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Impasse » The two sides were essentially at an impasse over the issue.
"Defense counsel essentially enforced their failed protective order by advising their witnesses that they had a First Amendment right not to answer certain questions," the documents state.
Following the men’s depositions, federal attorneys asked a judge to force them to answer questions about their religion. Matura, Hamilton and others disagreed, writing that "the case involves religion only because the United States has alleged religious-discrimination claims." They also argued that the men already provided any relevant answers.
Ruling fallout » The court sided with the federal attorneys, but only to a certain point; while they can still ask questions, Matura said the ruling requires those questions to be "narrowly tailored" to the men’s official capacities.
"They can ask the questions, but the questions have to be tied to their jobs as city officials," Hamilton further explained.
The fallout of that ruling is yet to completely play out. Shem Jessop, Barlow and Darger haven’t been subpoenaed again for new depositions, and Matura said it’s up to the Department of Justice to decide whether the men will have additional depositions.
Attorneys have subpoenaed several other people, including Jeffs’ brother Lyle Jeffs last week, but due to the federal government shutdown this week, federal attorneys were forced to cancel those depositions for the time being.
Matura said Friday the case was effectively on hold while the government remains in shutdown. He added that he doesn’t know why the Department of Justice has pursued information about the men’s religion.
"I think the questions are wholly inappropriate," he said.
Federal attorneys working on the case could not be reached for comment.
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