SALT LAKE CITY — A juvenile court judge has delayed a Monday hearing to announce her decision to either return the children of a prominent polygamist to their mother’s care, or keep them in state custody.
A state courts spokeswoman said on Friday a personal emergency is forcing 3rd District Juvenile Judge Elizabeth Lindsley to postpone the hearing.
The nature of the emergency was not disclosed.
Lindsley was contacting attorneys to reschedule the hearing for the earliest date possible, possibly Aug. 23, one attorney said.
The third judge to consider the case, last month Lindsley held a multi-day hearing to hear arguments from attorneys from parents John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly, as well as state attorneys, who want to terminate the couple’s parental rights.
Kingston and Mattingly have 11 children together. Most have been in state custody since October. Foster has custody of an infant girl, and boys ages 10 and 16.
The others remain in foster care. Two of those — girls ages 14 and 17 who were placed in state custody 18 months ago — have said they do not want to return home.
A custody decision had been expected in June, but 3rd District Juvenile Judge Andrew Valdez, who had had the case for 16 months, was asked to step down because his son scuffled with Kingston supporters outside the courthouse.
A second judge took the case but withdrew days later because of previous involvement in prosecuting a Kingston relative.
State attorneys say Mattingly has been slow to meet court orders for behavioral changes that will protect her children from the abuse and neglect that led to state intervention in the family’s life.
Mattingly’s attorney disagrees, saying his client has participated in individual counseling, domestic violence training and is working with a peer parent so that she can be reunited with her children.
Mattingly’s therapist also says the 33-year-old mother has made progress. Bonnie Peters, executive director of the Family Support Center, says Mattingly recognizes her past failures as a parent.
Kingston has been barred from contact with the children since November.