Brown v. Buhman, No. 14-4117 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Kody Brown, Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Brown, and Robyn Sullivan (“the Browns”) form a “plural family.” Kody Brown is legally married to Meri Brown and “spiritually married” to the other three women, whom he calls “sister wives.” When the family became the subject of a TLC reality television show in 2010, the Lehi Police Department opened an investigation of the Browns for violating Utah’s bigamy statute, Utah Code Annotated section 76-7-101. The Browns then filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action in federal district court against the Governor and Attorney General of the State of Utah and the Utah County Attorney. Claiming the Statute infringed their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the Browns sought declaratory relief and a permanent injunction enjoining enforcement of the Statute against them. The Tenth Circuit concluded after review of this matter that the district court erred by proceeding to the merits: "[f]ollowing adoption of the [Utah County Attorney’s Office] UCAO Policy, the Browns’ suit ceased to qualify as an Article III case or controversy. Their suit was moot before the district court awarded them relief, and the court therefore lacked jurisdiction to decide the Browns’ claims."
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on May 13, 2016.