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Attorney says judge should toss polygamous trust case

Published: Thursday, Sept. 8 2011 10:46 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — An Arizona judge has been asked to toss — not retry — a 2009 trespassing case involving a polygamous church's land trust because clerks have failed to turn over case records to a defense attorney.

"It's now six months and they won't give me a copy." said Bill Walker, the defense attorney representing the trust's court-appointed manager, Bruce Wisan. "They say they don't have enough time to copy it."

Wisan, a Salt Lake City accountant, manages the $114 million United Effort Plan Trust, an arm of the Warren Jeffs-run Fundamentalist LDS Church.

The Utah courts took control of the trust in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement by Jeffs, who is serving a life prison term in Texas following a conviction on child sexual assault charges last month.

In 2009, Wisan pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanor counts of solicitation, facilitation and criminal trespassing. The charges stem from allegations that he ordered a trust employee to enter two homes in Colorado City, Ariz., without the permission of residents.

The employee was later convicted of criminal trespassing.

A second employee, Jethro Barlow, is charged along with Wisan and has also pleaded not guilty.

Colorado City Magistrate Court Judge Pro Tem Paul Julien held a bench trial for the pair in February, even though Wisan and Barlow were not represented by an attorney.

The judge never issued a ruling but instead declared a mistrial in July, saying in court papers that he "regrets the delays and mistakes made in the case."

No date for a new trial has been set.

Walker, who was hired to represent Wisan and Barlow following the trial, contends the case should simply be dismissed.

"The judge had to back-track and apologize for the way he treated these defendants," Walker said. "I think these people should be acquitted."

At the very least, Walker said Julien should order court clerks to turn over the case records he's seeking, so that he can prepare for a trial.

Walker sought an emergency hearing to resolve the matter in an Aug. 10 court filing, but no action has been taken by either the court clerk or the judge.

Messages left for the court clerk's office and for Colorado City's contract prosecutor, Ken Brendel, were not immediately returned on Tuesday.

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