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Utah Supreme Court takes on state and federal rift over Utah FLDS trust

Published: Wednesday, April 13 2011 1:33 a.m. MDT

"Judge Benson didn't look at critical issues," he said, citing a repudiation of the trust in 1998 and some of the alleged illegal activity that has taken place. "There are major issues that were never considered by the federal court."

Shields also pointed out that Benson's injunction is not final and is currently being appealed.

The justices repeatedly asked why there hadn't been motions to stay proceedings in the federal court pending subsequent appeals of Benson's ruling and their decision on whether there was an undue delay in the filing of the case, which is a state court issue.

In the meantime, Lindberg's attorney, Brent Johnson — who pointed out that Lindberg is still appointed to oversee the case — said the handling of the case has "reached a crisis" and questioned Benson's dismissal of his client's motion to dismiss the federal court case, which she did citing judicial immunity.

"It's the elephant in the room," he said.

The UEP was created by the FLDS Church in 1942 on the concept of a "united order," allowing followers to share in its assets. Members consider sharing its assets a religious principle and see state intervention in the trust as a violation of their religious rights.

The trust holds most of the property and homes in the twin FLDS communities located in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. The church also holds property in Bountiful, British Columbia, and Eldorado, Texas.

Utah's state courts seized control of the trust in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement by church leaders, including Warren Jeffs, the newly reinstated head of the church who is currently in jail in Texas, pending trial on charges of bigamy, aggravated sexual assault and assault.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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