OFFICIAL HILDALE CITY PRESS RELEASE
(Hildale, Utah) The Hildale City Council has decided to voluntarily dismiss its appeal in the case of United States v. Town of Colorado City eta/ ., currently pending at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case began in June 2012, when the U.S. Department of Justice sued Hildale City and the neighboring Town of Colorado City, alleging violations of various federal laws prohibiting religious discrimination. Following a jury trial spanning more than six weeks, Hildale and Colorado City were found in violation of two federal statutes with regard to policing and fair housing.
To protect against future discrimination, the judge presiding over the case ordered an injunction that required Hildale City to enact significant changes to its operations, ordinances, regulations, policies and procedures, as well as to subject itself to ongoing court oversight over a ten-year period.
Following this outcome, Hildale City decided together with Colorado City to appeal the district court’s judgment to the Ninth Circuit. In a joint brief, the municipalities argued that the judge had made significant factual and legal errors in ruling that they had engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing, and further that the judge had improperly allowed the jury to consider evidence of statements by the leadership of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints . The appeal is still in the briefing phase, and oral arguments have not yet been set.
In January of this year, Hildale City’s new Mayor, Donia Jessop, and three new Council members were sworn in, resulting in a historic shift of the City’s leadership . The shift appears to have been fueled in part by strong public discontent with previous municipal actions, and a perception that those actions led ultimately to the federal court’s finding against the City. After months of careful deliberation, the City Council came to the unanimous conclusion that continuing the appeal at the Ninth Circuit would not be in the City’s best interest. Implicit in this decision is the value that Hildale City should be looking to the future, not the past – placing the City’s focus on protecting the rights of all its citizens, regardless of religion or any other constitutionally protected status. Says Mayor Jessop, “This is an effort to help the community move forward, heal, and prosper, as well as establish trust with the citizens and our partners in the state and federal governments. The City of Hildale is making a stand for integrity.”
To carry this decision into effect, Hildale City will be working with the court, the Town of Colorado City, and the Department of Justice to work out appropriate terms of a dismissal. For its part, Colorado City is anticipated to continue pursuing its appeal of the judgment.
For questions, please contact the Hildale City Attorney, Christian Kesselring, at 435-874-2323 or christiank@hildalecity .com.