United States v. Town of Colorado City (D. Ariz.)

Overview: 

On April 18, 2017, the court in United States v. Town of Colorado City (D. Ariz.) issued an order adopting the jury’s findings that the Town of Colorado City and the City of Hildale engaged in a decades-long pattern or practice of police misconduct and housing discrimination. The court ordered expansive relief, including requiring the defendants to revise the policies of the Marshal’s Office, adopt new internal affairs and hiring practices, hire two new officers, hire both a police-practices consultant and a mentor for the Chief of Police, conduct training on civil rights laws, revise numerous municipal policies and procedures, and subdivide the land in Colorado City. The court will appoint a monitor to track compliance and report to the Department of Justice and the court. On April 19, 2016, the court entered a settlement agreement which resolved the monetary aspects of the United States’ claim under the Fair Housing Act and provides for $1,435,000 in damages to nine aggrieved persons and $165,000 in civil penalties. On March 7, 2016, a federal jury in Phoenix returned a verdict finding that the towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, and their joint water company systematically discriminated on the basis of religion against individuals who are not members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) in the provision of housing, utility and policing services in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The jury also issued an advisory verdict on the Department of Justice’s claims under Section 14141 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.  Because this statute (in contrast to the Fair Housing Act) does not include a right to a jury trial, the jury’s verdict as to the Section 14141 claim is advisory and may be considered by the court, but is not binding.  In its advisory verdict, the jury found that the Colorado City Marshal’s Office, the cities’ joint police department, operated as an arm of the FLDS church in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment; engaged in discriminatory policing in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the establishment clause; and subjected individuals to unlawful stops, seizures and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The complaint, which was filed on June 21, 2012, alleged a pattern or practice of police misconduct and violations of federal civil rights laws, including allegations control have allowed the FLDS Church to improperly influence the provision of policing services, utility that the cities, their joint police department, and local utility providers under the cities' services and access to housing and public facilities, and that this improper influence has led to discriminatory treatment against non-FLDS residents. The adjoining towns of Colorado City and Hildale are located on the border of Arizona and Utah and are populated primarily by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS Church). The FLDS Church is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The complaint alleged discrimination based on religion in violation of the Fair Housing Act, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is the first lawsuit by the Justice Department to include claims under both the Fair Housing Act and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.

press release (3/17/17)

press release (4/19/17)

Case Open Date: 
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Case Name: 
United States v. Town of Colorado City (D. Ariz.)
Topic: 
Civil Rights
Tags: 
Hildale Arizona
Twin City Power
Twin City Water Authority
Colorado City Marshal’s Office
Fair Housing Act
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
Fourteenth Amendment
Fourth Amendment
Section 14141
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968
equal protection
establishment clause
religion
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
FLDS Church
pattern or practice
3:12-cv-08123-HRH
Industry Code: 
None
Component: 
Civil Rights - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights - Special Litigation Section
Updated April 21, 2017