Another judge withdraws from Kingston case

A second judge has withdrawn from the child welfare case of polygamist John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly Foster, less than one week after taking over.

Like the judge before him, 3rd District Juvenile Court Judge C. Dane Nolan denied any “animosity or prejudice” toward parties in the case.

But in a lengthy statement accompanying his decision Thursday to step down from the case, Nolan said his prosecution of a member of the Kingston clan in 1999 “could lead one to reasonably question my impartiality.”

While working as a deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney, Nolan successfully prosecuted David Ortell Kingston for having sexual relations with his then 16-year-old niece – Mary Ann Kingston, a daughter of John Daniel Kingston by another woman.

Nolan said as the prosecutor he was privy to police reports and a personal interview with Mary Ann Kingston in which she alleged abuse by her father, who was eventually convicted of a felony and sentenced to jail. The state cites Mary Ann Kingston’s abuse case as evidence in the current child welfare matter, which Nolan says he didn’t know about when asked to take the case.

In addition, Nolan says prior to newspaper accounts that were published after he was assigned the case, he was unaware that Mary Ann Kingston had sued her father and other immediate family members. Mary Ann Kingston filed a civil lawsuit in August 2003 seeking more than $110 million from the entire clan for colluding to force her into marrying her uncle.

Nolan said he knew a lawsuit “of some kind” had been filed, but stressed: “I did not know who the defendants were. I was certainly unaware that I am a potential witness in that case. No notice has ever been sent to me; no attorney or investigator has ever contacted me; no subpoena has been delivered to me; and no person has asked to depose me.”

The Kingston/Mattingly Foster case was reassigned Thursday to 3rd District Juvenile Court Judge Elizabeth A. Lindsley. She was appointed to the bench in 2002 by then-Gov. Mike Leavitt.

Kingston’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday. But neither the state nor Mattingly Foster’s lawyer have cited any objection to Lindsley.

Before Nolan’s appointment, Judge Andrew Valdez presided over the case, which began in February 2004, when a dispute between the couple and their two oldest daughters over ear piercing led to findings of ongoing abuse and neglect. Valdez withdrew from the case June 24, a few weeks after a scuffle between his son and Kingston supporters outside the courtroom.

Lindsley will pick up the case where it left off. A scheduling conference has been set for Tuesday in Lindsley’s West Jordan courtroom, which means the case won’t likely resume for another week.

Tired of delays, Mattingly Foster said Thursday she looks forward to the permanency hearing where the judge will weigh whether to proceed with a plan to reunite her with six of her children still in state custody. John Daniel Kingston’s parental rights have been suspended and he is barred from contacting the 11 children he has with Mattingly Foster.

The state has long pushed to terminate the couple’s parental rights.

But Mattingly Foster’s attorney, Gary Bell, said his client has complied with the court-ordered reunification plan. “All that [Lindsley] should be determining at this stage is whether Heidi has done what she’s supposed to do. She has, and the children should be sent home,” said Bell.

Because Valdez may be aware of evidence not included in court transcripts or filings, such as personal interviews with the children, Bell said he would not object to Lindsley interviewing the children.

State court spokeswoman Nancy Volmer says under court rules, Lindsley may also interview Valdez.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Salt Lake Tribune, USA
July 1, 2005
Kirsten Stewart
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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday July 1, 2005.
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