SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against a high-profile Utah law firm that once represented imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist LDS Church.
In a ruling handed down on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart granted a motion by the law firm Snow, Christensen & Martineau and attorney Rod Parker to toss it.
“While sympathetic to Plaintiffs’ claims, the allegations against Defendant Jeffs are not at issue on this Motion, and the Court may only consider the allegations against Defendants Parker and SC&M,” Judge Stewart wrote.
More than a dozen ex-members of the FLDS Church filed the lawsuit, accusing the law firm of working in concert with Jeffs to further crimes of child-bride marriages, underage labor violations and the breakup of families. In his ruling, the judge rejected many of the ex-FLDS members’ claims as time-barred and beyond any statute of limitations. He also declared that some claims against the law firm had not been adequately pleaded.
“Typical legal services do not rise to the level of control required for RICO liability,” Judge Stewart wrote. “There are not sufficient factual allegations that Defendants directed any part of an alleged RICO enterprise.”
Attorneys for the ex-FLDS plaintiffs did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Wednesday.
“Particularly satisfying is the fact that Judge Stewart took the time to craft a well-written analysis of each cause of action and set forth in detail why the claims asserted against Snow Christensen & Martineau were without merit and could not be maintained. It is beyond reasonable questioning that the law firm and its lawyers provided high caliber representation to its clients within the highest standard of ethics,” said Brent Hatch, who represented Snow, Christensen & Martineau.
Parker and SC&M have denied any wrongdoing and have repeatedly insisted that an attorney’s representation of a client is not an endorsement of their views or activities. Warren Jeffs, who was once on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, is currently doing life in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage marriages.
It is unclear if the plaintiffs plan to appeal, or if they will proceed with the lawsuit against Jeffs himself. Court records have shown he has refused to answer the lawsuit so a notice of default was filed in the case.
Read the judge’s ruling here: