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FLDS Couple Seeks Emergency Order to Stop Infant Seizure, Say Perry & Haas

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorneys for a married couple who lived in the fundamentalist Mormon community in Eldorado, TX, will ask a Bexar County District Court judge today for an emergency order to prevent the state from taking away their infant child, who is still nursing, when he turns a year old on Thursday.

Attorneys are filing a petition with the presiding judge at 3:30 p.m. seeking an emergency injunction to keep the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from removing Joseph Steed Jessop Jr. from the care of his mother, Lori Jessop, 25. The petition also demands that Lori and her husband, Joseph Steed Jessop Sr., 27, be told the whereabouts of their other two children, and that the court schedule a hearing to determine whether the state can legally continue to hold the children.

According to the petition, a social worker told Mrs. Jessop that the child would be removed from her care when he turned a year old. All three children are being held without the authority of any court order, according to attorneys.

Attorney for Joseph Jessop Sr. is Rene Haas, of Corpus Christi, a former Nueces County district judge and highly successful trial lawyer. She is board certified in both criminal and family law. Lori Jessop is represented by Nancy DeLong, a Corpus Christi attorney with Texas RioGrand Legal Aide, Inc.

After the filing, Joseph Jessop will make a brief comment at the courthouse. Haas will make a statement and answer questions.


Lori and Joseph Jessop met in Hildale, Utah, where they were members of the Fundamentalists Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). They married when she was 18 and he was 20. Both are certified Emergency Medical Technicians. They moved to the FLDS community in Eldorado outside San Angelo, TX, in 2005.

They have three children, a daughter, Ziana Glo, 4, who was born in Utah, son, Joseph Edson, 2 1/2, and son Joseph Steed Jr., who will turn one on Thursday, May 15. Both boys were born in Eldorado.

The couple is monogamous and has lived as a family away from the other residents in separate quarters in a building housing the community's medical facilities and cafeteria. Their children were seized with the others in April and placed in a squalid shelter in San Angelo, where they became ill and had to be hospitalized. Later, Lori was allowed to accompany her infant to San Antonio, where he was placed in a children's home. She has been sleeping in a women's shelter but staying with him during the day where she can nurse him and care for him. The father, Joseph Jessop, is living in temporary quarters in San Antonio, to be near his wife and child.

The couple last saw all their children May 9. They are demanding to know where their two older children are being housed because both children are medically frail. They are concerned for the children's health and safety, given their medical conditions and their recent hospitalizations. They also are concerned that their children have been traumatized by the experience of being abruptly taken from their parents and separated from them at such young ages. They want them psychologically and physically examined to make sure their needs are being met.

The parents produced documents identifying themselves and their children to authorities prior to the children being removed from Eldorado.

The petition asserts the children are being held without a court order, and in this situation, under Texas law, the parents' only remedy is to bring a writ of habeas corpus in the county in which the children are being held.

A writ of habeas corpus is the name of a legal action through which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention of himself or another person. The writ of habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action. Although common in criminal cases, they are much less common in civil cases.

For a copy of the petition or more information contact:

Teresa Kelly


For Perry & Haas

SOURCE Perry & Haas
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