The Utah Supreme Court on Friday said a polygamous sect waited too long to object to a state takeover of its historic property trust, rejecting its bid to undo changes made to the United Effort Plan Trust.
In its 20-page unanimous ruling, the court said the FLDS failed to explain the delay in challenging the state’s control of the UEP Trust, which began in 2005.
While the sect negotiated with the state to resolve disputes over the trust in 2008, that did not “excuse a nearly three-year delay in petitioning this court of extraordinary relief,” the opinion said.
The sect’s silence “gave the district court every reason to believe that the reformation had occurred without opposition,” wrote Associate Chief Justice Matthew Durrant, who authored the opinion.
It said all of the sect’s claims were barred because of that delay except one, which is not yet “ripe” for consideration — that the continuing administration of the trust violates FLDS members’ constitutional rights because it proposes a religious test for distribution of property to trust beneficiaries.
But since no property has been distributed, that claim cannot yet be made, the court said.
The court sided with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, which argued that members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ignored numerous opportunities to participate in the changes to and management of the trust. The state argued that FLDS members’ attempt to intervene came too late — three years after the state took over the trust and two years after it was reformed.