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What's with Warren Jeffs' silent treatment?

Published August 4, 2011 10:09 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

What a day.

So what's Warren Jeffs doing, first by firing all his high-profile lawyers, insisting on representing himself and then sitting silently as the trial begins?

Is he trying to "manipulate the court" into giving him a trial delay, as Judge Barbara Walther said?

Or is he just protesting the whole thing, as he implied by saying "I continue to reject these continued proceedings"? If he was gunning for a delay, it didn't work. Walther told Jeffs right off the bat that he wouldn't get a continuance. Even though the prosecution said they were OK with holding off a couple days and Jeffs called the trial an "injustice," she stuck by it. It was hard to tell what exactly Jeffs was trying to say in his rambling, sermon-like 30-minute speech as court opened Thursday morning.He generally spoke in a lilting, clear voice, often with long pauses in between thoughts. When he first started a sentence it would sound like he was about to say something that made sense, though in an archaic way. But then he'd sort of diverge in a totally different direction.

I essentially took it to mean that Jeffs wants someone who will write down what he has to say and file it. The end. And he wants more time to find that person.

(I'd kind of like to read the motion he would file. Then again, it probably wouldn't answer any questions).

Here were the thoughts going through my head:

1. Jeffs has consistently told his people that this trial was never going to happen, that God would deliver him from jail.

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints followers even built a mansion in Hildale for him to live in when he was supposed to be freed around the first of the year, said Sam Brower, private investigator and author of "Prophet's Prey."

"I'm thinking he's desperate to make his prophecy come true," he said.

2. By refusing to participate in the trial, Jeffs could also be following his own "answer them nothing" principle — ignoring the court as he reportedly told his followers do.

(Here's a 2005 story about the idea in connection with the sect's communal property trust, which was taken over by the state of Utah).

So what's next? Will Jeffs bring back his attorneys, as the judge urged him to do? Or keep on answering nothing?