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Polygamist Can't Give Deposition: Lawyer

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 12, 2019 6:18 PM CDT
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Warren Jeffs sits in court in Salt Lake City in 2010.   (AP Photo/Trent Nelson, Pool, File)

(Newser) – Imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has suffered a mental breakdown and isn't fit to give a deposition in a sex abuse case against him, according to a court filing in Salt Lake City. Forcing Jeffs to testify would be "futile," said lawyers for a community trust that once belonged to a polygamous sect run by Jeffs on the Utah-Arizona border. The trust and Jeffs were sued in 2017 by a woman who says she was sexually abused by Jeffs when she was a child. She has asked for a jury trial and is seeking damages, per KUTV. "The trust has received reports that Warren Jeffs has suffered a mental breakdown, and there seems to be a high likelihood that Warren Jeffs is not mentally competent to provide admissible testimony," lawyer Zachary Shields wrote in the July 8 filing.

Shields said Monday that he isn't trying to cover for Jeffs, but that he doesn't want attorneys to waste time and money traveling to the Texas prison where Jeffs is housed until he is determined to be mentally competent. This is not the first time health issues have emerged regarding Jeffs, who is 63. He is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting girls he considered brides. He tried to hang himself in jail in 2007 in Utah, had to be force-fed in 2009 at an Arizona jail, and was put in a medically induced coma in 2011 after fasting in the Texas prison. The woman's attorney, Alan Mortensen, countered in a filing that there is no evidence to support the claim that Jeffs isn't competent. Mortensen accused the trust of being fearful about the testimony because the trust is liable for actions of Jeffs, who was president of the group known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A judge will consider whether Jeffs will be ordered to give testimony on Aug. 27

(Read more Warren Jeffs stories.)

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