Polygamist leaders in Canada face 2010 hearing

Creston, Canada - A judge in Canada has set a hearing next year for two men facing criminal charges of practicing polygamy.

Court records show that during an appearance in a provincial court in Creston, British Columbia, on Thursday, a judge scheduled a preliminary hearing beginning April 19, 2010 for Winston Blackmore and James Oler. The hearing could last as long as a month.

Oler, 44, is a bishop in the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Blackmore, 52, was a high ranking leader in the same church until he was excommunicated by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs back in 2002.

The FLDS have a colony in the town of Bountiful, British Columbia. It split when Blackmore was excommunicated, with some following Blackmore and others remaining with Oler.

Both men are charged with practicing polygamy. Blackmore is accused of having 19 wives, Oler is accused of having three.

Lawyers for the two men are seeking to have the charges tossed. The Vancouver Sun newspaper reported Thursday that a hearing will be held in British Columbia's Supreme Court next week on Blackmore's application to have the charges stayed because the polygamy charge is either unfair and politically motivated or unconstitutional.