Lyle Jeffs, the polygamist religious leader indicted in a huge food stamp fraud, violated his house arrest this summer by coating his ankle monitor in olive oil, sliding it off, and vanishing. As his lawyer, Jeffs’s public defender attorney cannot help authorities find her missing client (nor can she assist Jeffs in eluding the police). Thus Kathryn Nester filed court documents last week asking for a continuance, writing,
“As this Court is well aware, Mr. Jeffs is currently not available to inform his counsel whether or not he agrees to the Continuance. Whether his absence is based on absconding, as oft alleged by the Government in their filings, or whether he was taken and secreted against his will, or whether he experienced the miracle of rapture is unknown to counsel.”
Washington Post reporter Cleve R. Wootson Jr. describes this development as follows:
“Jeffs’s attorney has put forth a divine reason for his disappearance — the miracle of rapture..”
If Nester really did claim that the Rapture was the reason Jeffs vanished, she would be engaging in sanctionable dishonesty and a misrepresentation to the court. The one who is lying, however, is Wootson and, as his editors let him do it, the Post. All Nester said was that she did not know why Jeffs was missing, and mentioned three of many alternative fates that she had no knowledge of whatsoever. Her job is to try to defend him from additional criminal charges, and at this point, that means arguing that nobody can say with certainly that he is a fugitive from justice. That is the opposite of saying “one of these things happened.” It is saying “I don’t know what is behind his disappearance, and neither does the FBI. Here are three of many explanation that I cannot, based on my knowledge, rule out.”
She could, with equal honesty and accuracy, have added, “or whether he spontaneously combusted, or whether he died of sudden heart attack and his body was stolen by a mad scientist trying to create a zombie army, or whether aliens from outer space used a transporter to send him to their ship, where he is now being subject to anal probes.” She put forth no “divine reason” for her client’s disappearance. She said, quite clearly and unambiguously, that she doesn’t know what happened or why he’s missing. She did not, as the Post’s click-bait headline suggests ( “Where is fugitive polygamist Lyle Jeffs? Possibly swept away in the rapture, his lawyer says”) posit the Rapture as the reason by simply listing it as one of many alternatives she can’t vouch for. She chose her language properly and carefully.
Nevertheless, the Post intentionally implied that Nester was proposing an absurd alibi for her client, mocking her and religious faith for a cheap shot at the legal profession.
Meanwhile, numerous publications are using the Post’s false characterization to provoke guffaws, such as..
…the Denver Post: “Lawyer: Fugitive polygamist Lyle Jeffs may have been swept away in the rapture”
…Fox News: “Did fugitive FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs get swept up in the Rapture?”
…the Keyser MineralNews Tribune: “Lawyer says fugitive polygamist Lyle Jeffs may have been swept away in the Rapture”
What a biased, lazy, inept, juvenile, nasty, untrustworthy enterprise U.S. journalism has become. Its bias is only exceeded by the pervasive stupidity of its practitioners.
Pointer: Greg Wiggins