Category Archives: News Round Up

Gettin’ a little crazy out there…

Vice President Joe Biden L'68

* except this smiling man. He always seems to have something witty on the edge of his tongue. Image via Wikipedia

No default. But no matter. It’s still not enough to make anyone happy.*

In fact, just to read the headlines, I can’t help but think that it’s getting a little crazy out there.

Check out a sampling of them from this screen shot of Real Clear Politics this afternoon:

Among other things, here’ s a few things that one might glean from the headlines:

Also, if this wasn’t painfully obvious to anyone not in the employ of the federal government: we’re in a bear economy, right now, and the light at the end of the tunnel might be a train. Or a bear.  If bears reflected light. And looked like this. 
In short, what I see in just the headlines is that everyone is obnoxious and no one is happy with the way things are going. Even the Chinese are getting in on the action. (Because, hey–they own a substantial part of the debt we almost defaulted on).

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Jeffs to Texas? Not yet…but soon.

Just hours after Utah‘s 3rd District Court ordered Warren Jeffs extradited to Texas, the Utah Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay of the order, if just until Wednesday.

Jeffs attorney Walter Bugden immediately appealed the decision [to extradite Jeffs], and late Monday afternoon the Utah Court of Appeals agreed to halt the extradition at least until Wednesday, when prosecutors’ response to Jeffs’ appeal is due at the end of the day.

Jeffs’ lawyer had argued that extradition to Texas violated Jeffs’ right to a speedy re-trial on accomplice to rape charges in Utah.

Stay tuned…at least until Wednesday.

(h/t to the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Lindsay Whitehurst.)

Texas Justice coming for Warren Jeffs

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Warren Jeffs is headed to Texas. The Salt Lake Tribune just reported that Jeffs can be extradicted, over his attorneys‘ objections, for trial in Texas.

A Utah judge on Monday ordered polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs extradited to Texas to face bigamy and sexual assault charges there.

Jeffs’ attorneys had fought the extradition, arguing that sending Jeffs to Texas would violate his right to a speedy re-trial on accomplice to rape charges in Utah.

But 3rd District Judge Terry Christiansen sided with prosecutors who argued once a governor signs an extradition orders, courts can only decide whether the papers are in order.

“I don’t believe it’s proper for this court to substitute its judgment for that of the governor,” said Christiansen in making his ruling Monday.

This blog has looked at the Warren Jeffs’ case a few times. To review, check out posts about his conviction being over turned here, The resulting hubbub when it was overturned here, victims speaking out against Warren Jeffs here, other polygamists in Utah here (including a few that ran for public office), and coverage of Jeffs’ attorneys’ objections to extradition here.

(h/t to the Salt Lake Tribune’s Lindsay Whitehurst)

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The Utah Compact on Immigration

If you care about immigration, an interesting thing happened a couple days ago. Some of Utah‘s leaders–religious, political, and secular–joined together to propose an a set of principles on to guid the immigration reform discussion. It is seen as an alternative to recent proposals such as those passed in Arizona and proposed for Utah by Utah state Rep. Steven Sandstrom.

Labeled a “Declaration of Five Principles to Guide Utah’s Immigration Discussion,” the document lays out simple and clear parameters for keeping the policy discussion on immigration both moral and constitutional policy. In full, it states:

FEDERAL SOLUTIONS Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries—not Utah and other countries. We urge Utah’s congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.

LAW ENFORCEMENT We respect the rule of law and support law enforcement’s professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.

FAMILIES Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.

ECONOMY Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. Utah’s immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.

A FREE SOCIETY Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.

Unsurprisingly, Representative Stephen Sandstrom was not sanguine when he heard about it, especially since one of the supporters, though not a signer, was the LDS Church, local to Salt Lake City, and a political behemoth in Utah politics in the few rare circumstances where it decides to weigh in (more than 80 percent of Utah lawmakers are LDS, and more than 60 percent of the state’s population is LDS). Sandstrom did not sound like he was going to back down, however unhappy he was about the LDS Church’s position.

“I kind of wish I’d been given more of a heads-up because it is taking aim at the bill I’m doing,” Sandstrom lamented Thursday. “My other thought was that I thought the church’s no-position was the best way to go and to let this be the purview of government.”

Among the other signers were former Govs. Olene Walker and Norm Bangerter, Salt Lake Chamber President Lane Beattie and Paul Mero, president of the Sutherland Institute, as well as current attorney general Mark Shurtleff. I compact is available for signing online, and it expands upon the list of notables who support the Compact, including former US Senator Jake Garn, former US Representative Jim Hansen, Salt Lake County Councilman Joe Hatch, and Mayor Peter Corroon.

What does this mean for immigration proposals in the 2011 legislative session? Because of the broad support behind the Compact, as well as the weight of the LDS Church, immigration is about to get more interesting. This takes the issue out of a squarely partisan playing field and puts individuals into a position where they must consider why they support immigration reform. The nut at the heart of the Compact is three-fold–1) immigration policy should be moral; 2) immigration is the federal government’s purview, not the states’; and 3) immigration policy should be made on principles that have made America great–the free market and a free society.

One of the interesting effects of the Compact is that it defuses a lot of the anger mongering that the right has seen used to stir-up the base. Because of the moral, and religious, authority of the LDS Church, Utah Mormon conservatives will find themselves in the position of rethinking how they view immigration policy and the basis for those positions.

Last, I think it important to note that this does not mean that immigration should not be reformed. It’s clear as the statutory language in the Kurzban Immigration Law Sourcebook sitting on my desk is unclear that immigration needs reform. My hope is that the reform that comes, when it finally comes, does more good than harm.

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Will Warren Jeffs face Texas justice sooner than later?

The Scott Matheson Courthouse is the seat of t...
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Warren Jeffs is fighting extradition.

Maybe Texas justice presents a more fearful specter than Utah‘s.  Maybe it’s too expensive. Maybe it’s just part of Jeffs’ legal battle.

Whatever the reason, Warren Jeffs refused to sign the extradition order that would send him to Texas for criminal trial for bigamy and sexual assault.

In a petition and a supplemental memorandum filed in 3rd District Court to quash the extradition warrant, Jeffs’ attorneys noted that based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, he was now entitled to a speedy trial, bail and a host of other protections that were being violated and “ignored” by Utah and Texas.

“They have shrouded their ungodly alliance in the semantics of extradition law, hoping to conceal the otherwise obvious effects of their conspiracy against Mr. Jeffs’ basic civil rights by inviting this court to ignore them,” the defense wrote.

With the Utah Supreme Court overturning Jeffs’ original conviction on the grounds that the jury received erroneous jury instructions (here for previous post on this), Utah retains the option to retry the polygamist religious leader or send him to Texas. However, argue his defense attorneys,sending him to Texas would be unfair.

Rather than attempting to immediately retry Jeffs, defense attorneys say prosecutors are “punting” by “using (the warrant) as an offensive line to protect its weakened prosecution, buying time until it can figure out what to do next in its now frantic effort to defeat Mr. Jeffs and the unpopular religion he represents,” the motion states.

Because of the wording in the Supreme Court decision, Jeffs’ attorneys said it was “unlikely Utah could obtain another conviction.” Furthermore, any conclusion to a trial in Texas could potentially be years away, defense attorneys say, further delaying legal action in Utah.

By delaying the case longer, witnesses will be more difficult to locate, memories will fade and documents may be lost, defense attorneys argued.

“Utah and Texas don’t care about that, though. They seek to procrastinate the prosecution of Mr. Jeffs’ long-standing Utah case indefinitely, while Texas, which has not even begun its prosecution, can start from scratch in yet another governmental attempt to remove the FLDS prophet from the public sphere,” court records state.

Because Utah still retains the right to retry Jeffs, despite being set back by the Utah Supreme Court, Jeffs is arguing that Utah should either let him off the hook and dismiss the charges against him before sending him to Texas, or try him and get it over with here. The last thing he wants is to go to trial in Texas only to face return to Utah later for retrial.

Which raises the question: should Utah’s 3rd District Court, where Jeffs filed is motion, allow Utah to extradite Jeffs or should it force Utah to prosecute Jeffs first?

Utah statute states that it’s the governor’s call. “If a criminal prosecution has been instituted against such person under the laws of this state and is still pending the governor, in his discretion, may either surrender him on demand of the executive authority of another state or hold him until he has been tried and discharged or convicted and punished in this state.” Utah Code Ann. § 77-30-19. (italics added for emphasis)

Under this statute, then, the Governor retains authority “in his discretion” to send Jeffs to Texas or keep him here, in so far as Jeffs has neither been “tried and discharge or convicted and punished.” While Jeffs’ has been tried, he has not yet been discharged of the criminal allegations against him, not has he been convicted and punished. On its face, it appears that Jeffs’ case against extradition is weak. The Governor has the discretion to choose to send him or not, and apparently has already signed the extradition order.

If anything, it delays the final order of extradition, but only for so long. If Utah wants Jeffs to face a court in Texas, there’s a good chance that he will–if not now, at least before his legal battle’s are over.