Fundamentalist Mormons have already won the right to testify anonymously and behind screens in the reference case to determine whether the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom includes the practice of polygamy.
On Friday, they asked the B.C. Supreme Court for much more.
The lawyer for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints asked Chief Justice Robert Bauman not to allow an affidavit by RCMP Sgt. Terry Jacklin, who led the two-year investigation into the community of Bountiful.
FLDS lawyer Robert Wickett also asked Bauman to limit cross-examination of Bountiful Bishop James Oler and Bountiful elementary-secondary school principal Merrill Palmer to only the substance of their affidavits.
In Oler’s case, Wickett wants questions limited to only FLDS beliefs and practices, while Palmer’s cross-examination would be limited to the history and operation of the government-funded school.
Even though both Oler and Palmer waived their rights to anonymity, Wickett says they should not have to answer questions of a personal nature such as: How many wives do you have? How old were they when you married?
(Both men are known to be polygamists, although Palmer has never been charged. Oler was charged in 2009 with one count of polygamy, and two women’s names were listed on his indictment. The charge was eventually stayed.)
Craig Jones, the lawyer for the B.C. attorney-general, strongly opposed the FLDS request.
To counter some of the statements in Oler’s and Palmer’s affidavits, as well as some in an affidavit by expert witness Angela Campbell (whose conclusions are based on interviews with unidentified women in Bountiful), the B.C. attorney-general’s ministry wants to file an affidavit from Sgt. Terry Jacklin, who led the two-year RCMP investigation into the activities in Bountiful.
In their affidavits, Oler contends that any criminal activity in Bountiful is quickly reported to police, while Palmer says the education of children is paramount.
These related news articles will help you understand the ongoing issue of polygamy in Canada:
B.C. should prosecute polygamists, says former sect member
Where polygamy rules (Aug. 26, 2003)
Cult fears ignored (Aug. 1, 2004)
Sex abuse allegations spur probe by RCMP
B.C. politicians voice concerns over polygamy in Bountiful (Jan. 27, 2006)
British Columbia mulling charges against polygamist sect (May 10, 2007)
Canadian authorities consider charges against polygamist; Special prosecutor appointed (June 6, 2007)
Bountiful case has wide ramifications for Canadian law (July 13, 2007):
“If B.C. charges either or both of Bountiful’s leaders, Winston Blackmore and Jim Oler, with the criminal offence of practising polygamy and loses, it opens the door for the free practise of plural marriage in the guise of religion. If B.C. loses, it could even open the door to other repugnant practices, such as female genital mutilation. Certainly, Muslim groups are anxiously watching to see what happens.”
Prosecutor rejects charges in Bountiful sex abuse case (Aug. 1, 2007)
Time to test polygamy law in court: Prosecutor (Aug. 1, 2007)
Religious Rape? (Opinion, Aug. 3, 2007)
Polygamy: Criminal act or religious right? (Aug. 10, 2007)
Attorney-General appoints lawyer to revisit polygamy report (Sep. 8, 2007)
Hope springs Bountiful? (Oct. 1, 2007)
Top court must decide polygamy issue, government told (Apr. 8, 2008)
• To see where Bountiful fits in with regard to polygamous sects of the Mormon Church, check the Polygamy Leadership Tree
The battle for Bountiful
Research resources on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, on Mormon Fundamentalism, on Polygamy, and on polygamous sects of the Mormon Church