By going public with their polygamist lifestyle via the TLC show Sister Wives The Brown family have made themselves a target for Utah law enforcement. In response, Kody and his wives have gone out and got themselves a big-time lawyer in the form of Jonathan Turley. Turley is a renowned constitutional law expert as well as a professor at the prestigious Georgetown University Law School.
The Lehi Police Department launched a felony bigamy investigation regarding Kody and his four wives after it was announced that they would be featured on the show. They completed their investigation and submitted the case to the Utah County Prosecutor’s Office. This is where the situation becomes a little complicated and interesting.
The investigation involves the crime of bigamy NOT polygamy. Kody is only legally married to his first wife Meri but under Utah law the family can be prosecuted under the umbrella of bigamy because of their cohabitation. The recent policy of law enforcement in Utah in regards to this crime has been to leave it alone as long as the families involved are not engaged in other wrong doing. The argument is that their are so many families living this lifestyle that it would be a waste of time and effort to pursue guilty parties.
On the surface, this can seem conflicting. Can law enforcement pick and choose which laws to enforce? Well actually they can and they do all the time. It’s a common practice birthed of the demands of resources and time. The law simply can’t go after all lawbreakers so there has to be some sort of priority chain and in Utah if consenting adults want to live together as the Brown’s do the law believes there are bigger fish to fry so to speak.
This is where Turley comes in for the Browns. If the County decides to prosecute despite the fact that this rarely ever happens then the Browns will fight this under the premise that the County would be using “selective prosecution” which is illegal. In speaking with TMZ, Turley stated that his goal is simply to have the County do what it almost always does with bigamy cases and leave the Brown family alone. This puts the County in a tight spot because other families aren’t on national TV thumbing their noses at the law in such an obvious way.
So what do you think Utah County should do? I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make that call, especially with a big dog like Turley on the case!
If you’re interested in what particular faith the Brown’s follow that they are careful not to specifically mention on the show check out my previous researched post here.
Top Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images