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Confusion results in new deadline for FLDS in ranch seizure case

Published January 4, 2013 5:40 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A brewing battle between the FLDS church and the state of Texas was put on ice Friday when government attorneys discovered they didn't actually serve the right people with the right court documents.

Texas attorneys moved to take control of the church's Yearning for Zion Ranch on Nov. 27 when they filed a 91-page seizure warrant. The warrant alleged that the ranch functioned as a remote base for molesting children. According to Attorney General of Texas spokeswoman Lauren Bean, the case documents were served on Warren Jeffs, who is in prison, and his brother Issac Jeffs while he was visiting Warren. A copy of the documents also was taped to the gate at the ranch.

Earlier this week, both sides agreed to give FLDS attorneys until Friday to respond to the allegations, which amounted to a civil lawsuit.

But by Friday, no one had filed a response from the FLDS.

Dan Gerson, who represents the FLDS in the case, confirmed Friday that he had not filed a response.

But Bean said the Friday deadline no longer applied after lawyers from her office learned that the correct people had not been served. Bean explained that at some point attorneys learned that rather than the Jeffs brothers, they actually needed to serve an "unknown possessor" of the ranch. Bean did not have information about the unknown possessor's identity or how attorneys learned the correct party hadn't been served.

However, that party had finally been served by Friday, Bean said.

As a result of the confusion, FLDS attorneys now have until Jan. 28 to respond to the state's attempt to seize the ranch.

— Jim Dalrymple

Twitter: @jimmycdii