Court to decide whether 'Sister Wives' suit stands
Friday, July 6, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal judge scheduled arguments later this month on whether the stars of "Sister Wives" can continue challenging Utah's polygamy ban even though they won't be charged under it.
Police in Lehi opened an investigation on Kody Brown and his four wives after the reality TV show debuted in 2010. The Browns later sued, saying Utah's bigamy law violated their right to privacy.
Utah County prosecutors announced last month that they were closing the case without charging the family. They also said they have adopted a policy to not charge consenting adults in polygamous relationships unless they commit some other crime.
The Browns' suit against Utah County, the governor and state's attorney general claimed Utah's bigamy statute violated their constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, free exercise of religion, free speech and freedom of association.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups decided to let the case go forward. He found county attorneys' statements to the media about the investigation could have a "chilling effect" on the Browns' free speech.
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said the Browns' suit should be dismissed.
The family's Washington, D.C.-based constitutional law attorney argued Waddoups should make a summary judgment in their favor.
A hearing is set for July 25.
Brown moved his wives and 16 children from Lehi, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City, to the Las Vegas area in January 2011 after Utah authorities launched their bigamy investigation.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com
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