Attempts by the state of Utah to reform the polygamous FLDS Church's United Effort Plan Trust have been winding their way through state and federal courts for several years. As previously reported, last year State 3rd District Court Judge Denise Lindberg ordered the Utah Attorney General's Office to advance to court-appointed special fiduciary Bruce Wisan the several million dollars in unpaid fees owed to lawyers and Wisan's accounting firm for work relating to the Trust. The order contemplated that the Trust would eventually reimburse the state for the fees. The costs were supposed to have been paid from proceeds of the sale of property and from court-imposed monthly occupancy fees that were assessed on those living on trust property. However most FLDS members have refused to pay the occupancy fees, and litigation challenging the trust reformation has prevented property sales from being completed. AP reports that on Friday, Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff was put under oath by the court and questioned as to why the state has refused to pay the $5.6 million in fees that have now accumulated.
Shurtleff said his agency does not have the money unless the legislature appropriates it. The state is concerned that it will never recover the funds if the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a federal district court ruling that the state's reformation efforts were unconstitutional. Judge Lindburgh urged the attorney general to use his best efforts to persuade the legislature to appropriate funds. She also said she will order the Utah and Arizona attorneys general to take over some of the legal work for the trust from court-appointed lawyers who are threatening to resign because they have not been paid.