Polygamist hearing leaves many questions

June 25, 2008 at 2:53 PM
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SAN ANGELO, Texas, June 25 (UPI) -- A Texas court heard five hours of debate on a judge's alleged bias, an attorney's conduct and if a teenager from a polygamous sect could make her own decisions.

Teresa Jeffs, 16, was weary as she left the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo.

"I'm sick of everything," she said to a reporter from The Salt Lake Tribune after clashing with her own attorney, Natalie Malonis.

The hearing addressed Malonis' successful request for extension of a temporary restraining order barring contact between Jeffs and Willie Jessop, a spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Malonis alleges Jessop is interfering in her relationship with her client.

But attorneys for Annette Jeffs, the teen's mother tried unsuccessfully to get 51st District Judge Barbara Walther to disqualify Malonis as Teresa's lawyer based on Malonis expected testimony at a related grand jury investigation of alleged child abuse at the FLDS sect's Yearning for Zion Ranch.

The attorneys then asked Walther to let another judge preside over the restraining order hearing, arguing she could not be impartial after widely publicized reports she had been threatened by FLDS "enforcers." An administrative judge rejected the request and the hearing proceeded.

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