I don't expect persons who voluntarily and intimately relate to him to be paragons of sanity either.

Sometimes, in a dispute between two people over who is crazy, they're both right.

As the saying goes:

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #11)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 12:43 PM

12. Ain't that the truth!!

Although, maybe Jones wasn't so much of a nutbar when she married him, or perhaps he hid it well at the time.

Either way, those poor kids -- at least one unbalanced parent, and maybe two. Hope they turn out OK in spite of it all.

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Response to Moosepoop (Reply #12)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 01:31 PM

14. Well, it's 2017 and they have minor children


I haven't looked at the details, but it begs the question of how long as Alex Jones been a nutter.

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Response to Moosepoop (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 10:47 AM

6. thanks have to say this is a very odd system

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Response to dsc (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 11:18 AM

9. You're welcome -- and i agree. n/t

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Response to dsc (Original post)


Response to dsc (Original post)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 10:37 AM

4. This is dealing the modification of child custody

One of my law partners knows both of the attorneys in this case. Both parties are using Houston divorce attorneys even though the case is in Travis County. Child custody and the best interests of the children is a jury issue

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Response to dsc (Original post)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 11:00 AM

7. I was wondering about the jury thing, so thank you for asking and others for explaining.

in my experience, calling children as witnesses upsets everybody.

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Response to Shrike47 (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 11:30 AM

10. Agreed!

I did read that while calling children as witnesses for custody trials CAN happen, it's rarely done because of the upsetting nature of it, and also because kids are viewed as unreliable witnesses. Serious issues like violence and physical abuse are instances when they may get asked to state what they've seen or experienced. When it is done, it's usually only the older kids, and then only those that exhibit a strong ability to understand the proceedings and to clearly articulate their answers.

That's a lot of "usually"... any custody case could involve having kids testify in open court, especially the older ones (12 and up).

I hope neither side of this case asks for that.

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Response to dsc (Original post)

Fri Apr 21, 2017, 12:50 PM

13. You can go in and try to change or modify custody based on circumstances

The recent attention on Jones' behavior are great circumstances. The man is crazy and this is not an act.

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