Family Law

Meet Polygamous Sect Lawyer Rod Parker

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Rod Parker
Courtesy of Rod Parker.

The man who served as both spokesman and lawyer for the polygamous sect that fought to regain its children got the job by happenstance.

Rod Parker, a lawyer with Snow, Christensen & Martineau in Salt Lake City, had just returned to the law firm after a stint at the Justice Department when the firm asked him to write a brief in a sect case, the Deseret News reports. Parker’s work at Justice in the administration of George H.W. Bush had involved mostly land and natural resources issues.

His focus at the law firm is on family law, litigation and appeals. But since his initial assignment, Parker has represented the sect over the course of 15 years.

Parker is a Catholic, although a genealogy search shows he is a descendant of a polygamist.

He and his wife have become better acquainted with church members; his wife quilted with church members and his children attended the group’s harvest festival, the story says.

He admits he parted ways with the sect three years ago when he thought two suits against it were defensible, but the church decided to settle.

A phone call from FLDS Church elder Willie Jessop after the sect raid brought Parker back on board. “They really needed help. It was the kind of call you cannot say ‘no’ to,” he told the Deseret News.

“I never had any doubt that what the state had done was wrong and that we were on the right side of the fight. Sometimes, as the lawyer, you question if you’re on the right side of the fight, but in this case it was obvious.”

Parker was credited for pushing the church to be more open with the press in an effort to inject a human element into media reports. The Texas Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that state officials overstepped their authority by removing some 468 children from their homes at a sect compound.

Sect leaders have since announced that they will no longer allow underage teen marriages.

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