In the transcript of the February 20, 2020 meeting of Tarrant County’s district judges, the local administrative judge said the decision to remove all cases involving Child Protective Services (CPS) from the 323rd District Court of Judge Alex Kim was “in the best interest of the system” and “stakeholders.” Kim, however, argued that the work of his court has kept “families together more than we ever have before in recent history.”
Texas Scorecard broke the story of this meeting on February 13, with sources claiming an establishment judge was targeting Kim for being unbiased and making CPS follow the law. They alleged his signing a last-minute injunction saving a baby’s life was the last straw.
Sources also alleged that the judge in question—Local Administrative Judge David L. Evans of the 48th District Court—was under the influence of CPS, Cook Children’s Medical Center, and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Tarrant County (CASA).
The meeting—which was originally scheduled to be open to the public—was moved behind closed doors, out of view of the voters.
In the transcript, Evans disputed this move was being made in response to actions by Judge Kim. As to who stands to benefit from it, Evans made that quite clear on page 30 of the transcript: “the system.”
Later, on page 58, Evans added this would also benefit “litigants” and “court personnel,” as well as the aforementioned “stakeholders.” He also said it would be “cost efficient,” “improve communications,” and “promote consistency.”
While Evans does not outline who these “stakeholders” are, a number of organizations are discussed in the transcript: ACH (a non-profit organization), OCOK (Our Community, Our Kids, a non-profit organization involved in foster care), CASA, and CPS.
“The county” is also mentioned in the transcript, with Evans saying on page 32 that “it wants to do this.”
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley has publicly bemoaned the judges being held accountable to the public on this move.
Evans does not mention consulting voters or the public.
“Children” are mentioned eleven times in the transcript: eight by Kim, twice by Judge Patricia Baca Bennett, and once by Evans. The transcript records the use of the word “kid” twice, once by Kim and once by Judge Westfall. “Kids” is found only once, and was used by Kim.
“Family” is found 45 times in the transcript and is used to refer to family law or the family courts. “Families” is found one time on page 40, and is used by Kim referring to his court’s accomplishments since taking over: “But we are keeping families together more than we ever have before in recent history.”
Judge James Munford of the 322nd District Court and Judge Chris Wolfe of the 213th District Court were the only ones to vote alongside Kim against removing all CPS cases from his court.
Judges Gonzalez, Beach, Cosby, Burgess, and Fahey did not attend the meeting. The rest of the judges sided against Kim and the voters who had hired him to handle the majority of Tarrant County’s CPS cases.