Rodney Timms, representing the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), visited Lawton and two other Southwest Oklahoma cities Wednesday as part of an effort to raise awareness of child abuse.
Judges may fall short in making critical decisions
Timms parked his truck and "Protect Kids" trailer at the Comanche County Courthouse, accompanied by state Sen. Ralph Shorty, R-Oklahoma City, who plans to sponsor legislation that would have a panel of experts, rather than a judge, make decisions concerning parental custody of children in divorce and other cases.
"We want the decision to be in the best interest of the child rather than which parent has the best attorney fighting for them," Shorty said.
Shorty said he is sponsoring this legislation based on a case in which 28-month-old Kelsey Smith-Briggs died at the hands of her mother and stepfather in 2005 at their Meeker home. Following a period in which the child was in custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the child was returned to the mother and stepfather despite objections by OKDHS officials. The mother and stepfather were convicted and are now in prison.
"We're trying to correct the system," Timms said. "There are too many cases where a judge makes a decision that is not in the best interest of the child."