Judge in 'Sister Wives' case asks for definition of polygamy

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17 2013 8:15 p.m. MST

Outside the courtroom, Turley added that there were many other families like the Browns who were not living a plural marriage in a "compound" situation.

"You can't uphold the statute based on stereotypes," he said.

While the government argued that it could give "thousands" of stories about abuse in polygamist families, Turley said, "I can give you stories in the tens of thousands of abuse in monogamous relationships."

The way Utah's bigamy statute is currently written, "it criminalizes cohabitation," he said. He said Jensen's argument that every state in the nation had a similar law wasn't completely true. Utah's statute is the only one that focuses on cohabitation, he said, noting that the state "can't criminalize consenting adults."

"What the Browns are seeking are what most people take for granted," Turley said.

He said the Browns are seeking to be able to live their lives openly and not under the constant fear that they will be treated like felons.

Turley countered the government's "kitchen sink" argument by saying they were using a "Hail Mary" pass to apply 19th century standards to the current case, and that "morality alone" cannot be the basis for the statute.

Neither Brown nor his wives attended the hearing. But on Turley's blog, Kody Brown released a statement.

"On behalf of the entire Brown family, I want to thank Judge Waddoups for this opportunity to argue the merits of our case. We understand that this is a historic moment for all plural families, and we are honored and humbled to serve as the plaintiffs in this action," he wrote.

"This has been a difficult road for us, and we are relieved to see the case coming to the final arguments. We remained committed to this civil rights cause and the struggle of plural families, both religious and nonreligious, in the state. We hope that Utahans can understand that our family — like tens of thousands in this state — are seeking only to be allowed to live according to our beliefs and not be declared felons simply because we are different.”

Waddoups took the arguments under advisement and will announce a decision at a later time.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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