Behind closed doors, Tarrant County district judges decided Thursday to remove future Child Protective Cases from Judge Alex Kim’s courtroom.
“You have to respect the Constitution one way or another,” Judge Kim said. “They thought what was best. That’s the way the process is. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
The order states beginning March 1, new CPS cases will be randomly assigned within the six courts in the Tarrant County Family Law Center. Currently, they’re assigned to the 323rd Family District Court – which Judge Kim presides over.
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“It is the opinion of the committee that the consolidation of all CPS cases into one location will improve the administration of all cases, allow for the consolidation of resources, improve communications, be cost-efficient and promote consistency,” the order reads.
The committee of judges said a recent review of the “Local Rules of Tarrant County” determined CPS cases were not being randomly assigned, as required.
Tarrant County District Clerk Tom Wilder said it’s not unusual for individual cases to be moved, though Kim currently oversees the majority of CPS cases. The 323rd District has overseen it for decades now, he said.
A crowd of Judge’s Kim’s supporters waited outside the meeting Thursday, which lasted for more than an hour. Rich DeOtte said he felt removing CPS cases from Kim would undo the will of the people.
“This particular race for Judge was about these cases, so people elected Judge Kim to handle these cases,” DeOtte said. “He was hired by the voters to do this job, and he’s done a very good job of this. So I think they should leave the cases with Judge Kim’s court.”
Francine deLongchamp organized a Facebook calling for Kim’s supporters to be at the courthouse Thursday, telling NBC 5 she felt he was being “targeted”.
deLongchamp said she personally felt having the cases moved to Family Law Courts would cause case overload.
“Things are going to fall between the cracks and I don’t think those cases are going to disposed of necessarily in the best interest of the children,” she said.
During the course of the discussion, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said he had heard some concerns over Court Appointed Special Advocates and CPS members over Kim’s rulings. Though Whitley made it point to clarify, he was neither a district judge or part of the emergency vote Thursday.
Kim said he respected the process.
“I appreciate everybody being here,” he said, referring to his supporters at the courthouse. “I appreciate people expressing their First Amendment rights, whether it’s the freedom of the press or freedom of petitioning government. This is the process that our Founding Fathers based it on and that’s what the important part of this is. When there’s disappointment, you can't be disappointed that our government’s working the way it’s supposed to work.”
The order also states all juvenile cases will remain in Kim's courtroom.
A transcript of the meeting is expected to be available to the media. NBC 5 requested a copy but has not received one as of Thursday evening.