Friday, July 29, 2011

Jeffs Trial Begins With Silence and Sermon From Defendant Representing Himself

The trial of Warren Jeffs, leader of the polygamous FLDS Church, proceeds with unusual twists. As previously reported, Jeffs dismissed his legal team and asked to represent himself. (See prior posting.) As reported by ABC News, Judge Walther urged Jeffs not to dismiss his impressive legal team; however she ultimately permitted Jeffs to represent himself and refused to delay the opening of trial.  The judge also ordered Jeffs' counsel to remain on as side counsel in case Jeffs again changes his mind.

As the trial began, Jeffs stared into space as the prosecutor gave his opening statement, and Jeffs declined to give his own opening statement. He remained seated and mute as the prosecution then moved ahead with presenting its case. Finally today, according to AP, Jeffs broke his silence and launched into a 55-minute sermon, saying in part:
We cannot surrender these principles based on the laws of man trying to convince us that our religion is not necessary in practice... [T]his must stop in a land of freedom if all others are to receive a similar guarantee against their freedom of religion being trampled.... We are not a fly-by-night religious society . . . We are a community of faith and principles and those principles are so sacred.... [Polygamy] is not of a sudden happening, it is of a tradition in our lives. And how can we just throw it away and say "God has not spoken?"