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Case Name United States v. Town of Colorado City PN-AZ-0004
Docket / Court 3:12-cv-08123-HRH ( D. Ariz. )
State/Territory Arizona
Case Type(s) Policing
Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On June 21, 2012, the United States Department of Justice filed this action against the town of Colorado City, Arizona, the city of Hildale, Utah, and utilities serving them. The lawsuit was filed under the Fair Housing Act Amendments (42 U.S.C. § 3601); Title III of the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C ... read more >
On June 21, 2012, the United States Department of Justice filed this action against the town of Colorado City, Arizona, the city of Hildale, Utah, and utilities serving them. The lawsuit was filed under the Fair Housing Act Amendments (42 U.S.C. § 3601); Title III of the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000b); and 42 U.S.C. § 14141. The DOJ sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the municipalities had unconstitutionally established a religion, and denied equal protection of the laws and use of public facilities on the basis of religion. Specifically, the DOJ alleged that the municipalities had become arms of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ("FLDS") and had failed their duty to provide policing, housing, and utilities to non-members and former members of the FLDS. This was the DOJ's first lawsuit to include claims under both the Fair Housing Act and Section 14141, the federal statute that allows the Attorney General to address patterns or practices of police misconduct.

A religious and charitable trust called the United Effort Plan Trust (UEP Trust) owned much of the land in Colorado City and in Hildale, and was controlled until 2005 by the FLDS. Because a Utah court determined that the UEP Trust had violated its legal duties to the beneficiaries of the trust, the FLDS was removed as trustee, and a Special Fiduciary, not affiliated with the FLDS, was appointed in 2005.

The Special Fiduciary's repeated attempts to administer the trust for the benefit of non-FLDS and FLDS members were rebuffed by the Marshall's Office of the two municipalities. The legal rulings relating to property agreements had been ignored, and the Marshall's office began occupying UEP Trust land.

The DOJ alleged that the Marshall's Office refused to arrest FLDS members accused of assaulting or committing crimes against non-FLDS members, and also that the office arrested non-FLDS members without cause. The Marshall's Office was also accused of assisting in illegal evictions of non-FLDS members from UEP Trust-owned property, and of taking non-FLDS members' property without cause.

The municipal utilities were also implicated in the lawsuit. The DOJ alleged that water and electric service had been outright denied or unreasonably delayed to non-FLDS members. Some residents had been waiting on water or electric service since 2009.

Lastly, the municipalities were accused of denying non-FLDS members access to public parks and the city zoo. The Marshall's Office was accused of threatening non-FLDS members with arrest if they played in or otherwise used the park or zoo.

Three weeks after filing the complaint, the DOJ moved to transfer the matter to Judge James A. Teilbog, suggesting that the case was related to Cooke v. Colorado City, 3:10-cv-8105-PCT-JAT, which was pending before Judge Teilbog. Judge Teilbog denied the motion, which was filed in Cooke, because the DOJ's case might include factual and legal issues distinct from Cooke and because the cases were in different stages of litigation.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss in August 2012, which the Court (Judge H. Russel Holland) denied on November 29, 2012, finding that the U.S. stated a plausible cause of action for its first two claims and dismissing its third, with leave to amend. 2012 WL 12842256.

On December 10, 2012, the court denied the defendants' motion for an order changing venue from the District of Arizona to the District of Utah. Considering the availability of witnesses, the burdens on the witnesses and the parties, the interest of justice, and the plaintiffs' preference for remaining in the District of Arizona, the court held that a transfer of venue was not appropriate. 2012 WL 12929901.

In March 2013, the defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings, contending the statute of limitations precluded the DOJ's Fair Housing Act claim. The court denied the motion on June 6, 2013, holding that the statutory period did not begin until a plaintiff had reasonable cause to believe the defendants had engaged in a practice of housing discrimination--the timing of that clock-starting point had yet to be determined.

The parties then engaged in extensive and contentious discovery. The court issued many rulings from 2013 to 2015 regarding evidence, including sanctions against the defendants for spoliation of evidence on July 28, 2014. 2014 WL 3724232 (D. Ariz. July 28, 2014).

In late 2014, the defendants moved for summary judgment regarding damages and the DOJ moved for partial summary judgment. On June 17, 2015, Judge Holland denied the DOJ's motion for partial summary judgment and granted in part the defendants' motion for summary judgment; he held that the DOJ was precluded from requesting FHA damages from any defendant on behalf of the aggrieved persons, should the DOJ prevail on its FHA claims in Count II. The court also dismissed the DOJ's claims against the power company. The defendants' motions were otherwise denied.

The case proceeded to trial before a jury, which lasted for 25 days in January-March 2016. On March 7, 2016, the jury returned a verdict finding that the towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, and their joint water company systematically discriminated against individuals who were 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 DOJ's claims under Section 14141 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Because this statute (in contrast to the Fair Housing Act) did not include a right to a jury trial, the jury’s verdict as to the Section 14141 claim was advisory and could be considered by the court, but was not binding. In its advisory verdict, the jury found that the Colorado City Marshal’s Office (CCMO), 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 14th Amendment and the establishment clause; and subjected individuals to unlawful stops, seizures and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Because these advisory findings were not binding, the 14141 claim remained under consideration by the district court, who would issue a ruling on whether the defendants engaged in these constitutional violations, and if so, what relief was appropriate. The court scheduled a non-jury evidentiary hearing for October 24, 2016, regarding the 14141 claim.

On April 18, 2016, the parties filed a settlement agreement that defendants would pay $1.6 million to resolve the monetary claim under the Fair Housing Act. The settlement agreement memorialized the settlement terms reached by the parties and presented to and approved by the court on March 7, 2016. The court issued an order officially approving the settlement agreement on April 19, 2016.

An evidentiary hearing was held on October 24 through 27, 2016, addressing the U.S.'s request for injunctive relief based on the Fair Housing Act violations and the jury's advisory findings with respect to policing. After receiving comments under seal from the parties about simplifying and facilitating implementation of injunctive relief, Judge Holland issued a Judgment and Decree Granting Injunctive Relief on April 18, 2017. The Court permanently enjoined the defendants from engaging in any conduct violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Regarding policing practices, the Court required that the defendants do the following: hire a professional consultant in the field of policing; develop new policies and procedures for hiring new officers; conduct a wide-ranging search for candidates to fill two police officer positions (to be filled within six months); implement new policies and procedures for internal affairs investigations; conduct a comprehensive review of all CCMO policies and procedures; purchase body cameras for CCMO officers and implement a pilot program for their use; provide annual training to officers on the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, state and federal Fair Housing Acts, landlord/tenant law, and trespass law; and hire a Mentor for the Chief Marshal.

Regarding fair housing practices, the Court enjoined defendants from violating the Fair Housing Act. Specifically, the injunction prohibited the defendants from making housing unavailable or denying housing opportunities to individuals because of their religion; discriminating in the terms, conditions, or privileges of housing rentals or sales; or coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a person in the exercise or enjoyment of a right granted by the Fair Housing Act.

Additionally, the Court called for the renewed discussions between the UEP Trust and Colorado City regarding approval of a subdivision plat; development of objective, uniform, and non-discriminatory policies and procedures to govern the operation of the defendants' building departments; amendments to the defendants' water services regulations; review of the defendants' culinary water impact fee; the development of publicly available internet websites for each municipality; in-person training on the requirements of this injunction and the policies, procedures, and regulations adopted in accordance with it; and the appointment of one or more monitors, who will review municipal decisions by the defendants implicating the Fair Housing Act, oversee implementation of all aspects and terms of the injunction, and issue written reports every 90 days. The injunctive relief was to remain in effect for ten years or until otherwise ordered by the Court.

On August 1, 2017, Judge Holland issued an order amending the decree granting injunctive relief with respect to training. The Court ordered that the Fair Housing Act training will be completed by August 16, 2017 by the Southwest Fair Housing Council. The Court further ordered that constitutional training was to be completed by September 15, 2017 (with was extended to September 25), and that training on policies and procedures was to be completed within 30 days after the last policy, procedure, regulation, or ordinance was adopted or amended.

On July 19, 2017, the defendants appealed the District Court's grant of a permanent injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On June 7, 2018, the City of Hilldale withdrew its appeal. Oral argument for the remaining defendants is scheduled for April 18, 2019.

Monitor reports from 2018 indicated that there were no outstanding Fair Housing injunction requirements. Additionally, the police consultant's reports noted staffing changes in the marshal's office and progress in relationships between the marshal's office and other law enforcement agencies.

Monitors continue to submit reports as enforcement of the injunction continues.

Blase Kearney - 07/31/2012
David Postel - 02/07/2014
Jessica Kincaid - 04/22/2016
Eva Richardson - 03/12/2019
Averyn Lee


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Housing Sales/Rental
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Excessive force
False arrest
Housing
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
Defendant(s) Town of Colorado City
Plaintiff Description The United States
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2017 - 2027
Filing Year 2012
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Justice Department Wins Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah
Date: Mar. 7, 2016
(U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program Faculty)
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:12−cv−08123 (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/07/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against the Twin Cities of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, and Local Utility Companies Alleging Religious Discrimination
PN-AZ-0004-0009.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/21/2012
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-AZ-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/21/2012
Order (Denying U.S. Motion to Transfer Related Case) [ECF# 35] (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/16/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss) [ECF# 106] (2013 WL 11826544) (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/06/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (2014 WL 3724232) (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/28/2014
Source: Bloomberg Law
Joint Status Report Concerning Altered Police Reports [ECF# 556]
PN-AZ-0004-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/05/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Joint Status Report Concerning Altered Police Reports [ECF# 577]
PN-AZ-0004-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Joint Status Report Concerning Altered Police Reports [ECF# 607]
PN-AZ-0004-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/20/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (2015 WL 3774315) (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/17/2015
Source: Bloomberg Law
Order [ECF# 891] (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/12/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verdict (Redacted) [ECF# 932] (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 937-1]
PN-AZ-0004-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/18/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order - Approval of Settlement Agreement [ECF# 938] (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/19/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment and Decree Granting Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1053] (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/18/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Required Training [ECF# 1089] (D. Ariz.)
PN-AZ-0004-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor's Report for November 2017 [ECF# 1147]
PN-AZ-0004-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/01/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor's Report on Police Consultant [ECF# 1153]
PN-AZ-0004-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/05/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor's Report on Involved Cities [ECF# 1151]
PN-AZ-0004-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/12/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor's Report by Police Consultant [ECF# 1154]
PN-AZ-0004-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Monitor's Status Report [ECF# 1158-2]
PN-AZ-0004-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
May Monitoring Report for Involved Cities [ECF# 1158-1]
PN-AZ-0004-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Holland, Hezekiah Russel (D. Alaska) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0003 | PN-AZ-0004-0004 | PN-AZ-0004-0005 | PN-AZ-0004-0006 | PN-AZ-0004-0008 | PN-AZ-0004-0013 | PN-AZ-0004-0014 | PN-AZ-0004-0015 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Teilborg, James A. (D. Ariz.) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0002
Monitors/Masters Carter, Roger (Utah) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0016 | PN-AZ-0004-0021
Keith, Jim (Utah) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0018 | PN-AZ-0004-0019 | PN-AZ-0004-0020
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brett, Sharon (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Clarke, Jessica (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Crockett, Jessica Clarke (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Donnelly, Matthew J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Gzifa, Anika (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Hagler, Tamar (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0001 | PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0001 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Keveney, Sean R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Lopez, Christy (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0001 | PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Majeed, Sameena Shina (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0001 | PN-AZ-0004-0009 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Porter, Forestine Nicole (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0001 | PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Ryals, Stephen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Sacks, Noah David (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Savner, Emily (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0001 | PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Towt, Katharine Farrell (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Treene, Eric W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Wagner, Lori K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Abke, Kathleen Josephine (Utah) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
England, Melissa Jane (Arizona) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Gregson, Ashley M. (Utah) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Hamilton, R. Blake (Utah) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Hansen, J. Michael (Utah) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Matura, Jeffrey Charles (Arizona) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0007 | PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Sebastian, Asha (Arizona) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-0010 | PN-AZ-0004-0011 | PN-AZ-0004-0012 | PN-AZ-0004-9001
Stirba, Peter (Utah) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Other Lawyers Bonewell, Rick D. (Utah) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Keenan, Jefferson Lee (Arizona) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Piccarreta, Michael L (Arizona) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001
Walker, William G (Arizona) show/hide docs
PN-AZ-0004-9001

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