SALT LAKE CITY – An attorney for polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs is demanding the return of personal papers seized from the fugitive's vehicle when he was arrested near Las Vegas.
The "sacred" papers constitute privileged communication between the spiritual leader and his followers in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, attorney Richard Wright said in an emergency motion filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
Jeffs was captured Aug. 28 and has been brought to Utah to face state charges of rape by accomplice, accused of arranging a marriage between an underage girl and an older man.
Wright said the papers, laptop computers and recording devices seized from Jeffs' vehicle are protected by the constitutional right to freedom of religion.
"These records include confidential religious writings and teachings of the FLDS, as well as privileged communications with FLDS members," his motion says.
Jeffs, 50, was arrested after more than a year on the run and three months on the FBI's Most Wanted list. A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper stopped his vehicle north of Las Vegas because its temporary Colorado license tag was too hard to read.
FBI agents have said they found $54,000 in cash, cell phones, wigs, a police scanner, GPS device and ledgers containing the names of people who offered shelter and money to Jeffs while he was on the lam.
Jeffs remained in jail on Saturday, awaiting a status hearing set for Monday.
The sect broke away from the Mormon church more than a century ago and has been disavowed by the Mormons. Most of its members live in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.