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AUSTIN — Texas shouldn't expect more than 300 attorneys who volunteered to represent children removed from a polygamist ranch to continue working for free, Senate budget writers warned Tuesday.
Those legal fees, even if done on a fixed-fee schedule instead of an hourly basis, could add greatly to the $30 million the case is expected to cost over the next year.
The $30 million price tag includes $5.3 million for the initial raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' ranch in West Texas and emergency sheltering of more than 460 children and some of their mothers in San Angelo last month. Added to that, the state will need $1.7 million per month to provide foster care, medical services and case management for the children.
Also, court costs are expected to skyrocket from an estimate of $2.3 million if the state decides to pay the lawyers who have traveled from around the state to West Texas to serve as attorney ad litems for the children. So far, they have been working for free.