The law firm that once represented the Fundamentalist LDS Church is fighting subpoenas to hand over documents to the court-controlled real estate arm of the polygamous sect.
Lawyers for the United Effort Plan Trust served the subpoenas on Snow, Christensen & Martineau, seeking to compel the law firm into handing over documents. The firm is resisting, arguing attorney-client privilege.
"It is impossible to characterize legal advice given to FLDS leadership regarding the UEP Trust as having been given to them in any particular capacity," attorney Rod Parker wrote in documents filed last week in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court.
"The UEP Trust was regarded as a part of the religious institution of the Church, and was managed as a religious institution and a tool used in the Church's mission in providing for the spiritual and temporal needs of its members. The Special Fiduciary's characterization of the UEP Trust as an entity with a separate existence from the mission of the Church is not consistent with SC&M's representation of the Church."
Snow, Christensen & Martineau acted as the FLDS Church's legal counsel from 1987-2004. It helped incorporate the church and the UEP Trust.
In 2005, a judge took control of the UEP Trust after allegations that FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and other top officials in the church mismanaged it and defaulted on a series of lawsuits filed against it. The courts reformed the trust, separating it from the FLDS Church, and appointed Bruce Wisan as a special fiduciary over the UEP.
Wisan sued the former trustees and won an $8 million judgment. He has been trying to collect, as well as obtain documents over the management of the former UEP Trust. Subpoenas have also recently been served on Texas authorities and the YFZ Ranch, seeking records and information.
Parker argued the UEP's subpoena is overly broad, seeking only documents involving trust administration."For the foregoing reasons, there is no continuity between the 1998 Trust and the Reformed Trust. Accordingly, even under the entity theory advanced by the special fiduciary, the privileges remain intact," he wrote.