Tuesday, April 12, 2016

10th Circuit:Dismisses As Moot Challenge To Utah Polygamy Law

In Brown v. Buhman, (10th Cir., April 11, 2016), the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed on mootness grounds the constitutional challenge to Utah's anti-polygamy laws that had been filed by the polygamous family from the television show "Sister Wives." A federal district court had held most of Utah's ban unconstitutional. (See prior posting.) The 10th Circuit, however, concluded that a new prosecution policy announced by the County Attorney for Utah County after the suit was originally filed has mooted the case.  County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman issued a policy that states:
The Utah County Attorney’s Office will prosecute the crime of bigamy under [the Statute] in two circumstances: (1) When a victim is induced to marry through their partner’s fraud, misrepresentation or omissions; or (2) When a person purports to marry or cohabits with another person in violation of [the Statute] and is also engaged in some type of abuse, violence or fraud. This office will prosecute the crime of child bigamy under Section 76-7-101.5 regardless of whether one of the parties is also engaged in some type of abuse, violence or fraud.
Further supporting the finding of mootness is the fact that the Brown family has moved to Nevada. AP reports on the court's decision.  Jonathan Turley, counsel for the Brown family, said in a posting that the decision will be appealed.  [Thanks to Tom Rutledge for the lead.]