U.S. Supreme Court passes on Holm case
Jerel Harris / Daily News
Rodney Holm and Rodney Parker

Rodney Holm listens as attorney Rodney Parker (left) asks Fifth District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham to terminate Holm's supervised probation status on Dec. 15, 2005.

HURRICANE — The U.S. Supreme Court took a pass Monday on the Rodney Holm case and both the Utah Attorney General’s office and Holm’s attorney Rodney Parker believe it may be in part because Holm took an underage girl as his third wife.

In May 2006, the Utah Supreme Court was asked to determine if Holm was appropriately convicted for bigamy and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. The court was asked to determine if Holm violated Utah’s bigamy statute and if the statue is constitutional.

The Utah Supreme Court ruled that Holm’s constitutional rights were not violated when he was prosecuted for bigamy. That decision was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided Monday not to hear the case. The court did not give a reason for the decision.

The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the appeal of the former Hildale police officer was disappointing to Parker but not surprising.

Personally, I think because (Holm’s wife) was a minor it was a problem the court could not get beyond," Parker said.

Assistant Attorney General Laura Dupaix said the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court basically reaffirms what was decided by the Utah Supreme Court.

"Bottom line is that the U.S. Supreme Court held that Rodney Holm’s constitutional rights were not violated for prosecution of bigamy," Dupaix said. "The most critical faction in this case was it involved a minor. There is no religious freedom or constitutional right in having sex with a minor and ultimately, the minor colored this whole thing."

Holm, 40, was found guilty in a jury trial in 2003 on a charge of bigamy and two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor stemming from his 1998 marriage to his third wife — then his 16-year-old sister-in-law.

A follower of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints, which teaches polygamy as part of its doctrine, Holm also lost his certification as a police officer.

Holm is scheduled for a jury trial on March 20 for participating in spiritual marriages to girls under the age of 18 in Mohave County, Ariz.

In February 2006, the Utah Supreme Court decided to remove Hildale Justice Court Judge Walter Steed from the bench stating that Steed, who by his own admission had three wives and fathered 32 children, was "flaunting the prohibitions of the bigamy statute."

Steed, who also was represented by Rodney Parker, did not appeal the decision but Parker does foresee the day to appeal a similar case to the Supreme Court.

"I think it’s an important issue for the Supreme Court to deal with given the number of people involved in the practice," Parker said. "The court needs to look at this again with modern views."

Holm’s argument to the U.S. Supreme Court that the 128-year-old ruling in the Reynolds decision, which banned polygamy, is outdated.

Parker said he doesn’t think polygamy with consenting adults can be distinguished against other adult relationships.

Dupaix said as far as the Attorney General is concerned, their office is not targeting polygamy nor punishing polygamists. Instead, the focus of the office is targeting people who prey on children.

"Mark Shurtleff (Utah Attorney General) has made it clear that our concern is prosecuting crimes against children and we will do that no matter where that will be or if the person is a polygamist or not a polygamist," Dupaix said.
Originally published February 27, 2007