Sunday, December 15, 2013

To Appeal Or Not To Appeal

Utah Governor Gary Herbert
I'm not a lawyer, though I play one in my dreams.  I'm also not a politician, so I won't be going to hell.  Nevertheless, I want to look more closely at the question of whether the future Attorney General of the pretty, great state of Utah should or will appeal the decision in Brown v. Buhman which decriminalizes my polygamous brethren in Utah.

First, an appeal would require a good attorney.  When Laura DuPaix defended the state in the Holm case, she blubberingly argued with Chief Justice Christine Durham that Rodney Holm was in fact married to Ruth Stubbs, even though there was no legal marriage in place between them.  If the state cannot find anyone smarter than her or Jerrold Jensen to plead before the 10th Circuit, it should quit while it is behind.

Secondly, an appeal would, in this case, be a bizarre legal anomaly, because the gist of it would be as follows:

 "Dear 10th Circuit justices, Judge Clark Waddoups recently decriminalized polygamy in Utah.  Utah vehemently disagrees with the ruling and wants the polyga-bigamy statute reaffirmed.  These evil, criminal polygamist outlaws must not be permitted in our State.  We have said before that we have ABSOLUTELY no intention of EVER prosecuting any of them, we just desperately want you to restore the law so that we can go back to calling them criminals and so that we can feel better." 

Thirdly, Waddoups spent many pages of his published Brown ruling demonstrating how racist and reprehensible the Reynolds decision was.  For the 10th Circuit to reverse him in Brown, it will have to come out in full support of Reynolds, an opinion which should have died 100 years ago along with Davis v. Beason (1890) ( - denied Mormons' voting rights) and Late Corp. (also 1890) - in which the court said: 

"The organization of a community for the spread and practice of polygamy is, in a measure, a return to barbarism. It is contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and of the civilization which Christianity has produced in the western world."  [to hell with Church/State separation! {R.O.}]

Those two odious rulings faded into ignominy without ever needing to be overturned.

Fourthly, the new AG may perhaps not win on appeal.  Yesterday's evisceration of Utah's bigamy/polgamy ban, applies ONLY to Utah.  If a 10th Circuit appeal were to fail, then the decision would reach at least many of the other western states that have also somewhat half-heartedly prohibited polygamy. A subsequent appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court could result in the voiding of Reynolds nationwide and the end of all anti-polygamy laws.  I wonder if the LDS Church(/Gary Herbert) really wants to take such a risk.

Fifthly, if a 10th Circuit appeal resulted in the reversal of Waddoups, Utah would find itself in the same asinine situation in which the province of British Columbia, Canada, now finds itself.  Chief Justice Robert Bauman issued hundreds of pages of contortions in his ruling that polygamy must continue to be criminalized in Canada - the main argument of which was that polygamy is "inherently" harmful - - it hurts Canadians - just like knives and automobiles do.  I semi-sincerely expected the RCMP to raid Winston Blackmore's and Jimmy Oler's homes the next day and incarcerate them.  On the contrary, the reaffirmation of the law (SB-293) has not resulted in any indictments - so the the whole thing was a joke.  I'm sure that B.C. realizes that if it goes after a polygamist, the whole appeal process will likely start all over again.  

If Utah won a reversal of Brown on appeal, it would face the same absurd dilemma.  If it were to flex the claws of the reaffirmed statute (and its anti-cohabitation prong), it would be obligated to go straightway over to Joe Darger's house in Herriman and arrest Joe, Alina, Vicki and Valerie Darger (not to mention the Brown tribe in Las Vegas).  After all, Joe has confessed numerous times to felony bigamy on television and in his book, Love Times Three.

There is the $39,000 question - would Utah still doggedly refrain from prosecuting polygamists, or would it start a new round of convictions, imprisoning ten thousand religious cohabiters?  How would that go over with the liberal public?  Is there enough prison space?  Are there enough foster families?  Or would Javert lose his bloodlust and jump off a bridge into the Seine?

If I were Jonathan Turley, I would be champing at the bit to go to Denver and take a second whack at Utah's corrupt Attorneys General before the 10th Circuit.

Again, this is an exquisite dilemma for the governor, the Church, and the next A.G.  I trust they will approach it with a minimum of wisdom, compassion and inspiration.


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