Polygamist appeals bigamy convictions to Utah high court

SALT LAKE CITY — Polygamist Tom Green has appealed his bigamy convictions to the state’s highest court, arguing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning a Texas sodomy law supports his case.

The recent Supreme Court ruling argued against singling out any one purportedly immoral group, wrote Green’s attorney, John Bucher, in documents filed Aug. 15 with the Utah Supreme Court.

Utah’s laws against bigamy create “a prosecution based on the moral disapproval of the practice,” he wrote.

Green has challenged the constitutionality of Utah’s bigamy laws in his appeal of his convictions on four counts of bigamy and one count of criminal nonsupport.

Supporting Green, the Utah Civil Rights & Liberties Foundation has argued Utah’s bigamy law violates the First Amendment as applied to plural marriages based on religious beliefs. The state has argued on appeal the law does not single out any one group as it applies to all bigamous relationships regardless of religion.

The high court will hear arguments in the case this fall.

During his trial, Green denied that he lived with any of his wives exclusively or that he intended to be husband and wife with them in any legal sense. At trial, Green argued he was only “spiritually,” not legally, married to five women. But a judge determined Green had a common law marriage with first wife Linda Kunz, and jurors found him guilty for cohabitating with the other women.

Green’s wives are employed and living with their 25 children in townhouses. Green, also convicted of child rape, is serving a sentence of five years to life at the Utah State Prison.

Green was convicted of child rape because Kunz was 13 when the two were wed in a spiritual ceremony and began having sex.

In last week’s filing, Bucher also argued the determination of marriage as part of Green’s criminal case violated court rules.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Texas case has also been cited by attorneys for Rodney Holm, the Hildale, Utah, police officer convicted Aug. 14 of bigamy and unlawful sexual activity. Holm and others in his community belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members actively practice plural marriage.

The larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disavowed polygamy in 1890 and now excommunicates members who practice it.

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