A state appellate court has ruled that child welfare officials had no right to seize more than 400 children living at a polygamist sect's ranch.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the grounds for removing the children were "legally and factually insufficient" under Texas law. They did not immediately order the return of the children.
Child welfare officials removed the children on the grounds that the sect pushed underage girls into marriage and sex and trained boys to become future perpetrators.
The appellate court ruled the chaotic hearing held last month did not demonstrate the children were in any immediate danger, the only measure of taking children from their homes without court proceedings.