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10th Circuit Weighs in on Utah Decisions on Polygamous Sect

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 01, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals weighing in on cases involving a polygamous sect in Utah, the Utah Supreme Court will have to wait it out before ruling on the two cases.

Both of the cases involve the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One case deals with the legal authority of certain sect members within the greater legal dispute, whereas the other case deals with the disqualification of the Church’s attorney, Rod Parker, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

The original lawsuit deals with the $110 million United Effort Plan Trust, which holds most of the land for the Church.

The sect is fighting to regain control of the Trust, which was taken over by the state of Utah in 2005, after allegations of mismanagement arose. Fingers were pointed at Church leaders, including Warren Jeffs, who is currently the head of the Church and is completing jail time in Texas on charges of bigamy, aggravated sexual assault and assault, writes Deseret News.

In the legal battle, there has been a rift between the state judicial bodies and the federal ones. Federal District Judge Dee Benson and State Court Judge Denise Lindberg have been in disagreement since February, writes Deseret News, when Benson called the state action overseeing the Trust an unconstitutional "virtual takeover".

Subsequently, Benson ordered the church's assets returned to its leaders and prohibited any further state action with regards to the management of the trust.

The state court, in response, ordered that a special fiduciary keep control over the assets of the Trust, agreeing that no action should be taken until the issue is resolved and subsequently, appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Trust holds property in Utah, Arizona, British Columbia and Texas.

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