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Trust lawyers ask judge for Jeffs' jailhouse conversations

HILDALE — Lawyers for the United Effort Plan Trust have asked a judge to force the Washington County sheriff and the county attorney to hand over tapes and transcripts of jailhouse conversations Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs has had with his followers.

An Oct. 17 deadline to reply to subpoenas went unanswered, so an attorney for the court-appointed special fiduciary of the UEP Trust filed a motion in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court asking a judge to make them comply.

"They didn't give us the documents, so the next step in enforcing the subpoenas is to move to compel," attorney Jeffrey L. Shields said Friday night.

The fiduciary's attorneys have demanded "any and all communications (including oral and written statements) made by Warren Jeffs to any person while he has been incarcerated at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County, Utah. This includes communications made by telephone and in person to jailhouse visitors."

The subpoenas do not request conversations Jeffs had with his criminal defense team, which are protected by a legal right to attorney-client privilege. They were served in an effort to glean information about how the UEP Trust was being managed, Shields said.

A judge in St. George's 5th District Court has ordered a recorded jailhouse conversation to be sealed, claiming the contents of the tapes could prejudice future criminal cases pending against Jeffs.

Meanwhile, the judge has scheduled a Nov. 6 hearing to discuss requests by news media outlets and a private investigator to have the tapes and papers unsealed.

Jeffs, 51, is awaiting sentencing in 5th District Court after he was convicted of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. He was accused of performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. Jeffs faces up to life in prison when he's sentenced Nov. 20.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com