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Judge Quashes Subpoena Given to Reporter

Judge Quashes Subpoena Given to Reporter

Posted - May 25, 2007 at 4:02 p.m.



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Gene Kennedy ReportingThe judge in the Warren Jeffs hearing today quashed a subpoena given to a Deseret Morning News reporter by the defense team.

Fifth District Judge James Shumate didn't rule on the merits of the subpoena but said Ben Winslow received it just 24 hours ago, which was not enough time before today's hearing.

Ben Winslow received the papers yesterday at the federal courthouse. He was there while covering proceedings in the federal case involving Warren Jeffs.

This all stems from a story Winslow wrote weeks ago about a letter Jeffs wanted to give the judge back in April. Warren Jeffs asked the judge if he could approach the bench. Judge Shumate declined Jeffs' request saying his counsel could take care of the matter for him.

Judge Quashes Subpoena Given to Reporter

A photographer for the Deseret Morning New shot a picture, with the note in it. Later, the newspaper digitally enhanced the photo, and had it analyzed by experts. They said the note said Jeff stated he was not a prophet of God and that he had failed to lead the people of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Winslow's confidential sources had said that Jeffs stated he wasn't a prophet of God. The newspaper says it had independent sources confirming that information, but Jeff's lawyers say those sources had no right to read the note or give reporter Ben Winslow information about it.

The defense says it jeopardizes Jeffs' right to a fair trial. His lawyers are trying to force Winslow to reveal his sources. That's something journalists don't take lightly.

Jeffs' attorneys wanted to put Winslow on the stand and ask him to name unidentified sources in his stories about the case.

The Deseret Morning News was prepared to fight the subpoena in court today. The paper's editor says the Deseret Morning News will fight this to the Utah Supreme Court if need be. "Basically we've made a motion to quash the subpoena, set it aside just simply as a clear invasion of the first amendment," Cannon says.

Winslow said he would not reveal his sources, even if it meant going to jail.

Shumate says photographers will be allowed to attend the Jeffs trial, but he says photo enhancement will be prohibited.

The 51-year-old leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is charged with two first-degree felony counts of rape as an accomplice. The charges stem from his role in a 2001 arranged marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.

Prosecutors contend the girl was coerced into the marriage by Jeffs.

A judge also ruled today that the leader of a polygamous sect is competent to stand trial and set a date for September 10.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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