April 29th, 2008
01:34 PM ET

Dispatch from the FLDS hearing: The Bishop's Records

Cheryl Getty
CNN Producer

An informal hearing was held in Judge Walther’s court room Monday regarding the search warrant and the length of time it is taking to go through the "Bishop’s records" obtained from the YFZ Ranch.

During the search of the ranch Texas Rangers took into evidence 45 computers, 6 or more laptops, and nearly 1,000 boxes of Bishop’s records.

The defense for FLDS is arguing that the majority of the Bishop records are confidential due to "spiritual" nature and membership concerns... And it is a violation of their clients' first amendment rights to have the court viewing these documents.

The FLDS has an attorney reviewing the documents to state what is private. The court has an independent judge reviewing to confirm... Bob Switzer is the attorney viewing the docs.

Prosecutors want to know if there is any evidence for their case in these documents and if there is a genealogy chart amongst them. The judge wants the medical records for the children ASAP.

Here are my rough notes:


  1. Allison Palmer – Tom Green County Asst. DA
  2. Cynthia Orr – criminal def attorney for FLDS
  3. Gerald Goldstein – attorney for FLDS
  4. Bob Switzer – attorney for FLDS – reviewing documents –
  5. Dan Hurley – attorney for FLDS
  6. John Fahle – attorney for FLDS

Goldstein: Much of what's in those docs are sensitive... priest/parishioner documents are all privileged medical care – find those medical records.

Switzer: The problem I am having is on one document there might be two
sentences of privilege… that's all… and I mark that out – it's taking a lot of
time...there are boxes floor to ceiling, judge, I can't go through them any
faster and I read 1100 words per minute...I am not slowing the process

Goldstein: judge most of these docs are priv. and contain membership list –
it's a violation of our clients' first amendment rights to be viewing these

Judge: the state has a compelling interest – some rights must give way for
the better interest for the child. Judge Francis is at the DPS facility and
will access the situation… allow her to review the situation and setup
guidelines for going thru records. She will be out there this week and we
can get another judge out there next week if necessary.

Switzer: I disagree – it's going to take more than just another week...We
have some docs that are from Warren Jeff's –a prophet.

Judge: No wait a minute. For communication to be made confidential it must
have been made private "everything Warren Jeffs says is spiritual advice?"

: I'm saying it is possible – we have 45 computers, 6 or more
laptops and boxes it's going to take two to three more weeks

: one concern the court has is the medical records – one child was
already ill when taken into custody – I am having trouble thinking privilege
regarding medical records. From a practical point of view – children need medical care – find those medical records.

Filed under: Barclay Palmer • FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Beth - NJ

    I think Texas did the right thing. It is sad anytime a family is torn apart, but clearly the state had a good reason. We will know more as time goes on. Clearly there are issues here, and I am sure that are even more that the public has not been made aware of.

    I am sure that some of these children will end up back with their families, others may never be. But since they don't have even first names for some children the process is going to be difficult. The mothers and fathers of the FDLS could make this much easier if they would provide the state with what was asked fo them. DNA, birth and marriage records etc.

    As far as the welfare issue, I am confused about this. Since you have to provide information (birth certificates) for each child, to get money, they have to have something. The compound has only been there less than 5 years, so there has to be a birth certificate for anyone over the age fo 5. It was also reported that some of these kids are actually Candian citizens, so that really will make things even messier.

    I can see why the fathers don't want to be tested, since they will then have to repay all of that back child support. There goes the welfare checks, and food stamps too.

    I don't really have an issue with the FDLS faith. I don't have a problem if several adults want to live together and call themselves a family. I don't even mind if you have 25 kids. What I do mind is that you want everyone else to pay for it.

    May 5, 2008 at 11:16 pm |
  2. Kathlene Whitaker

    After many years of Social Work, includinfg C.P.S. and Welfare Eligibility, I asure you that the State of California requires many documents for proving eligibility, but we also accept some types of photo copies, which can be easily altered. And this cult has much to hide, and has had many years to learn to decieve, contrive, control, and to learn just how to feed their sick desires. They have it down.
    In California, we always offer the mother, or father depending who the perpetrator is, to stay with THEIR children if they do not return to the victimizer/s. The Mothers must protect their children, say they will protect their children and not alow contact with the perpetrator/s under any condtions, unless court ordered. These woman/mothers have clearly made their choice by returning to the ranch to join their men, if you call them men. They are clearly under some type of mind control drugs, and some appear on really heavy downers, they are obviously interbred, under educated, meak and sad. I say FREE the Children, as many as you can!

    May 2, 2008 at 3:29 am |
  3. Cheryl

    I want to know why the women are not taken out of this place and put into protective custody. They were sent back and the men will continue to rape them and beat them and marry more women and there will continue to be more kids that need to be rescued. If there were no women, wouldn't it at least curb this horrendous crime, at least for a longer time?

    April 30, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  4. Don Dufault

    For those wishing to read more on the FLDS sect, please direct yourselves to the following very informative and provocative books readily available: 1. UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN

    April 30, 2008 at 3:31 am |
  5. Matilda

    I continue to see the texas authorities following the guidelines and actions that are common with every such case and do not know why so many keep saying that "the parents" should go with the children or some children should be returned to the ranch, etc. I further find the attorney's actions to stop discovery in this case to be very close to unethical. Of course, he would like to limit the discovery of evidence against his client. However, if that evidence is found and his acitons were to cover up abusive patterns committed against these children- he should be charged just like a spouse with failure to report. Also, I understand texas laws states that there must be proof of paternity or gardianship. If these records can prove who belongs to who- then that parent may have a chance to regain custody- as it is, if there is no proof of paternity or gardianship- these children are wards of the state.... Therefore, I am not sure he is defending his client or ensuring their rights preserved.

    April 30, 2008 at 12:53 am |
  6. Pat

    This nation has no backbone when payoffs condone pedophilia in churches...among priests or otherwise.

    The church should be made to support the women and children elsewhere with close monitoring on abusive punishment in the group, and the men should be jailed.

    Allowing attorneys to wiggle out of both state and federal law would be shameful latitude, equivalent to ignoring WACO or Jonestown, or allowing positive marketing to trivialize the crimes.

    Media has barely identified the expected statutory rape and pedophilia crimes and anticipated violations across the land – except where done in churches..

    April 29, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  7. Lisette Chicago, IL

    This poligamystory is disgusting!
    What are these woman thinking?
    Their children should be taken away from them
    Girls being raised to meet the perverted ways of these men
    is revolting.
    These women should be put on trial for child endangerment.
    If they won't look out for their children - America will!

    April 29, 2008 at 10:46 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    Just because no charges have been filed yet does not mean that no charges will ever be filed. I would expect that the men who "married" the underage teens would be charged with statutory rape.

    The state is trying to piece together a very complicated puzzle and do what is right for the children already removed from the compound and determining what will happen to future children. The pervasive abuse in the community and teens as young as 14 being pregnant or already mothers prove that the state acted correctly and in the only way it could..

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 29, 2008 at 9:01 pm |
  9. ron

    Dan is nuts. There is a line that can be crossed that trumps individual rights and freedom of religion. These people have institutionalized incest, rape, and pedophilia. FLDS crossed that line years ago. This has zero to do with freedom of religion or limits of government power. Shame on Utah and Texas for not acting soone. BTW, I'm a conservative Christian, violent defender of the 1st amendment, an NRA member, and an FFL. Once again, bravo to the Great State of Texas for finally acting.

    April 29, 2008 at 8:55 pm |
  10. Julia Glennville, Ga.

    Boise Leon: the welfare stories are true. Woman do go into town and sign up for welfare that is fact. Do your research before calling others fabricators!

    April 29, 2008 at 8:52 pm |
  11. Julia Glennville, Ga.

    Dan: you need to get a grip on reality. How are they going to charge any of these so called parents when they don't know who the "parents " are? Remember that most of the adults have refused DNA testing. Men have left the YFZ ranch for other compounds, WHY??? Everything going on there is a secret that all members are HELL bent to keep. All these compounds in all states need to be raided and the children gotten out of these horrible situations. What has been going on at YFZ is going on at all of them. W. Jeffs sent alot of these people to YFZ because he thought they were further from the arm of the law. It is criminal if the government does not step in and stop all the criminal behavior. Incest, poligamy, rape, etc. etc etc. Why are all members not giving their last names? Refused to give birthdates?? Come on.. If I was innocent and they were taking my children I would do anything, anything to set the record straight. Being evasive and downright uncooperative and stright out lying would not be an option. Thank god something is being done,,, finally.

    April 29, 2008 at 8:47 pm |
  12. martha

    It seems to me that the harm done by removing all of those children, some of whom are very young, and putting them in a strange environment with complete strangers could very well be much more than if the State or whoever made this decision, had really considered the children first and put some adult observers in with the children and their "parents" until this could all be sorted out. Some children may be adaptable enough to successfully deal with this in the long run, but there are many young children who will never get over the fear and trauma of this wholesale removal from the only home and parents they have known. I agree that this action troubles me greatly. Our Government should not have this much power to use against individuals in a free society.

    April 29, 2008 at 7:48 pm |
  13. Walt

    The truth is – and nobody will say or write it – these so-called fundamentalists are indeed sexual predators who hide behind the veil of a sham "religion." Even the most disinterested person will conclude the First Amendment in no way protects child molestation and incest in the guise of 'religion."

    April 29, 2008 at 7:43 pm |
  14. cindy

    will somebody think of the children? the mothers and the children are simply told what to do. brainwashed is an understatement. where are the fathers of these children. put them in jail please. help the children and the mothers escape this crazy lifestyle. it is not easy to leave, i know i did. when it comes down to it, the Men are cowards, and you have to help the children and their mothers leave, and find a new way of living. FLDS is a prison and the Men should be help accountable.

    April 29, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  15. Boise Leon

    Getting welfare checks in the Texas compound is a fantasy. It requires going out into the world and asking. So, ask the welfare agents in Texas if they are paying anything to the people in the compound. Utopia is not about welfare fraud. These people are doing something else. Most people don't have a clue and so they just make things up. That is called lying.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  16. Natasha

    You know what seems to bother me about this whole entire situation is that eveyone keeps asking " where are the men" I have lived in New York City for a good portion of my life and anyone that is on welfare does not seem to know where the father of thier children are because if they do know the man will have to pay child support. Now all these men from the sect are not coming forward because if they do they will have to pay for all the children that they fathered and it is a lot of children that they have fathered. The mothers will loose there welfare checks, and if they looses the welfare how will they pay for the beautiful white house with the white picket fence? The women don't work and the men only work on getting new wives. Why can't they be inner city polygimst?

    April 29, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  17. Sue- Layton, Utah

    I've known several of these families living in Sandy Utah not far from the Jeff's compound and school, Alta Acedemy. Warren Jeff's was the headmaster at this school which taught grades K-8. The neighbors we knew, including Kathy Jo Nicholson, her parents, brothers and sisters, were very good people. Once Warren Jeff's took over for his father everything seemed to changed. He is an evil pedophile who ordered the children of Hildale Utah and Colorado City, AZ removed from public schools. When utah and Arizona authorities started prosecuting them for child rape and incest, he started building the RTZ compound in Texas. Most of those children were not living with their biological parents. They were taken in the middle of the night from their mothers in Hildale and Colorado City. We heard a car would pull up and children and desirable young women were spitied away, often with no time to say good-bye or prepare.

    DNA will probably show that most of the biological parents are not in the RTZ compound and will also uncover a lot of incest. If these children are not the biological children of the "parents" they were found with at the compound, and have not been officially adopted according to the laws of Texas, the state cannot and should not return the children to the people with whom they were living at the compound. Most of the mothers interviewed at the compound, like the one who gave a tour of her home, do not appear to be speaking about their own children. She used the term the "girl" instead of saying my daughter or my little girl. They do appear to be brain-washed. Could experts who have experience with cults, mind control, fanatics and programming be brought in to provide some guidance?

    April 29, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  18. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    It's being reported that more than half (31 of 53) of the teen-age girls (17 or younger) taken from the FLDS compound were either pregnant or already had a child or children. Not only is this tragic, it makes a strong case on why those girls should not be returned to the compound.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:13 pm |
  19. Dan

    this is NAZI Germany and Comuunist China and Russia all over again, if the state does not like how you are raising your children they confiscate them and damn the constitution. The polygamy thing is just an excuse, since no criminals charges are yet brought against the fathers. This is a precedent and threat against other conservative religions in USA, that if you do not do what the state says, well guess what will happen to you.

    April 29, 2008 at 2:02 pm |