LifeSiteNews and The Texan have filed a joint Writ of Mandamus requesting Judge Kim Cooks allow media access to her courtroom for all future hearings for this case and that she remove the “unconstitutional” gag order placed on Jeffrey Younger, the father who objected to his seven-year-old son, James, being “transitioned” to a girl.
LifeSiteNews and The Texan “seek emergency action to prevent further infringement, requesting mandamus to require Judge Cooks to respect Relators’ freedom of the press, lift the trial court’s illegal, unnoticed, and unsupportable order preventing disfavored media coverage, and to lift the trial court’s gag order of Mr. Younger.”
On October 24, 2019, LifeSiteNews, The Texan, and other independent news agencies were locked out of Judge Kim Cooks’ courtroom for her final ruling on the contentious custody battle while other media were allowed in. The only reason the case eventually gained national media attention was because of coverage from LifeSiteNews and The Texan.
Mr. Jeffrey Younger was fighting to prevent his ex-wife Dr. Anne Georgulas from subjecting James to a gender “transition.” Dr. Georgulas had enrolled James in school as a girl since kindergarten and medical records indicate she planned to seek a medical “transition” for him as early as next year.
The battle sparked a public outcry after a jury ruled against Mr. Younger’s request for sole managing conservator. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for an investigation into the situation, as did other conservative leaders.
Prior to the jury ruling, no mainstream media reported on the trial. Only LifeSiteNews and The Texan were present for the entire trial. A Russian reporter was present for the first part of the trial, but not for its entirety. At no point during the trial were any of the reporters asked for credentials.
On October 24, however, close to 75 people were waiting in the foyer to listen to Judge Cooks read her ruling on the case. At the appointed time, the bailiffs opened the doors and allowed only media members with a hard card press pass to enter the courtroom.
Despite showing other credentials, business cards, news pieces, drivers’ licenses, and other forms of identification, independent media was denied access. A personal friend of Judge Cooks, Cydney Walker, was allowed into the courtroom without a press pass.
After the ruling, LifeSiteNews asked Ms. Walker how she was able to enter the courtroom without a press pass. Ms. Walker informed LifeSiteNews that Judge Cooks had texted her asking her to come. She showed the text to the bailiff and was allowed entry without a press pass.
The Writ of Mandamus argues that Judge Cooks violated “freedom of press as guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Texas and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.” The filing questions the legality of the institution of an arbitrary restraint for media entrance to the courtroom.
Additionally, the writ of mandamus argues that the gag order placed on Mr. Younger is unconstitutional.
The filing highlights the lack of “imminent and irreparable harm” to the children needed to legally justify a gag order. Judge Cooks’ ruling states the gag order was implemented “due to serious concern for the protection and welfare of the children.”