Fundamentalist LDS Church leader leader Warren Jeffs intends to appeal his 2007 conviction on two counts of rape as an accomplice to the Utah Supreme Court. Full story published May 19th, 2008 in the Deseret News. An additional six-page article published by the Deseret News on May 20th discusses Jeffs' continuing influence upon the Texas FLDS community despite his incarceration.
According to court docket information, attorneys for Jeffs last week filed a notice of appeal with the state supreme court. The notice is expected to be followed by a legal brief by Jeffs outlining why he thinks his conviction should be overturned. The state will then have an opportunity to file its reply brief.
The notice comes after 5th District Judge James Shumate denied Jeffs' request for a new trial. Jeffs was convicted by a Washington County jury for his role in arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin. He is awaiting trial on similar charges in Arizona, and according to another Deseret News story, is asking that a grand jury indictment on charges of sexual misconduct and incest be dropped.
The 52-year-old leader of the FLDS Church claims his rights were violated when one juror was dismissed and an alternate juror was seated after 13 hours of deliberations had already passed. Attorneys for Jeffs say it was possible that the jury had already reached a verdict on the first count and had indicated to the court they were deadlocked on the second count when the juror was dismissed.
Commentary: Undoubtedly, Jeffs is empowered by the fact that a growing number of Americans have become outraged over the broad-brushed treatment directed towards Texas FLDS members by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
With the real possibility that the Texas FLDS crisis was perpetrated by a bogus complaint from a black impersonator, this opens up the possibility that Warren Jeffs has been similarly misrepresented. A new pro-FLDS blog, FLDS View, posted the following on Jeffs:
I didn’t want to address the fact that Warren Jeffs is considered by most people as a criminal. It is almost impossible for my brain to even comprehend that he was on the FBI top ten most wanted list. I still have to think about it over and over again. Are you kidding me? Warren Jeffs? The guy who couldn’t harm a flea? The skinny guy who got his ribs cracked by my brother while playing dare base? They guy who Mrs. Wall [Elissa's mother, our English teacher] beat in an arm wrestle? FBI TOP TEN? When am I going to wake up? I need somebody to slap me. Hello?
So what is the crime? Performing weddings? Family counseling? Top Ten? Being the Father to his children and the husband to his wives? FBI MOST WANTED? HELLOO?
It blows the mind. And proves to me the the FLDS church is God's church. And proves to me that Warren is the Prophet, for you can see how right something is by how hated and lied about it is.
I know for a fact that the lost boys, Shem Fischer, Jane Doe [Elissa Wall], and most especially his nephew Brent, are plain lying. I was there. Dan Fischer, (the rich dentist who helped the seniors buy Warren Jeffs a brand new van), is behind all four of these lawsuits. They are frivolous, bogus, and that nephew one is absolutely disgusting.
The reason Warren did not fight these lawsuits is obvious to me, knowing the man as I do. There are several obvious reasons. One is the fact that he has no desire to confront his nephew,and his memory induced by a psychiatrist. There are hundreds of witnesses to the times and events around Brent and his uncles who could refute the charges, including Brent’s own brothers and sisters. But who would want to? Uncle Warren had zero desire to ask anyone to go to court and listen to such filthy garbage. He even asked the people to not read the newspapers when the story came out. It is repugnant and appalling.
Another reason [which may have been a bad one in hindsight] was the sheer cost it would put on the FLDS people. Warren Jeffs has no money of his own, all of his substinance comes from the donations of the people. He knew that very well and would rather spend the donations building homes for the people than spending it and going into debt to pay lawyers.
The thought that anyone believes the lawsuits are legitimate is rather insulting to me personally. Not that my integrity is unimpugnable, but realize, just for one minute, that I willingly left my beautiful wife whom I would die for, I left my sweet angelic children who are worth more than all the world to me, and I left all of my wonderful friends and family in the FLDS; because I know that this is the only way for me to gain the integrity that I didn’t have. I would rather die than lie, because I know that God sees and hears everything I do and everything I think. To give up what I have proves how much I know he is innocent.
This, of course, is a much different picture of the Warren Jeffs portrayed by his enemies and regurgitated by much of the media, except for the Deseret News, which at least pays lip service to objectivity. Part of the problem is that Jeffs isn't as photogenic, articulate, and cannot work the media as well as another polygamist, Tom Green, who, when he was tried on similar charges, waged an impressive and articulate public relations offensive. However, the offensive impressed neither former Juab County Attorney David Leavitt, who tried him, nor the jury that convicted him.
Warren Jeffs deserves the opportunity to tell his story unfiltered, without the media bias. He should not be implicitly held responsible for the sins committed by other polygamous communities in the past.
For the latest and most detailed print coverage of the FLDS 60-day trials currently taking place in San Angelo, Texas, visit the San Angelo Standard-Times website.