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Trial looking at discrimination in polygamous Utah and Arizona towns continues

First Published      Last Updated Feb 25 2014 11:14 am

The Cooke lawsuit continued Tuesday morning with testimony from Seth Cooke, Ronald Cooke's brother. Seth's comments ranged from building permits to non-FLDS persecution in the largely polygamous Short Creek community, but his most relevant remarks had to do with water hookups — the lack of which prompted Ron and his wife Jinjer to sue.

During Seth's testimony, the Cooke's attorney William Walker presented him with a series of letters and forms signed by various Colorado City officials. The documents dated back to 2008 and, as Walker pointed out, none of them mentioned any water shortage.

City officials denied the Cookes water based on an alleged shortage. Attorneys for Colorado City, Ariz., and neighboring Hildale, Utah — which collectively make up Short Creek — also have argued that the Cookes failed to comply with city policy.

Walker's questioning was designed to show that the policy regarding the water shortage was fabricated and artificial. He and the Cookes believe they were discriminated against because they are not members of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

During cross examination city attorneys pointed out that the Cookes weren't alone in their struggles; instead, city officials themselves had things like building permits denied, among other things.

Attorneys Tuesday also played a lengthy recording of a conversation between Seth Cooke and Helaman Barlow, the head of the local police force. During the recording, Barlow said that his job was to enforce the law and if his personal beliefs conflicted with that duty he "should get another job." The comment is significant because attorneys for the Cookes also have argued that the local police force is controlled by FLDS leaders.

—Jim Dalrymple II

Twitter: @jimmycdii