Lawyer fees too high, judge slashes them in FLDS land case

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The border town of Hildale, Utah. (FOX 13 file image)

SALT LAKE CITY — A judge has slashed attorney’s fees in the ongoing land battle involving the Fundamentalist LDS Church.

In an order filed last week, 3rd District Court Judge Denise Lindberg cut the fees of lawyers representing the court-appointed accountant who oversees the United Effort Plan Trust. The judge cut the fees by five percent; the Utah and Arizona attorneys general asked for it to be slashed 10-percent.

The judge said some of the work billed by Callister, Nebeker & McCullough was “unnecessary,” even after the law firm offered a $50,000 discount because of a duplication of efforts in the massive land case. The Utah and Arizona attorneys general had complained and sought even more of a discount.

Now, the firm will be paid a little more than $842,000 for their work over most of last year, instead of the $888,000 they had originally requested.

Read the judge’s order here:

In 2005, the courts took control of the UEP Trust which controls homes, land and businesses in Hildale, Utah; and Colorado City, Ariz., over allegations that FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and others had mismanaged it. Since then, it’s become mired in debt and legal fees, which has been a bone of contention.

Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage “marriages.” He still remains in charge of the polygamous church. In an annual report, the special fiduciary said FLDS faithful continue to refuse to cooperate with them under orders from church leaders.

Read the annual report here: