Jessop was indicted on charges that he conducted a ceremony prohibited by Texas law by marrying an underage girl to Warren Jeffs, the church head of the FLDS in 2006.
"When are you ready to go to trial?" 51st District Judge Barbara Walther asked Rae Leifeste, Jessop's new attorney. Jessop, who had been seated in the gallery, had just joined his attorney at the defendant's table at Walther's request.
Leifeste is a San Angelo attorney. He said he filed to be the new attorney on Wednesday.
Attorneys Amy Hennington and Gerald Goldstein had been filing motions for Jessop, such as a motion for continuance in April saying that there was too much information for them to be ready at a previous trial date.
The next pretrial is scheduled for 9:00AM June 27 in Schleicher County, and a trial date has been set for October 31 for Jessop.
Walther, Leifeste and Angela Goodwin, with the prosecuting office of the Attorney General of Texas, worked out scheduling details.
"I would anticipate it could be shorter" than other trials of FLDS men, Leifeste said.
Twelve FLDS men have been indicted and seven prosecuted for charges of bigamy and sexual assault of a child. Trials have lasted about two weeks per case.
Jessop will be the first FLDS member in this series of trials not to be tried for bigamy and sexual assault of a child. Conducting a ceremony prohibited by law is a third-degree felony, punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
The evidence against the men came from a raid on the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County, where Jessop has been a bishop, after a woman called claiming she was being abused at the ranch. Defense attorneys for the FLDS have insinuated that the call was a hoax, and the prosecution has not countered that allegation. More than 400 children were removed from the ranch but later returned to their families after a ruling from an appellate court.
"Oct. 31 would be fine," Goodwin told Walther, and the trial date was set.
Walther said there may be more pretrial hearings after the June 27 date.
Leifeste said he had not seen all of the discovery made available to Jessop's previous attorneys.
"I've only seen an outline of what exists," Leifeste said.
The hearing lasted about 25 minutes.
Jessop has been in Tom Green County's courthouse before on a civil matter in which he was ordered to pay $148,000 in child support to a former FLDS member, Carolyn Jessop, who left the sect and wrote a book about her experiences. Carolyn Jessop had a been a "spiritual wife," a relationship that the FLDS sanctions as a way of practicing polygamous marriage.
Carolyn Jessop has said Warren Jeffs excommunicated Frederick Merril Jessop from the sect. Asked whether that was true. Jessop said, "At this time I don't have anything to say."