July 27, 2009
As courtroom drama goes, the upcoming trials in the quiet West Texas oasis of San Angelo should be humdingers: a dozen male members of a Mormom polygamist sect have been indicted on a bevy of charges, ranging from bigamy to sex with a child, stemming from a raid last year in which protective service officials removed more than 400 children from the Yearning For Zion compound. The trials are set to begin in October. But as every lawyer knows, this summer's crop of pre-trial motions, however boring they may sound, will greatly shape the jury verdicts — or any possible plea bargains — by largely determining what is allowed to be used in the trials and what isn't.
But Charles Bubany, a professor who teaches criminal procedure at Texas Tech University School of Law, says the admissibility of the evidence likely will boil down to whether the judge had a reasonable belief that there was criminal activity taking place at the ranch regardless of the after-the-fact discovery of the false report. The same judge who signed the search warrant and greenlighted the raid, Texas District Judge Barbara Walther, is presiding over the criminal cases