A police officer in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., is asking a judge to protect him — from the lawyers for the man in charge of the Fundamentalist LDS Church's financial arm.
A judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court will consider today whether or not to grant a protective order to Hildale/Colorado City Town Marshal Helaman Barlow. The protective order seeks to limit the kinds of questions that lawyers for the United Effort Plan Trust can ask.
"In his deposition, Deputy Barlow was repeatedly asked questions about members of his church, about his belief in his church, about the organization of the church and about its leadership," Barlow's lawyer, Barbara Townsend, wrote in a motion for a protective order filed Sept. 21. "Not only are these inquiries far afield from the subject matter of this case, they seek privileged information."
Barlow is standing by his First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
Lawyers for court-appointed special fiduciary Bruce Wisan have been grilling Barlow about FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and UEP property that has disappeared. In court papers, they have characterized Barlow as a "defiant witness who repeatedly gave evasive answers, who utterly refused to provide testimony as to a number of relevant areas of inquiry."
Lawyer Zachary Shields is asking the judge to compel Barlow to answer the questions.
In 2005, the Utah Attorney General's Office asked a judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court to freeze the assets of the UEP Trust, claiming that Jeffs and other FLDS leaders had been fleecing the $110 million financial empire.
Judge Denise Lindberg ousted the UEP's trustees, placing Wisan in charge and appointing an advisory board made up of many ex-FLDS members. She recently signed a reform plan for the UEP, which overhauls the trust and paves the way for private property ownership.
Jeffs, 50, is facing criminal charges in St. George's 5th District Court accusing him of forcing a 14-year-old girl into a marriage with her 19-year-old cousin. Jeffs' preliminary hearing is scheduled to conclude on Dec. 14, when a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to make him stand trial on charges of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony.
Jeffs was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list until his arrest during a traffic stop outside Las Vegas in August.