U.S. attorney says leader’s effort to get evidence against him sealed is premature
Sealing would be premature since discussions are underway between Jeffs and a federal “taint team” of attorneys to “mutually review and attempt to compromise” on which items can be used in prosecuting him, according to documents filed Wednesday.
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“If after review and discussion both the United States and Mr. Jeffs reach an accord regarding the privilege issues, there will be nothing for this court to decide,” the motion states.
Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was arrested during a traffic stop on I-15 north of Las Vegas on Aug. 28, ending a 15-month nationwide search.
Jeffs faces criminal charges in Utah and Arizona related to his role officiating at arranged marriages. He also faces federal unlawful flight charges in both states.
The sect leader wants hundreds of papers and computer files seized during his arrest returned or sealed. Jeffs maintains the material is privileged correspondence protected by religious and free speech rights and cannot be used in the criminal cases against him.
That same constitutional protection bars other parties from seeing the materials, Jeffs argues. Among those who want access is Bruce R. Wisan, a court-appointed fiduciary running a property trust set up by the sect. He claims the documents may shed light on trust assets.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office disputes that the papers are constitutionally protected from use in the criminal proceedings. Prosecutors also say that it’s too soon for Jeffs to worry about disclosure to third parties, because both sides are still reviewing the documents in an attempt to agree on what can be used in the criminal cases.
In addition, the government points out that Jeffs waived his right to review the material unless his attorney was present and says that contradicts his claims that he needs the papers now.