Allegedly Corrupt Force Kept Intact, Under Watch

     (CN) – Though he refused to disband a rural police force allegedly controlled by a fundamentalist Mormon sect, a federal judge ordered 10-year surveillance of the officers to prevent further religious discrimination.
     Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne moved in June to disband the Marshal’s Office for the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, and appoint a federal monitor over municipal services in the towns, most of whose residents are members of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).
     Calling the local police forces the “de facto law enforcement arm of the FLDS Church,” Horne noted that former town police chief Helaman Barlow had admitted as much in an April 22 deposition for the U.S. government’s ongoing civil rights case against the towns.
     Barlow’s admissions had differed from his testimony in a trial earlier this year on claims Colorado City denied a couple water and other services because they were not FLDS members.
     Both Arizona and Utah intervened in Ronald and Jinjer Cooke’s case, which ended with a federal jury in Phoenix awarding the couple $5.2 million for the years-long water and power deprivation.
     U.S. District Judge James Teilborg ruled Thursday that disbanding the Marshal’s Office according to Horne’s wishes would “burden both defendants and the state with a layer of bureaucracy extending into potential perpetuity.”
     Instead, Teilborg permanently enjoined the defendants in the case – Colorado City, Hildale, Hildale-Colorado City Utilities, Twin City Water Authority and Twin City Power – from “discriminating on the basis of religion in performing their official duties.”
     The court will retained jurisdiction over the case for 10 years, according to the ruling.
     “If defendants violate the injunction, the state or an aggrieved party will be able to move for an order finding defendants in contempt and assessing appropriate remedies,” Teilborg wrote. “This will lessen the burden of remedying any future discrimination vis-à-vis filing a new lawsuit. This injunction recognizes that because it has been proven that defendants have engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination, defendants’ future conduct merits heightened scrutiny.”
     Teilborg also fined each of the defendants $50,000 for violating the Arizona Fair Housing Act.     
     Gratified by the ruling, Colorado City’s attorney Jeffrey Matura noted that the “request to disband the Marshal’s Department was beyond the scope of this case.”
     “Therefore, Colorado City believes the court was correct to deny it,” Matura said in an email. “The court also created an expedited process to handle any future complaints regarding alleged discrimination with respect to utilities. Although Colorado City hopes that no future complaints will exist, it appreciates the court’s decision to create this expedited process.”
     Horne’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.

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