New child protection court lightens load for Taylor Co. judges

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ABILENE, Texas (KRBC/KTAB) – Since Sept. 2017, Judge April Propst has been an associate judge for the 326th District Court .

“I have been handling CPS cases, just not all of them, because I have other job duties,” Judge Propst says.

Court dockets have been flooded with cases for years, but now with the Texas Legislature approving a new child protection court for Taylor County, Judge Propst will exclusively handle Child Protective Services (CPS) cases.

“It’s not unusual for me to have removal affidavits two to five times a week, and so those are new cases that are coming in where they are asking to remove the children and that is just a lot, a lot of removals, and if those removals continue, those cases can last anywhere from a year to 18 months,” said Judge Propst.

Judge Patty Wenetschlaeger is now assisting with family law to help with those cases.

“This court, too, is already full and it is filling up everyday, so it just shows we really needed this because we needed the availability, so most of my hearings start at 8:30 and hopefully end at 5 everyday,” said Judge Wenetschlaeger.

Wenetschalaeger will hear temporary orders, restraining orders, custody, and other family law issues.

“It was really hard to get a hearing date for people, and so now it’ll be more efficient. Things will move faster,” said Judge Wenetschlaeger.

Both judges are already seeing just how important their roles are.

“I was sworn in at 8:30 Monday morning and my first hearing was at 9 and I had hearings every 30 minutes until 3 or 3:30 that day, so that means I wasn’t off the bench until 4, and then of course we have paper work,” said Judge Propst.

Both dockets are full until the end of the month. CPS cases take priority over other cases because those children have potentially been abused or neglected. The statute says the CPS cases have to be heard within 14 days of removal with multiple hearings after that until the trial.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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