LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Pulaski County juvenile court judge has been subpoenaed to answer questions about her alleged refusal to give priority to relatives in the placement of children who are in state custody.

Circuit judge Patricia James was subpoenaed by the Joint Performance Review Committee on Tuesday, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2bBwRdh ) reports.

Former Children and Family Services Division director Cecile Blucker told the committee in March that James almost always sent children into foster care or group homes. State law requires that family members be given placement preference.

James has previously told the newspaper that it’s in the child’s best interest if family members were thoroughly vetted first. Investigators currently have 72 hours to petition the court for a child’s placement, which James said is not nearly enough time.

Blucker and James were not at the committee meeting on Tuesday, where some members commented that James had failed to respond to committee questions since April.

“The power of this committee is to investigate. We don’t set policy, we don’t interfere,” said Republican state Sen. Alan Clark. “But it is highly unusual that anyone does not answer an invitation to a legislative committee and especially that staff does not return phone calls.”

The meeting with James has been scheduled for Oct. 4. The subpoena also applies to documents and records maintained by the Department of Human Services.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com