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Those were the motivations for the actions, and inactions, of two marshals from the polygamist community on the Utah-Arizona border who are facing misconduct charges, said their attorney at at hearing here Tuesday.

Fred J. Barlow, the chief marshal of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., observed a religious tradition when he sent a letter to then-fugitive Warren Jeffs, Barlow's attorney argued, while the other accused marshal, Preston L. Barlow, refused to answer questions because he was concerned for his own freedoms.

“They can wear both hats successfully,” Bruce Griffen, the attorney for the two marshals, said in his opening statement. “They can have their deep-seated religious beliefs and do their job effectively.”

The marshals are the police force in Hildale and Colorado City. The twin communities are home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and some members practice polygamy. Jeffs is considered president and prophet of the church.

Fred Barlow has three allegations against him. One allegation deals with a letter Fred Barlow sent Jeffs while he was a fugitive. The letter pledged allegiance to Jeffs and asked for direction on running the marshals. The other two allegations accuse Fred Barlow of not answering questions during a deposition and for an Arizona attorney general investigator inquiring about Jeffs' whereabouts.

Preston Barlow also is accused of failing to answer the investigator's questions, which is the lone allegation against him.

If the administrative law judge conducting the hearing upholds the allegations, the Barlows, who are cousins, could have their certification as Arizona peace officers suspended or revoked. As the hearing's first witness, Fred Barlow said Jeffs wants the marshals' office run “according to the laws of the land.” That includes state law, Barlow said.

Fred Barlow and Griffen said the October 2005 letter to Jeffs was a “letter of accountability,” an FLDS tradition where a member affirms his allegiance to the prophet and seeks spiritual guidance to help him perform his duties. But Fred Barlow replied with a “no” when asked if Jeffs had the right to dictate how the department is run. Griffen said in his opening argument that the Barlows refusal to answer questions were due in large part to lack of information about the interview agendas and confusion about what was occurring. Fred Barlow was new to the chief marshal position while Preston Barlow had been a certified peace officer for three weeks when he spoke to the attorney general investigator.

Griffen said questions about their religious beliefs made the marshals uncomfortable and confused them as to the purpose of the questioning.

While questioning an Arizona police regulator, Griffen inquired about a May 1, 2006, memorandum from the Arizona attorney general's office. The memo said there was a criminal inquiry into the marshals over their refusal to investigate the theft of property from the trust once controlled by the FLDS. No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

In his questioning, Griffen suggested the marshals refused to cooperate with the attorney general investigator because they were concerned about their First Amendment rights to religious freedom and Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination The marshals' hearing is expected to conclude today. The judge is not expected to rule immediately.

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