Louis Godfrey is a freelance writer covering the Warren Jeffs’ trial for City Weekly. His semi-daily reports can be read at CityWeekly.BlogSpot.com.
Did Warren Jeffs’ guilty verdict surprise you? Yes and no. Conventional wisdom seemed to indicate Jeffs would have a tough time getting the jury to look past what is widely seen as monstrous behavior. But there were doubts about the appropriateness of the charges and whether the idea of religious persecution might make some jurors uneasy.
How well did Judge James Shumate hold up under pressure? He seemed collected throughout and was good in applying equal standards in terms of what was admissible in questioning. However, there were reports of him referring to polygamy as an act of civil disobedience, which may be an issue at sentencing.
Were Jeffs’ mannerisms those of a prophet? It was amazing how little presence he had in the courtroom. He would sit there and stare straight ahead. You could see him as a religious prophet, or you could see him as a vaguely odd and creepy-looking man at the end of the courtroom.
Where was his charisma when he needed it? The jury was able to see him as being capable of exercising that power. They referred to him as “the defendant prophet” and that he had that power over her. So he wasn’t able to exercise control over the jury, but they were able to see how he could exercise control over others.
Why the media frenzy for this story? The freak factor. And I think the idea of religion being on trial draws a lot of people. And, for this trial, that’s what it was. They were literally haggling over what these teachings about submission and obedience of wives to husbands mean. cw