Warren Jeffs lawyer-shopping

HURRICANE — Captured polygamist leader Warren Jeffs may soon have a new lawyer.

Jeffs met Thursday with Las Vegas attorney Richard Wright and another lawyer, whom jail authorities refused to identify. Washington County sheriff’s deputies also declined to release Purgatory Jail visitor logs, showing who has visited Jeffs.

Wright did not return calls seeking comment.

Several prominent criminal defense lawyers from Salt Lake City have been contacted about representing Jeffs, the Deseret Morning News has learned. Some declined to comment about whether they would represent the Fundamentalist LDS Church leader.

No formal notice of counsel has been filed in St. George’s 5th District Court, clerks said.

Jeffs is facing rape-as-an-accomplice charges, accusing him of forcing a teenage girl into a polygamous marriage with an older man. He faces up to life in prison, if convicted.

Jeffs remains in isolation at the Purgatory Jail. The Washington County sheriff told the Deseret Morning News on Thursday that Jeffs has been quietly reading books while incarcerated.

“He’s quiet. Mellow,” Sheriff Kirk Smith said. “I have no reason to expect that he’ll be anything other than a model prisoner.”

Some ex-FLDS members have expressed anger that Jeffs is being seen as a sympathetic character because he looks so frail and meek in his court appearances.

“That smirk he had — that was the smirk he would give before he damned you straight to hell,” said one woman, who asked to remain anonymous because of family still within the FLDS Church. “He’s not weak and calm and meek and mild. He’s plotting, he’s evil, and I have no sympathy for him.”

She provided the Deseret Morning News a letter said to be written by Jeffs, expressing concern about her and a friend’s “cuteness” at the now defunct Alta Academy, a private FLDS-run school at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“Often they would try to be alone by themselves to giggle and talk, avoiding participation in group activities,” Jeffs wrote in the letter dated June 1985. “When around boys, and even younger boys, they would outwardly show their cuteness, seemingly (I repeat the seemingly) to have the younger boys relate their cute behavior to older boys.”

The woman said she was kicked out of the Alta Academy by Jeffs when she was 15 for passing notes and getting into a water fight with boys. Her friend went on to become a child bride.

“She got swept away to be a wife. She never met the man. She said to me, ‘I hope he’s cute,”‘ the woman said.

In addition to the rape as an accomplice charges in Utah, the FLDS leader is facing charges of sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor across the border in Mohave County, Ariz.

Jeffs, 50, was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list until he was captured during a traffic stop outside Las Vegas last week. He waived extradition and was flown by helicopter to the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane.

Jeffs is next scheduled to appear in St. George’s 5th District Court via video hookup from Purgatory on Monday, when the judge will address issues about legal counsel and bail. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 19.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Deseret Morning News, USA
Sep. 8, 2006
Ben Winslow

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)