SALT LAKE CITY — Imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs refuses to answer a lawsuit filed against him by ex-members of his church, so the federal courts are proceeding without him.
A notice of default was filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City and obtained by FOX 13 on Tuesday. The default does not mean that Jeffs has been found liable or he’s off the hook for any alleged misconduct, just that he’s missed his opportunity to respond or appear in the case. The court noted that Jeffs was served with the lawsuit in July, but has not answered it or hired a lawyer.
Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage “marriages.” In the past, Jeffs has refused to respond to litigation or answer questions in depositions in related cases.
Thirty-two ex-FLDS Church members have sued Jeffs and the law firm that used to represent him and the sect, Snow, Christensen & Martineau. They have accused the law firm of enabling numerous crimes to be perpetuated by the FLDS Church, including child bride marriages.
Snow, Christensen & Martineau and the church’s former attorney, Rod Parker, have filed to have the lawsuit dismissed arguing that it has no merit and the 32 ex-FLDS members have attempted to tie a long list of grievances to them. The firm has repeatedly insisted that an attorney’s legal work on behalf of a client is not an endorsement of their views or activities.
A federal judge will next consider whether to dismiss the lawsuit. Recently, lawyers representing the group of ex-FLDS members asked a judge to keep their lawsuit alive and allow it to be heard by a jury.
Read the entry of default here: