Polygamist’s attorney under fire

Sanctions sought: The Guardian ad Litem’s Office says the lawyer violated three civil procedure rules in his juvenile court filings

The Guardian ad Litem’s Office is seeking sanctions against an attorney representing polygamist John Daniel Kingston in a protracted child welfare case, claiming he filed frivolous, error-laden motions in the matter.

In a hearing Tuesday, Guardian ad Litem Anthony Ferdon cited three motions filed by attorney Daniel Irvin that were either untimely, or misstated and ignored facts, violations of Rule 11 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure for court proceedings. The rule requires that filings be made “without improper purpose,” have factual support and be warranted by existing law.

Sanctions for violating the rule can include a fine, a reprimand or an order to pay expenses incurred answering the filings.

The Guardian’s office filed the Rule 11 motion in February with 3rd District Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Valdez, then presiding over hearings involving Kingston’s 11 children with Heidi Mattingly Foster.

To avoid a conflict of interest, Valdez asked Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen, of the 7th District in Price, to hear the Guardian’s motion.

Ferdon said one of Irvin’s motions questioned whether the child welfare case was properly brought to juvenile court because the Guardian ad Litem’s office did not first make a referral to the Division of Child and Family Services or properly serve his client. That motion, Ferdon said, was untimely because Irvin filed it in January, more than six months after Valdez made an initial finding of abuse and neglect against Kingston.

Ferdon also said a referral from Child Protective Services to DCFS was pending at the time his office brought the case to court, which made a second referral duplicative.

Johansen seemed to agree, saying, “It seems like a no brainer to me. That sounds like a Rule 11 violation.”

Irvin defended the action, saying he began representing Kingston several months after the child welfare case began and then had trouble getting court documents that would have allowed him to make his motion sooner or clarify points in it.

Another motion sought to have Kristin Brewer, director of the Guardian ad Litem’s office, disqualified from the case for various reasons, such as failing to correct inaccurate court statements, interfering with the children’s therapist and taking an overly broad role in the case.

Ferdon said Irvin proceeded with the motion despite knowing Brewer had corrected the information and that he relied on false information from Mattingly Foster regarding Brewer’s interactions with the therapist.

Irvin’s third motion sought independent psychological evaluations for the children – which Irvin told Johansen didn’t constitute a Rule 11 violation.

Johansen will not make a decision in the case until receiving additional briefings from the attorneys, which are due in August.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Salt Lake Tribune, USA
July 20, 2005
Brooke Adams

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday July 20, 2005.
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