Utah Supreme Court: FLDS challenge too late

The Salt Lake Tribune/August 28, 2010

A polygamous sect lost a key battle Friday in a quest to reclaim control of its historic property trust from the state.

The Utah Supreme Court unanimously ruled members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints waited too long to challenge the court takeover and restructuring of the United Effort Plan Trust.

The sect offered no explanation for its nearly three-year delay in raising legal objections, the high court said, and its silence "gave the district court every reason to believe that the [2006] reformation had occurred without opposition."

The court said the delay barred all but one claim in the sect's petition: that a proposed property distribution includes an unconstitutional religious test.

The justices didn't rule on that hypothetical claim, saying the sect had not yet cited any instance where "an active FLDS member received a lesser delegation of property because of his or her religious beliefs."

The Utah Attorney General's Office said in court filings the FLDS ignored numerous opportunities to participate in revising the trust after it was taken over in 2005.

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he hopes the high court's decision will prompt FLDS members to stop fighting in court, recognize the authority of trust manager Bruce R. Wisan and make requests for property deeds.

"All this ongoing litigation is not acceptable," Shurtleff said. "We need to get it out of the courts and resolve it."

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