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U.S. says discrimination case should stay in Arizona

Published October 9, 2012 5:50 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

U.S. attorneys who filed a civil rights lawsuit against two polygamous towns are resisting a defense push to move the case to Utah.

The suit names both Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, but it was filed in Phoenix.

The twin border towns want to move the lawsuit to Utah, contending it would be significantly more convenient for them and their clients — Phoenix is almost 400 miles away from the border communities, compared to 45 miles to St. George. Defense attorneys are asking a federal judge to hold a hearing on the issue.

The feds say the towns haven't met the high burden needed to move the case. If Phoenix, where the lawsuit was filed, is too far, they proposed moving the case to Flagstaff or Page. They don't mention the recent rulings in the United Effort Plan trust case and the Sister Wives case that indicate a Utah federal court might be more receptive to arguments from a polygamous sect.

The towns countered that the courthouse in Flagstaff is still more than four hours away by car, and Page has a skeleton operation not prepared to host a case like this.

That's according to the latest motions filed in the case (read the government's motion here and the towns' here).

By the way, St. George, where they want to move, is the same city where the sect's imprisoned leader, Warren Jeffs, first went to trial back in '07 and is about an hour from Hildale/Colorado City.

The lawsuit, filed in June, alleges a widespread pattern of discrimination stretching back at least 10 years by members of the sect, who are loyal to Jeffs. Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints members make up the police, fire and city governments in both of the border towns.

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