Winston Blackmore is also trying to get his passport back
Winston Blackmore has yet to enter his plea to the criminal charge of practising polygamy, but he’s already on his third lawyer, has filed for legal aid and asked Utah’s attorney-general for help in having his bail conditions amended.
Gone from Blackmore’s legal team is former Liberal MLA Blair Suffredine, even though he attended Blackmore’s two court appearances in Creston, including one last week.
Suffredine was outspoken in his condemnation of same-sex marriages — even though two of Blackmore’s 19 “wives” listed on the indictment are married to each other — suggesting basically that we’ve gone so far down the road to destroying marriage that we might as well have polygamy, too.
Also gone is Glenn Orris, who Suffredine said would be leading the team.
Blackmore’s new lawyer is Joe Arvay, a well-known human rights and constitutional lawyer, whose firm successfully argued before the Supreme Court of Canada that the Constitution protects gays and lesbians from discrimination.
Dealing with how he gets paid may be one of Arvay’s first tasks.
Up until recently, 52-year-old Blackmore was one of the wealthiest men in the Creston Valley. He had a farm, a large ranch and several forestry companies including a post-and-pole mill, a trucking operation and logging firm with lucrative contracts with Tembec.
But Blackmore — spiritual leader to about half of the 1,000 people in Bountiful — has fallen on hard times. It’s not just the downturn in the forestry industry. Blackmore lost a large portion of his workforce when he was excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Many — including men from his own family — stuck with the FLDS, went to work for companies run by other FLDS members and pledged their loyalty to the new bishop, James Oler, and the prophet, Warren Jeffs.
Oler is also charged with one count of practising polygamy. But there’s so much bad blood between the two men that at their next court appearance on April 22 in Cranbrook, Blackmore and/or Oler may ask that their cases be severed.
There is also a valid legal reason. Although both believe that taking multiple wives is a religious imperative, the number of wives each is alleged to have and the time period of the violations are different.