The Utah Supreme Court has refused to block a judge’s order requiring the Attorney General’s Office to pay more than $5.5 million in debts associated with running the United Effort Plan, the real-estate holdings trust once controlled by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs.
That doesn’t mean the taxpayers are on the hook just yet, though. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has already filed another appeal.
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The justices decided the situation didn’t need emergency relief — rather a ” ‘plain, speedy and adequate remedy’ is available,” according to the dismissal order, filed April 19.
State attorneys had filed a petition for extraordinary writ after 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg set a 90-day deadline for the payment, but later extended the time frame, giving Shurtleff more time to argue the order is illegal.
The money is owed to Bruce Wisan, who was appointed to run the United Effort Plan trust after a 2005 state takeover, and his contractors, primarily attorneys.
He was supposed to have been paid from trust assets, but has been blocked from selling trust property since the sect began fighting the takeover in court as legal bills mounted.
Lindberg first ordered Shurtleff to pay the past-due bills, some of which were four years old, last summer.
Even though Shurtleff’s office has made one six-figure payment against the debt and is in negotiations to contribute more, state attorneys say the office can’t make a lump payment now and shouldn’t be required to.