An Alaska judge will preside over the sweeping federal religious discrimination case filed against the polygamous sect-dominated towns of Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah.
U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland was chosen via a random draw from the ninth district, which contains both Alaska and Arizona, according to court records.
Holland presided over litigation following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, which dumped 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. More background here. The case was originally assigned to a magistrate judge, but then shifted up to a full federal judge.
FYI, It doesn't appear the case went to Holland because of any conflict of interest on the part of other Arizona federal judges, something that does happen in cases involving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints cases in southern Utah.
The government also has filed to have the Ron and Jinjer Cooke discrimination case joined with the larger discrimination case, arguing the cases are "substantially similar." Read the document here.