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Discrimination case against polygamous towns won't move to Utah

Published December 11, 2012 7:29 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

A U.S. Department of Justice discrimination case filed against twin towns dominated by followers of Warren Jeffs won't move to Utah, a judge ruled Monday.

Government attorneys would likely have a more difficult time that the defense in getting witnesses to court, according to U.S. District Judge Russel Holland, who decided an Arizona venue will put the government in "a better position to require the attendance of witnesses."

Most witnesses for Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., will likely be on the towns' payrolls, and should be able to get to court whether the case is in Arizona or Utah, Holland ruled.

Federal attorneys filed the case in June, accusing officials in the two towns — which share public safety services and function as one community — of discriminating against those who aren't members of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and following Jeffs' edicts over the law.

Defense attorneys for the two towns moved for a change of venue in September, arguing a Utah court would be hundreds of miles closer than the Arizona venue. While conceding the Utah town of St. George is much closer than the venue in Prescott, Ariz., Holland ruled the difference in travel costs will "surely border upon the insignificant," in comparison to the overall cost of the case.