Town drops appeal of overhaul ordered in discrimination case

This is a photo of a woman with two children entering a store in Colorado City. The woman is dressed in the fashion of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or FLDS), a polygamist group. (Rcragun/WikimediaCommons)

This is a photo of a woman with two children entering a store in Colorado City. The woman is dressed in the fashion of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or FLDS), a polygamist group. (Rcragun/WikimediaCommons)

PHOENIX (AP) – One of two towns on the Arizona-Utah border that was found to have discriminated against people who weren't members of a polygamous sect has dropped its appeal of a court-ordered overhaul of its government operations.

A lawyer for the southern Utah town of Hildale said in a court filing two weeks ago that it was no longer appealing the overhaul that requires supervision of a top police official and training for officers about constitutional protections and other changes.

Neighboring Colorado City, Arizona, is pressing ahead with the appeal, telling the appeals court that a judge erred when he included events in his findings that occurred after an evidence-exchange period had ended.

The withdrawal by Hildale came after it experienced mass resignations when a new mayor took office and became the first woman and first non-member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to hold the seat.

The resignations resulted in a town council with no members of the church.

"We wanted to make a big show – something big that would show the state of Utah that we are serious and here to stay," Hildale Mayor Donia Jessop said about dropping out of the appeal. "We are not here to do anything wrong or hide anything."

Jessop said the decision was motivated in part by reasonable steps taken by U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland when he ordered the overhaul of government operations.

Jessop cited Holland's rejection of the federal government's request to disband the Colorado City Marshal's Office, the police department shared by the two towns. Instead, the judge required police procedures to be revised, an independent mentor to be appointed to advise the police chief and other changes.

The judge ordered the overhaul of government operations in both towns as a remedy for a 2016 jury verdict that concluded nonbelievers were denied police protection, building permits and water hookups on the basis of religion.

Jurors also concluded officers treated nonbelievers inequitably when providing police protection, arrested them without having probable cause and made unreasonable searches of their property.