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Vallow's attorney allege she was manipulated by an IDHW employee into contacting LDS legal counsel

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Lori Vallow Daybell, front, second right, and her defense team wait to leave the courtroom during her hearing on Friday, March 6, 2020, in Rexburg.

ST. ANTHONY — Lori Vallow’s attorney alleged in a motion filed Wednesday that an employee with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare manipulated her into contacting a lawyer with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that that lawyer betrayed her trust.

Defense Attorney Mark Means writes in the motion that he learned of Vallow’s contact with the church lawyer while meeting with her on Oct. 15.

Vallow’s case, which includes first-degree murder charges for the deaths of her children, has been put on hold after Judge Steven Boyce declared she was not mentally capable of contributing to her own defense, and has been receiving treatment from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare since.

According to the motion, Vallow was watching court proceedings in her husband Chad Daybell’s case on Oct. 5 with an Idaho Department of Health and Welfare clinician identified as “N.C.” in the motion.

N.C. reportedly told Vallow she should contact the church’s legal counsel to receive assistance in her case.

“N.C. took the ‘recommendation’ further and then provided Defendant with the direct telephone number to contact LDS church counsel and issued an ‘order’ that this was part of the Defendant’s ‘homework’ for her treatment,” Means wrote in the motion.

The motion emphasizes that Vallow did not want to speak to the church, but was allegedly told to do so by the clinician.

Vallow reportedly called the church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City and was transferred to Daniel S. McConkie.

Means alleges Vallow was allowed to believe she had attorney-client privilege with McConkie, and that McConkie failed to disclose that there was no privilege and that he is not licensed to practice law in Idaho. Means alleges that McConkie waited until after Vallow made disclosures about her case to say he would find her an attorney who practiced in Idaho and “get back to her.”

“Mr. McConkie never got ‘back to her’ but instead called Prosecutor Mr. (Rob) Wood to discuss the matter and the conversation and disclose the statements of the Defendant,” the motion states.

Means’ motion states the defense only learned of the phone call because Wood contacted Defense Attorney James Archibald, who is defending Vallow as co-counsel with Means. The motion states Wood disclosed “minimal” details and said Vallow did not want a state-appointed attorney such as Archibald working on her case.

The motion states that after Oct. 15 Vallow told N.C., the clinician, that she told her attorneys about the call.

“N.C. response was ‘no you didn’t?’ and was described as having a ‘concerned’ look on her face,” Means wrote.

Means’ motion alleges the clinician used Vallow’s religious beliefs to manipulate her into acting against her own interests.

“These behaviors are, as they appear, are abhorrent and blatant manipulation of the incompetent Defendant,” Means wrote.

The motion brings The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into the middle of a highly publicized case that has often centered around the religious beliefs of Vallow and Daybell. Means suggests in his motion that the church may have worked with the prosecution to coerce Vallow into making statements to McConkie.

“Mr. McConkie has made himself a witness to this matter as well as opened the doors of the LDS Church/Corporation to be obliged to produce all internal/external memorandums, notes, emails, recordings, text, voice mails, and the like regarding their dealings with the State/Prosecution and the Defendant,” Means writes.

The motion calls for an investigation into the incident and contact between the prosecution and the church.

Means also demands that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare be disqualified from treating Vallow.

Greg Stahl, public information officer for IDHW, released a statement in response to the claims against the clinician.

“(The Department of Health and Welfare) will follow standard procedures when there are allegations of possible employee misconduct,” Stahl said. “However, such investigations are confidential because they are an employee matter.”

Wood and Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake released a statement in response to a question from the Post Register, and called Means’ allegations “unfounded.”

“The State will continue to focus on pursuing justice on behalf of the victims,” the statement reads. “We will address the unfounded claims by one of Ms. Daybell’s defense attorneys in a court of law — not in the media.”

Means accused the prosecution of being overly aggressive in its motions to seal documents and hearings in Vallow’s case, and said he would oppose any motion to seal his motion.

Wood and Blakely argued in their statement, however, that such issues should not play out publicly.

“Filings of this nature are traditionally sealed and handled in confidential proceedings. Litigating such matters publicly can compromise both parties’ right to (a) fair trial and compromise various individuals’ rights to privacy. The mental health issues and investigations are not suited for the court of public opinion.”

McConkie’s law firm, Kirton McConkie, issued a statement in response to the motion.

“On October 6, 2021, Kirton McConkie received an unsolicited call from Lori Daybell seeking assistance,” the statement reads. “Kirton McConkie informed Mrs. Daybell that it could not provide advice or representation and directed her to the State Bar of Idaho or the court if she needed assistance in finding an attorney. Subsequent calls with her counsel and the prosecutor confirmed the unsolicited contact.”

Archibald told the Post Register in a text message that he could not talk about the motion.

“I can’t comment at this time about what Mark Means filed,” Archibald said.

A hearing date has not been set for arguments on the motion. Vallow is accused of conspiring with Daybell to murder her two children, 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, who were found buried on Daybell’s property in June 2020. Daybell faces a potential death penalty.

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