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ATTORNEY IN IDAHO SUIT ALLOWED TO WITHDRAW

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The attorney representing a group suing Idaho State University and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over a property deal has been allowed to withdraw from the case.

Magistrate Judge Mikel Williams agreed with Boise attorney Bernard Zaleha's argument that he has a conflict of interest with Idaho State political science professor Tom Hale, who is described by Williams in court documents as the "mastermind" of the plaintiff's case.The suit, challenging a land swap between the university and the church, was filed in July in U.S. District Court. Plaintiffs are Jatina Greenhalgh, Helen Clays, Dawn Lattin and Leonard Sisk, all of Pocatello, and William H. Aldrich of American Falls.

Zaleha told Williams he had been retained by a client to collect an unpaid judgment against Hale and is defending the same client against Hale in a related defamation suit.

Williams' order gives the plaintiffs until Feb. 16 to find another attorney or the case will be dismissed.

Idaho State legal counsel Kelly Wiltbank said the plaintiffs have amended the complaint to oppose graduation prayers and the university's practice of offering religious course work.

Idaho State would cede a parking lot to the church for construction of a new LDS Institute of Religion, as well as some space on Bartz Field for a new stake center.

Idaho State would take over the current institute building, using it for classroom and office space.