Utah Supreme Court moves Jeffs’ appeal hearing from BYU back to Salt Lake City

BYU venue too small

Warren Jeffs, who has led the FLDS church since 2002, is appealing his conviction on charges of being an accomplice to rape for a marriage he conducted in 2001 between Elissa Wall and Allen Steed, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Wall, who was 14 at the time, objected to the marriage to Steed, then 19.

A week after announcing plans to hold the oral arguments in polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs‘ appeal at Brigham Young University, the Utah Supreme Court has reversed itself.

The court will now hear the case at the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City, a venue that will accommodate the high interest in the case, a court spokeswoman said Thursday. Nancy Volmer said a new date to hear the appeal will be set next week.

The decision to hear the appeal at BYU, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, surprised members of the FLDS, who were concerned enough to seek views about it from their attorneys.

“We had asked our attorneys whether it was a good or bad [setting] but we had not made any conclusions on it,” said Willie Jessop, spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

He added: “We don’t have a problem with it being held at BYU if Brigham Young is making the decision, but there may be more than him influencing the decision.”

The LDS Church abandoned the practice of plural marriage in 1890 and has distanced itself from sects like the FLDS that continue to engage in it.

But that apparently had nothing to do with the decision to hear Jeffs’ case at the university, or the court’s decision to relocate it.

– Source / Full Story: Utah Supreme Court moves Jeffs’ appeal hearing from BYU back to Salt Lake City, Brooke Adams, The Salt Lake Tribune, Sep. 17, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Reportedly the BYU venue may be too small, since the hearing is expected to attract lots of attention from media and other observers.

The Salt Lake City explains, The state supreme court visits BYU’s J. Reuben Clark School of Law every fall to hear cases and then travels in the spring to the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah for the same purpose. Doing so provides “an opportunity for mainly the students to be able to observe oral arguments,” Volmer said. “It is an outreach effort the court does.”

In June, 2008 Mormon leaders stepped up efforts to make the public aware of the differences between the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), which had garnered widespread national attention in the aftermath of a raid on the sect’s Texas property by Child Protective Services.

There are dozens of polygamous sects of Mormons, virtually all created in response to the ever shifting doctrines of the Mormon Church — and particularly after the LDS church abandoned its doctrine of polygamy.

Polygamy and the Birth of Mormon Fundamentalist Sects

• Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, “described plural marriage as part of “the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on earth” and taught that a man needed at least three wives to attain the “fullness of exaltation” in the afterlife. He warned that God had explicitly commanded that “all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same … and if ye abide not that covenenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.” (John Krakauer, Under The Banner of Heaven, Doubleday (July 15, 2003), pages 5, 6.)

• However, the god of Mormonism — a religion that, theologically, is a cult of Christianity — constantly changes his mind; reason why the doctrines of the Mormon Church often change (interestingly, whenever doing so is convenient to the Mormon Church).

• The Mormon Church’s rejection (sort of…) of polygamy directly led to the formatation of various sects of Mormonism. Though the the LDS/Mormon Church disavows them, collectively these sects are referred to as Mormon Fundamentalists.

As a matter of fact, the doctrines and practices of Mormon Fundamentalists are closer to those of the original Mormon Church than are the doctrines and practices of today’s Mormon Church.

See Also

Research resources on Mormonism, Mormon Fundamentalism, and Polygamy.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday September 18, 2009.
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