A February lawsuit challenging Utah’s bigamy law may soon be dismissed. Kody Brown and his four Sister Wives brought the suit after Utah County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman launched an investigation into the family’s unique ways.
But now Buhman has asked the court to dismiss the Sister Wives lawsuit, claiming that he has changed his mind. He has told the court that he will no longer pursue the Browns unless he finds out they are breaking other, non-bigamy laws.
Will his request be granted?
Probably, as his change of heart makes the lawsuit moot and strips the Browns of standing.
In order to bring a federal lawsuit, there must be an actual controversy at issue. A controversy becomes moot when the plaintiffs have received the remedy they sought. Though the Sister Wives lawsuit is about the bigamy law, the family was really seeking to prevent the county from bringing charges. Jeffrey Buhman has already agreed not to prosecute the Browns.
This agreement also means the Browns no longer have standing to sue. Federal lawsuits require the plaintiff be injured or be subject to immenent injury. Judge Clark Waddoups had previously dismissed the state and attorney general from the suit for this very reason, reports the Associated Press.
Both parties had stated they had no plans of prosecuting the Sister Wives under the bigamy law. Only individuals who break other laws will face prosecution. This is the same policy adopted by Buhman for Utah County. The Browns are arguably no longer subject to imminent injury.
Nonetheless, there are no plans to drop the Sister Wives lawsuit. The family filed a 71-page motion for summary judgment on Thursday, according to their lawyer. They are convinced the bigamy law violates their right to privacy and religious freedom.
- Sister Wives Family Won’t Face Bigamy Charges, Says Utah Prosecutor (E Online)
- ‘Sister Wives’ Family to Help Legalize Bigamy? (FindLaw’s Law & Daily Life)
- What is Standing to Sue? (FindLaw’s Law & Daily Life)