Reality TV takes on a whole new purpose when it reveals the illegal. However, for one family in Utah, there will be no legal ramifications. For the Brown family, their private lives were exposed when they agreed to be the subjects of a reality TV show, “Sister Wives”, on TLC. The show, now in its third season, portrays a man, named Kody Brown, and his four wives, and their 16 children. Polygamy is illegal.
When authorities found that Brown was having marital relations with four women at one time, they decided to pursue criminal charges. When the Browns found out about this, they decided to sue. As a counter-measure, the attorney for Utah County, Jeff Buhman, closed the case. It does not appear to have done any good for the county, though, as the Browns have sued Utah county, Utah’s governor and the attorney general. The reason behind the lawsuit, according to the Browns, is that the statute against bigamy is a violation of their constitutional rights. They said that the Constitution gives them right to due process, free exercise of religion, equal protection, free speech and freedom of association.
The suit was brought before U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups, who dismissed Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Gov. Gary Herbert from the case. The judge said he dismissed these two because Shurtleff has a policy that prohibits them from being prosecuted, if all parties are consenting adults.
The judge did not drop the case against Utah county, stating that the Browns still have reason to believe they could still be prosecuted in Utah county. He agreed that it could lead the Browns to believe they could not exercise their constitutional rights.
That left Buhman holding the bag. He has submitted a motion to have the case against Utah county dismissed in full. He has stated in his motion that he has dropped all charges, and that Utah county has recently adopted the same policy that Attorney General Shuttleff has.
Buhman wrote that the case against the Browns had been dropped, and that no new charges will be filed, unless there is evidence found of other crimes.
The Browns, however, will not be deterred. Their lawyer, Jonathan Turley, stated he is pleased that there would be no charges, but states that the Browns will continue with their lawsuit. He said the state law is unconstitutional. Turley also said that the Browns have gone through years of being publicly called felons by the prosecutors, and had to move to Nevada to protect their children and family. He said he felt a great relief that the Browns were finally out from under that long-standing threat.
The show, “Sister Wives”, originally aired in 2010. The show started following the Brown family where they lived in Lehi, Utah. It shows the daily operations of a family with four wives, one husband and 16 children. Although Kody Brown lives with four women, he is only legally married to one, claiming his other wives through a spiritual union.