August 23, 2008
Arizona Judge is Considering Fairness of Grand Jury Hearings
By Suzanne Adams Kingman Daily Miner
KINGMAN, Ariz. -- A judge will rule next week whether to remand the criminal case against FLDS leader Warren Jeffs back to the grand jury that indicted him.A lawyer for Jeffs, 52, was in Mohave Superior Court Friday for a hearing on a motion to remand the case on the grounds that Jeffs was denied his right to due process and had not received a fair and unbiased grand jury hearing.
"Absolutely nothing was done" by the county attorney to question or determine if grand jurors were biased against Jeffs because of the media coverage, lawyer Mike Picarreta said.
"If this is sufficient in this case, with all the publicity, then there is no right to a fair and unbiased grand jury," he said. "This is the most extreme situation (concerning media coverage) I've seen."
Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith agreed that media coverage of Jeffs had been extensive, but added that he had asked both grand juries numerous times if they could remain unbiased.
At least two jurors case excused themselves because they felt they could not be unbiased, he said.
"I think we went far and above any grand jury in this county (when dealing) with this case," Smith said.
After hearing from both sides, Judge Steven Conn said he would review the minutes of both grand juries and make a final written ruling. The judge granted a motion to quash a subpoena prosecutors filed to get FLDS records that were seized when Jeffs was arrested in Nevada in 2006.
After the hearing, Picarreta announced plans to file a motion to challenge any evidence or information seized in the raid on the FLDS Church's YFZ Ranch in Texas that may be used in Arizona's prosecution of Jeffs.
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