Holm free; sentence completed
Former Hildale officer still awaits hearing of appeal
ST. GEORGE -- Former police officer Rodney Holm completed his time in jail Wednesday, but the first brief in the appeal of Holm's case won't be filed until some time this month.

Holm's case in the Fifth District Court occurred last August. A jury convicted him of bigamy and two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor 16 or 17 years old, all third-degree felonies. Holm lives in the Hildale-Colorado City area polygamous community and is a follower of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints faith, which teaches polygamy in its doctrine.

He was sentenced to a year in the Washington County jail with work release privileges, a sentence which began three days after his Oct. 10 sentencing.

Holm was released Wednesday for time served, receiving credit for good time.

Holm's attorney, Rod Parker, filed in October for a motion to stay the jail sentence until the appeals process was complete, however he was denied.

"It's a little frustrating. This is why (we) filed a motion for a stay -- there was no way the appeal would be decided before (Holm) served his time," Parker said.

And although Holm finished his jail time, there is still good reason to continue with the appeal, Parker said.

The completion of a sentence never makes an appeal a moot point, said Assistant Attorney General Laura Dupaix.

"There's a harm he's suffered in addition to the sentence -- he still has a chance to get this off his record," said Dupaix, who is with the appeals division and handling the appeal for the Utah Attorney General's office.

Parker said with the current judgment, Holm is on three years probation, has to be registered as a sex offender and has a felony charge on his record -- not to mention being decertified as a police officer by Utah's Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

Parker said he hopes Holm's appeal will raise the important issues to help officials see polygamy as Parker does -- a practice protected by law.

"There's a lot of people in Utah practicing polygamy and they need to come to terms with that," he said.

Dupaix said she is not worried about the potential issues raised in the Holm appeal. Although the case will raise interesting constitutional issues, Dupaix said none of them warrant a reversal in the conviction.

It is not unusual for a defendant to complete or be well into a jail sentence before an appeal is complete, she said. The system realizes some people are in jail when they shouldn't be and makes allowances for stays of sentences. However, to receive a stay a substantial likelihood of a conviction reversal must be shown and stays are given rarely, Dupaix said.

As the appeal proceeds, Dupaix said the decision in the appeal of the Tom Green bigamy case -- something currently under consideration by the court -- could affect at least some of the issues in the Holm case.

After Parker files the first brief, Dupaix will file an opposing brief, after which Parker will file a reply. Oral arguments are then scheduled.

Both Parker and Dupaix said they expected it would be fall or winter before the oral arguments of the appeal case could be heard.
Originally published Friday, June 11, 2004