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Motion to remove judge in Warren Jeffs' trial is denied

By David Fitzpatrick, CNN Special Investigations
  • Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is scheduled to go on trial Monday
  • He has been charged with sexual assault and bigamy
  • It was Jeffs' second attempt to remove the judge since being jailed in Texas

(CNN) -- A last minute motion by polgyamist leader Warren Jeffs to remove a Texas judge assigned to hear sexual assault charges against him was denied Tuesday by a different Texas judge.

According to an opinion written by Judge John G. Hyde of Midland, Texas, Jeffs' attempt -- his second since being jailed in Texas -- to remove Judge Barbara Walther was denied.

"Ultimately, Judge Walther's actions should not be measured by a yardstick of perfection, but by a standard of procedural fair play," wrote Hyde.

Attorneys for Jeffs had argued that Walther's receipt of two documents from state officials were "prejudicial extra judicial communications." But Hyde rejected those claims, saying the case made by Jeffs' lawyers "rests on innuendo and supposition."

Jeffs has been charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of bigamy stemming from a 2008 raid by the Texas Rangers against a ranch called Yearning For Zion, a compound operated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a break away sect of the mainstream Mormon Church.

Authorities removed 400 children whom they feared had been sexually abused. While some of the men at the ranch were charged with sexual abuse, most of the children were later returned to their families.

One final motion hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in San Angelo, Texas before the scheduled start of the sexual assault trial on Monday. Jeffs is expected to go on trial to face the bigamy charge at a later date.