A Lubbock, Texas, couple seeking to end their marriage requested a jury trial. Although somewhat unusual, Texas state law does allow for a jury trial in divorce cases upon request. The case, which was high profile because the husband’s father is a city attorney, and was previously accused by the wife of sexually molesting her at the couples’ home, has ended, for now, in a mistrial declared by the judge.
The problem, he determined, is that the jury wound up hearing testimony regarding the sexual molestation accusation, despite the testimony having been previously prohibited. The judge was afraid that the jury would not be able to disregard testimony about the accusation offered by an expert witness for the wife. That witness, who served as a therapist for the couple’s children, responded to a question from the wife’s attorney about what was upsetting the couple’s 13-year-old daughter by relating that she had stated, during a therapy session that her mother had been sexually molested by her grandfather, her father’s father.
The accused city attorney is currently on leave as a result of the accusation, but no charges are currently pending. He was booked into a county detention center for approximately a day on suspicion of domestic assault. The case is currently listed as closed in court records, and attorneys for both parties were instructed not to have their witnesses mention the accusation in front of the jury.
The wife claims that she was coerced into signing a document not to prosecute her father-in-law, an accusation her husband denies. The couple’s two children are currently split up, with the 10-year-old boy in the custody of the wife, and the daughter in the custody of her father. The jury in the case will be involved in settling disputed support, child custody, and property division issues. Experienced Texas divorce attorneys know when asking for a jury trial can be advantageous in a divorce case, and how to evaluate the case to determine this.
Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, “Mistrial declared in Medina divorce trial after reference to sex assault allegations” Gabriel Monte, Feb. 14, 2014