Prominent former Utahn James Huntsman has made good on a vow to challenge September’s decision by a federal judge to strike down his high-profile fraud lawsuit against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over tithing.
His 55-page appeal filed Friday in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says, among other things, that U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson in California was wrong when he struck down Huntsman’s legal assertions and incorrectly strayed into deciding elements of the case that should have been left to a jury.
Huntsman’s attorneys urge the appeals court to reverse Wilson’s summary judgment and send the case back to U.S. district court for an eventual jury trial.
His original suit, filed last May, accused Latter-day Saint leaders of lying on at least five occasions by saying that tithing — considered sacred funds contributed by church members worldwide — was never spent on commercial ventures, while they diverted as much as $2 billion to an ailing insurance company and to City Creek Center, a church-owned shopping mall in downtown Salt Lake City.
Huntsman is seeking to recover nearly $5 million in tithing, interest and penalties.
His appeal also says Wilson misapplied fraud laws and incorrectly overlooked key evidence. Church lawyers have 30 days to respond.
Here is his appeal: