Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: March 3, 2015
Sen. Ron Sharp
rights termination measure heads to House
On Monday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 261
to allow courts to terminate the parental rights of anyone who,
after being properly notified of their court date and without good
cause, does not show up for their jury trial. The measure, by Sen.
is an effort to hold individuals in parental rights’ cases
more accountable and help save time for backlogged courts.
“When someone requests a jury trial to fight for their parental
rights, they need to show up or let their attorney know they can’t
make it. To not do so is disrespectful to their child, the court,
jury and attorneys,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “Our courts
are so backlogged with cases that they don’t have the time
to spare on continuing a trial, which they are required to do under
current law, for someone who obviously doesn’t care. This
bill will ensure that courts aren’t tied up in further proceedings
and that taxpayer money isn’t wasted.”
During the termination of parental rights, parents can request a
trial by jury. If for some reason they can’t make it, they
can let their attorney know and the trial will be rescheduled. However,
courts are faced with situations where these parents do not show
up and do not contact their attorney to provide a reason for their
absence. Under current law, whether the parent shows up or not,
the trial must continue at a cost to taxpayers.
SB 261 specifies that a parent who requests a jury trial and fails
to appear, after proper notice and without good cause, or fails
to instruct his or her attorney to proceed in absentia at the trial,
will be deemed by the court to have waived the jury demand and will
be adjudicated to have consented to the termination of his or her
parental rights. The court may vacate such order, terminating parental
rights pursuant to the procedures outlined in statute.
SB 261 now goes to the House for further consideration.
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