The Houston Family Law Blog

Texas Polygamist Sect Leader Warren Jeffs Fires Another Attorney

Texas polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs goes through lawyers like he did wives. Jeffs recently fired his seventh attorney, reports KTRK Houston, and now has decided to go it alone -- something he presumably didn't try with marriage.

Jeffs was arrested in 2008, during a raid at Yearning for Zion, located about 45 miles south of San Angelo. More than 400 children were taken away from the compound, as well as women who looked like they were from the 19th century.

The investigation had been triggered by an anonymous call to an abuse shelter, which is what allowed the authorities to get a search warrant. While on the compound the authorities discovered that there were girls as young as eleven who were pregnant.

At that point Warren Jeffs and eleven other men from the "Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" or FLDS were arrested and booked for sexual assault.

Seven of the men that have so far been prosecuted have been convicted, even though the FLDS has a land trust worth $110 million to defend them. They have received sentences between 6 and 75 years.

A polygamist marriage is not recognized under the law. Once a polygamist marriage is discovered it will be "annulled" -- as if the marriage never took place. Annulment is not the same thing as a divorce, because getting a divorce implies that a marriage was valid to begin with.

Recently, there has been some attempt by polygamous couples to challenge the laws that criminalize multiple marriages. The polygamist family featured on the TLC show "Sister Wives" has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Utah's criminal bigamy law. The plaintiffs allege that the law violates the United States Constitution by punishing a consensual private relationship without demonstrating any harm to society or the participants in the relationship, writes FindLaw's Courtside blog.

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