An attorney for polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs is demanding the return of personal papers seized from the fugitive’s vehicle in a traffic stop near Las Vegas.
The ”sacred” papers constitute privileged communication between the spiritual leader and followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, attorney Richard Wright said in an emergency motion filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
Jeffs was captured Aug. 28 and sent days later to Utah to face state charges of rape by accomplice. He is accused of arranging a marriage between an underage girl and an older man.
Wright said the papers, laptops and recording devices seized from Jeffs’ vehicle are protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
”These records include confidential religious writings and teachings of the FLDS, as well as privileged communications with FLDS members,” the attorney’s motion says.
Wright asked a federal judge to privately review the documents before making the information public.
Jeffs, 50, was arrested on Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas after more than a year on the run and three months on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper stopped the red 2007 Cadillac Escalade because its temporary Colorado license tag was too hard to read. Inside was Jeffs, a brother who was driving and one of his estimated 40 wives. Both were released after Jeffs’ capture.
FBI agents have said they found $54,000 in cash, cell phones, wigs, a police scanner, GPS device and ledgers with the names of people who offered shelter and money to Jeffs while he was on the lam.
Jeffs remained in a Washington County jail on Saturday, awaiting a status hearing set for Monday when he was to announce his selection of a Utah attorney. Wright, a Nevada lawyer, has been advising Jeffs but isn’t licensed to practice law in Utah.
Wright and another lawyer who couldn’t be identified huddled with Jeffs on Thursday at the jail in Hurricane where deputies are refusing to release visitor logs, which could identify Jeffs’ visitors.