SAN ANGELO, Texas A temporary restraining order, banning Fundamentalist LDS Church member and spokesman Willie Jessop from having contact, intimidating or coming within 500 feet of 16-year-old Teresa Jeffs, has been extended for 90 days.
The seemingly simple agreement reached by both sides didn't come, however, in easy fashion. Tuesday's hearing at the Tom Green County Courthouse didn't finish until nearly 8 p.m. The long afternoon in Judge Barbara Walther's courtroom included a hearing within a hearing and arguments over what issues could and couldn't be talked about.
In the end, an agreement was reached and put in writing between both sides without Walther having to make a ruling.
"Sometimes that just happens," said attorney Tim Edwards, who represents Annette Jeffs, Teresa's mother.
Annette, Teresa and two other members of the FLDS polygamist sect attended Tuesday's long hearing. After the hearing was over, Teresa Jeffs didn't have much to say to reporters.
"What do I say? I'm sick of everything," she said.
Teresa Jeffs' day in court is far from over. It was revealed in court Tuesday that she is scheduled to appear before a grand jury in Eldorado today at 9:30 a.m.
Jeffs has been living in San Antonio since the Texas Supreme Court ruled the state must return all 440 of the FLDS children taken from the YFZ Ranch. The lone exemption for children returning to the ranch was Jeffs. San Antonio is over three hours away from the ranch.
Not wanting to drive back to San Antonio only to return this morning, Jeffs wanted to spend Tuesday night at the ranch.
"It's really a bad idea," Walther said.
Jeff Schmidt, an attorney for Texas Child Protective Services, agreed.
"We're totally, adamantly against that," he said.
After another closed door meeting between the attorneys and Jeffs, the day ended with an agreement that Jeffs would stay at an undisclosed location locally.
"She will not be at the ranch tonight," Edwards said.
That last bit of drama capped an interesting day in Walther's courtroom.
The hearing was originally scheduled to review the restraining order that Jeffs' attorney ad litem, Natalie Malonis, filed on behalf of her client against Jessop. The Deseret News normally does not print the names of juveniles or alleged victims of sex abuse. But Jeffs has been very public in recent days about wanting a new lawyer, sending e-mails to the media saying Malonis was not acting in her best interest.
Malonis, who has received death threats since the restraining order was issued, was escorted to court by two Texas Rangers and had at least one Ranger close by at all times Tuesday.
Edwards and co-counsel Michael Gross filed two motions Tuesday, one of them asking for the disqualification of Malonis as attorney ad litem. But Walther was firm on sticking to the court agenda.
"It is not a hearing on anything else in this case," she told Annette Jeffs' attorneys. "I'm taking up only the emergency order before me. It is not an appropriate time to take this up."
Furthermore, Walther said she had been contacted by several people claiming they represented Jeffs. She pointed to a provision in Texas law that allowed the attorney ad litem to take a position contrary to their client's wishes and was prepared to proceed with the hearing.
Edwards then announced he had also filed a motion to recuse Walther from the hearing on the restraining order only, prompting Walther to immediately call or a recess.
When court returned to session, Judge John Hyde of the 238th District Court was brought in by phone to conduct a hearing on the motion to recuse the judge. Gross tried to have the hearing continued, saying it was better to hold a hearing before a judge in person. The request was denied.
Hyde then denied the motion to recuse the judge saying it wasn't filed in a timely fashion and had no merit.
After a short break, court resumed with Walther getting back to the issue of the temporary restraining order. Malonis, however, said she had several documents of evidence to submit that contained allegations of Jeffs being sexually abused. She requested the evidence be sealed. At that time, Walther cleared the courtroom except for Jeffs, her mother and attorneys from both sides to talk about the evidence in private.
When everyone was allowed back in the courtroom about an hour later, Walther said an agreement had been reached between both parties without any witnesses being called or evidence being revealed.
"The judge encouraged us to agree and we did," Malonis said outside the courtroom following the hearing while simply adding, "I'm tired."
Salt Lake attorney Jim Bradshaw, who represented FLDS member Allen Steed in his Utah rape trial, was in Texas Tuesday and told reporters after the hearing that the ruling is not an indication that Jessop did anything wrong."I want to make it very clear Willie Jessop has done nothing wrong," he said. "He has no concern or desire to direct Teresa to what she does or doesn't do. All Willie wants to do is get a lawyer to represent her interests."