This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," September 11, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Former assistant DA Jim Hammer was in the courtroom today for the Warren Jeffs trial, and he came face to face with the polygamist leader. Jim joins us live outside the St. George, Utah, courthouse. Jim, tell me, how was it today? What did you see and what did you learn?
JIM HAMMER, FORMER ASST. SAN FRANCISCO DA: Well, like you said, Greta, I was face to face for the first time with Warren Jeffs as I was led in the judge's private conference room where this voir dire was happening. I was one of two media representatives.
The questioning went on — and we've talked about that the case is not about polygamy or his religious faith. More than half of the questions, Greta, dealt asking the jurors about polygamy, about their own religious faith and about their views about Jeffs' own FLDS.
But probably the most shocking moment, Greta, was when his defense attorneys told some of the jurors that they would hear evidence not just that Jeffs presided over the wedding of the accuser in this case and her alleged rapist, but that he got direct revelations from God about who should marry whom in this community. Shocking stuff in that courtroom today.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jim, how about the responses to those questions and the people who responded in any particular way, were they — are they going to remain as part of the panel or not?
HAMMER: Well, I'll tell you, it's been very tough sledding in there. I watched four different jurors during two different sessions. Of the four, Greta, three got kicked off. And I've got to say, the judge in this case, who I met for the first time today, is very actively involved in this, and I'll tell you, is bending over backwards to make sure that there's a fair jury.
One juror said this: I can't imagine anybody in this town who's not heard about this case. Every single person coming in has views about it. The question, Greta, is, Can they put them aside? And the judge is doing his best to pick this jury.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. How far away were you from Warren Jeffs, and make eye contact with him? What did you think.
HAMMER: Well, I was about — literally about eight feet away. It's a pretty small conference room. He's got three defense attorneys. What was really interesting to watch is as each juror was brought in individually into this room, Jeffs made very direct eye contact, I have to say, with a smile, especially for the women jurors that were brought in, really trying to, I think, communicate with his body language and facial expressions.
We've talked about his mental state, Greta. He was very actively involved today. He had a set of notes in front of him. And one point, he looked at some of the notes his attorneys had taken and the questionnaire filled out by these jurors. So from my observations today, no question at all he's competent, actively involved and paying attention to the jurors that his attorneys are helping to pick for his trial.
VAN SUSTEREN: Were any jurors during the jury selection — were they informed that the actual rapist, the one who actually had sex with the 14- year-old, was not criminally charged, at least not in this particular case? Were any of the potential jurors informed of that and asked whether or not that would make a difference in their ability to be fair?
HAMMER: You know, Greta, that was one of the questions on the questionnaire, so the lawyers have their answers. And that was not the thing that came up. But most of the talk in that room today was about religion, about polygamy, about multiple wives and about 14-year-olds in Utah having the power to give consent, again, with the twist we talked about last night, that simply enticing a 14-year-old girl to have sex, if that's not what she wanted to do, can make Warren Jeffs guilty in this case. Each of them were asked about that, and each said they would follow the law.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Jim. Stand by. And since being nabbed by police on August 28, 2006, Warren Jeffs has been held at the Purgatory Correctional Facility at Purgatory Flats, Utah. Earlier today, Jim Hammer visited the jail.
HAMMER: ... walking over towards the jail facility itself. Tell us how big it is, what kind of prisoners are held here.
LT. JAKE ADAMS, PURGATORY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY: The facility itself is a 450-bed facility. It houses everything from our local county inmates to state inmates who have been convicted of, you know, murder and everything else. We have federal inmates, as well.
HAMMER: Now, I know you're not allowed to talk about Warren Jeffs himself because of the gag order, but is it typical for prisoners who might be standing trial in St. George to be held here at this facility?
ADAMS: Yes, it is.
HAMMER: And then transported in daily?
VAN SUSTEREN: If someone like Warren Jeffs were convicted after trial, how is it decided where they would serve their sentence, whether it's here or at some other state prison? How does that process work?
ADAMS: You know, they go to the state prison initially. All sentenced prisoners do. And once...
HAMMER: Where is that? Is there a specific facility where they're received after conviction?
ADAMS: Yes, the Utah state prison is at the — it's in Salt Lake.
HAMMER: So that's, what, five, six hours from here.
ADAMS: Yes, it's 300 miles from here.
HAMMER: And then they decide upon where someone is housed eventually.
ADAMS: Yes. A person can apply to serve their time in a county facility or stay at the state facility. And really, it's up to the prison to decide who goes where.
HAMMER: And I take it, then, they can ask to be housed in a prison near where they're from, essentially.
ADAMS: They can ask, yes.
HAMMER: Would this be the closest facility to, let's say, Colorado City?
ADAMS: Yes, it is.
VAN SUSTEREN: Warren Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is not to be confused with the Mormon church. Jeffs is believed to have at least 40 wives and nearly 60 children. He also says he's a prophet.
Warren Jeffs's former lawyer, Rod Parker, joins us in Salt Lake City, Utah. Rod, how is it that you came to know Warren Jeffs?
ROD PARKER, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR WARREN JEFFS: Well, I became involved with representation of the fundamentalist group about 15 years ago, in a legal case involving their real estate down there and formed relationships and did their legal work for many years thereafter.
VAN SUSTEREN: Based on the timing, it sounds like you probably knew Warren's father, as well, even before you knew Warren?
PARKER: That's correct. I knew his father quite well. He was the person who ultimately made the decisions in many of the cases that we had. And then later on, we represented Warren directly in one or two cases, as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's he like?
PARKER: Well, I have heard him described as charismatic. I think I would agree with that. I'm not sure that that's very apparent from the footage that we see in the courtroom. But when he is with his followers, he is quite likable and quite charismatic. I think he's also quite intelligent.
VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of your relationship with him, are you a member of his church?
PARKER: No, I'm not. I never have been.
VAN SUSTEREN: So your relationship is strictly professional.
PARKER: That's correct.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you ever see anything peculiar, in your mind?
PARKER: I'm not sure what you mean by that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, in terms of — I mean, was there ever any sort of — you know, anything you felt might be criminal activity having to do with Warren Jeffs?
PARKER: Well, no. I mean, we were, of course, aware that they were practicing polygamy down there. Everybody knows that. And the issues regarding young marriages and child brides, those things were coming up and we were very aware of that. I represented Rodney Home (ph), who was the police officer charged with a bigamist relationship and underage sex. So yes, we were very aware of those things. I guess it was the way you phrased that question that kind of threw me.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess it was inartfully phrased. I will agree with that. In terms of the law in Utah — maybe you don't know this because you handled real estate matters for them. But do you know the age of consent in Utah, when a woman can consent to having sex?
PARKER: Well, yes. and I have handled many things for them. My initial involvement was real estate, but we've handled criminal cases. We've handled all kinds of cases. The age of consent in Utah is 16, if you have the consent, the written consent, of a parent. It's 14 if you have the written consent of a judge and a parent.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this, in your view, as sort of an outsider — you're not representing him in this case. Is this a fair prosecution, or is this a political trial, do you think?
PARKER: Well, I think there's a very political dimension to this. We hear this spoken of in terms of child brides and he arranged this marriage and those kind of things. So you have to remember in this case, he's not being charged with arranging the marriage, he's being charged with something else arising out of the religious counsel that he gave to a member in a religious setting that was separate from the events that are charged as the crime.
So I think it is — it does have a political dimension. Maybe this is what they think they can get him on, but it seems pretty tenuous to me and I think it has some constitutional problems, as well. When you're charging a religious leader with a crime based on the words that he uses in religious counseling sessions that don't directly instruct a member to commit a crime, which these words did not, I think that really raises some serious concerns.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are there others in the community who are saying the same thing as you are — obviously, the prosecutors are not saying that, but others in the community who agree with you.
PARKER: You mean in the fundamentalist community?
VAN SUSTEREN: No, no. I mean in the legal community.
PARKER: Oh, yes. I think that — now, maybe I get a filtered view because people know what my role has been with these people, but many, many people that I've talked to agree with me on that issue, that if they want to charge a crime, charge the crime that they think he's guilty of. But this is a constitutional problem, and I don't think it's a crime. I think there are many people who agree with me on that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Rod, thank you.
PARKER: You're welcome.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why do many of Warren Jeffs's followers continue to support him? Andrew Chatwin is a former FLDS member, and he knows Jeffs well. Andrew Chatwin joins us from St. George, Utah. Welcome, Andrew.
ANDREW CHATWIN, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: Hello, Greta. How are you doing?
VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. So Andrew, why do a lot of people follow Warren Jeffs?
CHATWIN: They were born there. They don't know anything else.
VAN SUSTEREN: Were you born there, Andrew?
CHATWIN: Yes, I was.
VAN SUSTEREN: And then at some point, you decided to leave, is that right?
CHATWIN: I did, about 10 years ago, when his father was in charge.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did you leave?
CHATWIN: I didn't agree with what they were doing. I saw a lot of abuse among the people.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you said 10 years ago...
CHATWIN: I saw it go...
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me just ask you something — 10 years ago, was that when his father was running it, or is that when he was running the religion?
CHATWIN: I watched his father groom Warren Jeffs for the leadership, and I disagreed with what his father was doing. The community actually went really, really cold when I left.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there something that you see that Warren Jeffs has done criminally wrong, not something you disagree with him on religious grounds but criminally wrong?
CHATWIN: I see a lot of it. I know that — well, how would you put it? It's really a big story that this is kind of like the tip of the iceberg here at this courthouse, the abuse that he has done to the people. What they are doing on paperwork and what they are doing in real life is two different things. And in my opinion, they have established a king and did away with the Constitution of the United States here. He owns everything down there. He owns the police department, both mayors, all of the businesses. He owns the families, their homes. People don't realize that the Constitution does not exist here for these people.
VAN SUSTEREN: If you want to leave, can you leave?
CHATWIN: You do have a choice. But you don't have the right, as far as Warren is concerned, to disagree with him. So yes, you do have a choice to leave, but he strips you of everything. I know of men that have had everything stripped from them, and they went out and committed suicide shortly afterwards because they couldn't take the loss of their family and their homes and everything that they knew and grew up with.
VAN SUSTEREN: Andrew, thank you. And good luck, sir.
CHATWIN: Yes. You're welcome.
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