Judge Appoints Attorney to Jeffs Case
(San Angelo, TX) – Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had legal representation. Then he fired his legal representation. Then he had legal representation appointed to him.
Fifty-first District Court Judge Barbara Walther appointed Fred Brigman, a San Angelo attorney, to Jeffs case after Jeffs discharged his counsel during a pretrial hearing Wednesday afternoon.
Jeffs asked the judge to give him more time in an unprepared speech during which he cautiously pronounced every word and spent time looking slightly down from Walther’s bench as he spoke.
Before he made his address, the prosecution, headed by Eric Nichols, asked for the court to appoint an attorney to Jeffs and to set the date for the trial to cover both aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault for February 21.
“I think the court’s concerns on the time limit are well founded,” Nichols said. He referred to a 120-day period that Walther has said she believes applies to Jeffs as a deadline for prosecuting Jeffs since he was extradited to Texas from Utah.
Polygamist Sect Leader Fires His New Attorney
Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs fired his attorney Wednesday just hours after hiring him, prompting a West Texas judge to delay a trial on sexual assault charges after Jeffs said he would need more time to find a lawyer who “suits my needs.”
Gerry Morris, a prominent Austin-based lawyer, told district court Judge Barbara Walther during a morning pretrial hearing that he would represent Jeffs as long as a trial on sexual assault charges set to begin Jan. 21 was pushed back to give him time to prepare.
But in a subsequent late-afternoon hearing, Morris said Jeffs had “discharged” him. He did not elaborate and said after the hearing that he could not comment.
Jeffs, the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is accused of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and bigamy. Prosecutors say Jeffs had sex with two children, one under age 14 and the other under age 17, and re-arraigned Jeffs during the earlier hearing so that all counts of sexual assault could be heard in a single trial — with a separate trial to be held in the bigamy case
After Morris said he would not represent Jeffs, Walther turned to the defendant and said “Mr. Jeffs, what do you propose to do?”
After a long pause, state prosecutor Eric Nichols stood up and said Jeffs was using an apparent “strategy for more time” but that he had been unwilling even to sign a waiver that would have allowed prosecutors to delay the start of his first trial.
Nichols then proposed that the trial for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault be pushed back until Feb. 21 and that the bigamy case remain slated to start March 14.
Austin Attorney Gerry Morris Takes Warren Jeffs Case
Gerry Morris, an Austin attorney, entered an appearance for Jeffs at a pretrial hearing Wednesday on the condition that new trial dates be considered.
“The court will be glad to work with you,” 51st District Judge Barbara Walther said.
The judge had set the dates for Jeffs cases within 120 days to be in accordance with extradition laws.
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