Thursday, August 28, 2014

Court Awards Attorneys' Fees In Utah Polygamy Law Challenge

Last year, a Utah federal district court held that most of Utah's anti-polygamy statute is unconstitutional. (See prior posting.) After that grant of summary judgment, there remained a claim for monetary damages by plaintiffs based on 42 USC Sec. 1983. Yesterday in Brown v. Shurtleff, (D UT, Aug. 27, 2014) the court entered judgment on this remaining claim, awarding attorneys' fees, costs and expenses to plaintiffs.  The court concluded that defendants had waived their claims of prosecutorial immunity and qualified immunity.  Plaintiffs, subjects of the reality series "Sister Wives," decded to drop their claim for addtiional damages stemming from the criminal investigation and public comments in their case. The court's order reiterated last year's holding that the only portion of the Utah statute which is constituitonal is a provision that bars marriages inwhich an individual seeks multiple marriage licenses from the state. Provisions barring cohabiting or entering a religious marriage with someone else are unenforceable. Salt Lake Tribune reports on the decision.