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ACLU of Utah Event to Highlight Voter Suppression

25 April 2012 Published in Newsroom
ACLU of Utah Event to Highlight Voter Suppression   MEDIA ADVISORY April 25, 2012 SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Next week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah will host its 2012 Bill of Rights Celebration, featuring special guest and keynote speaker Spencer Overton of George Washington University Law School. The event will take place on Wednesday, May 2, at the Rail Event Center (235 N. 500 W) in Salt Lake City, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. All proceeds will benefit the ACLU of Utah Foundation. The theme of this year’s Celebration is “Power of the People.” As keynote speaker, Mr. Overton will address several obstacles to participatory democracy in this election year, including all manner of voter suppression tactics and manipulations of the voting process. Mr. Overton is the author of STEALING DEMOCRACY: The New Politics of Voter Suppression, which has received renewed interested in light of the 2012 presidential election. Mr. Overton has been a nationally-prominent voting rights expert and advocate for several years; he served on the Jimmy Carter – James Baker Commission of Federal Election Refund, in the wake of the 2000 presidential election and subsequent Supreme Court decision, Bush v. Gore. “Since its inception,…

Utah High School Seniors Honored For Their Social Justice and Equality Activism

13 April 2012 Published in Newsroom
Utah High School Seniors Honored For Their Social Justice and Equality Activism   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 13, 2012 ACLU of Utah 2012 Youth Activist Scholarship Recipients Announced The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah has selected three high school seniors in Utah to receive the organization’s 2012 Youth Activist Scholarship. The recipients will each receive a $1,000 scholarship, in recognition of their commitment to civil liberties through activism. The winners will be honored at the ACLU of Utah’s 2012 Bill of Rights Celebration on May 2, 2012. Since 2007, the ACLU of Utah has recognized high school seniors across Utah for their work protecting and expanding civil liberties in their schools and communities. The students are selected based not only on their activism, but also their academic excellence, leadership and tenacity in overcoming personal hardship. The winners of the 2012 Youth Activist Scholarships include: a transgender student of color who has transformed his personal challenges into inspiration for others; a young Latino immigrant fighting for racial justice and immigrant rights; and a self-proclaimed music activist seeking equal treatment and protection for LGBTQ youth. Gabriel Glissmeyer is a student at Hillcrest High School in Midvale. As a student of color…

ACLU Of Utah Seeks To Enjoin Statute Regulating Internet Speech

12 April 2012 Published in Newsroom
ACLU Of Utah Seeks To Enjoin Statute Regulating Internet Speech   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 12, 2012 SALT LAKE CITY— Today, the ACLU of Utah as a plaintiff along with a coalition of booksellers, media companies, and artists, will argue a set of critical motions in the case of Florence v. Shurtleff, No. 05-CV-485 (United States District Court, District of Utah). In its motion, the ACLU of Utah seeks a ruling from the federal district court that a Utah statute restricting speech on the Internet is unconstitutional. Utah’s law seeks to regulate all Internet speech that may be considered “harmful to minors.” The law goes beyond constitutional limits, however, because it would result in restrictions on visual art, photography, graphic novels, and information about sexual health and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. For their part, the Utah Attorney General and the County Attorneys defending the law have made motions seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, or for a judgment that the law is constitutional. They contend that certain changes to the law since 2005 have solved the statute’s constitutional problems and that, in any event, plaintiffs have no standing to sue anymore. Since August 2006, a preliminary…

Court Asked To Stop State From Enforcing Utah Law Regulating Internet Speech

12 April 2012 Published in Newsroom
The ACLU of Utah as a plaintiff along with a coalition of booksellers, media companies, and artists, asked the federal district court to declare that a Utah statute restricting speech on the internet is unconstitutional. Utah’s law seeks to regulate all internet speech that may be considered “harmful to minors.” The law goes beyond constitutional limits, however, because it would result in restrictions on visual art, photography, graphic novels, and information about sexual health and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.

ACLU Of Utah Adds Federal Government to Suit Challenging Salt Lake County's Policy Of Indefinite Detention

26 March 2012 Published in Newsroom
ACLU Of Utah Adds Federal Government to Suit Challenging Salt Lake County's Policy Of Indefinite Detention   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 26, 2012 SALT LAKE CITY—Earlier today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah (“ACLU of Utah”) and cooperating attorney B. Kent Morgan of The Dyer Law Group filed an amended complaint in federal district court in the case of Uroza v. Salt Lake County, et al.. The amended complaint alleges that officials and agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, share responsibility for causing the unconstitutional and prolonged imprisonment of Enrique Uroza. The amended complaint also adds the United States as a defendant, alleging that its agents caused Mr. Uroza to be unlawfully imprisoned. On June 13, 2011, Mr. Uroza, then a 22-year old Weber State University sophomore, appeared in Utah State Court to face criminal charges (which have since been dropped or resolved). That same day, the state court set bail, which Mr. Uroza posted almost immediately. Ignoring the bail, jail officials continued to hold Mr. Uroza. The next day, Tuesday June 14, ICE requested that the jail continue to hold Mr. Uroza for no more than 48 hours. Nonetheless,…

ACLU of Utah Adds Federal Government to Suit Challenging Salt Lake County's Policy Of Indefinite Detention

26 March 2012 Published in Newsroom
Earlier today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah (“ACLU of Utah”) and cooperating attorney B. Kent Morgan of The Dyer Law Group filed an amended complaint in federal district court in the case of Uroza v. Salt Lake County, et al.. The amended complaint alleges that officials and agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, share responsibility for causing the unconstitutional and prolonged imprisonment of Enrique Uroza. The amended complaint also adds the United States as a defendant, alleging that its agents caused Mr. Uroza to be unlawfully imprisoned.

John Mejia Joins ACLU of Utah as New Legal Director

21 February 2012 Published in Newsroom
John Mejia Joins ACLU of Utah as New Legal Director   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 21, 2012 The ACLU of Utah is pleased to announce the hiring of John Mejia as our new Legal Director, as we bid a fond farewell to our Interim Legal Director, Joe Cohn. John has been training and getting up to speed with Joe’s able assistance. John begins as full time Legal Director today. “We are thrilled to welcome John to the ACLU of Utah as Legal Director,” said Karen McCreary, Executive Director of the ACLU of Utah. “Because he grew up here, John knows and cares about Utah, and his educational and professional background will make him a great fit to lead our growing legal program.” “I am excited to serve as Legal Director of the ACLU of Utah,” John said. “Throughout my career, public service has been of utmost importance to me, so this is my dream job. I have always believed that the ACLU and the ACLU of Utah serve a vital function of protecting the civil rights of everyone, from the most powerful to the least among us. I look forward to being able to work to advance civil rights here…

National Immigration Law Center, ACLU, and ACLU of Utah in Court Friday to Challenge Utah's “Papers Please” Law

15 February 2012 Published in Newsroom
National Immigration Law Center, ACLU, and ACLU of Utah in Court Friday to Challenge Utah's "Papers Please" Law   Read the Press Release (PDF) >>

Duchesne County Attorney Should Independently Investigate Use of Excessive Force Against Haka Dancers, Says ACLU

05 December 2011 Published in Newsroom
Duchesne County Attorney Should Independently Investigate Use of Excessive Force Against Haka Dancers, Says ACLU   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 5, 2011 Salt Lake City - The ACLU of Utah (“the ACLU”) called upon the Duchesne County Attorney to conduct an independent investigation into a recent claim of excessive force by the Roosevelt Police Department (RPD). This claim arose from an interaction between the RPD and a group of football fans, who were performing a Polynesian victory dance known as the “Haka,” in the stands during an October 20 game between Roosevelt and Uintah High Schools. On November 2, the Roosevelt Police Department completed an investigation into the incident, which completely absolved the officers involved in the October 20 situation of any wrongdoing. “The Roosevelt Police Department’s report is troubling in a number of respects,” said Joe Cohn, Interim Legal Director of the ACLU of Utah. “Most importantly, it completely ignores the many accounts and statements provided by witnesses and victims, as well as the video recording of the incident, as if these pieces of evidence were not provided at all. In fact, the report relies almost exclusively on the accounts of the two officers involved, which must be considered…

ACLU Of Utah Responds To Use Of Pepper Spray And Batons To Break Up Haka Dancers At Roosevelt High School Football Game

05 December 2011 Published in Newsroom
The ACLU of Utah (“the ACLU”) called upon the Duchesne County Attorney to conduct an independent investigation into a recent claim of excessive force by the Roosevelt Police Department (RPD). This claim arose from an interaction between the RPD and a group of football fans, who were performing a Polynesian victory dance known as the “Haka,” in the stands during an October 20 game between Roosevelt and Uintah High Schools. On November 2, the Roosevelt Police Department completed an investigation into the incident, which completely absolved the officers involved in the October 20 situation of any wrongdoing. “The Roosevelt Police Department’s report is troubling in a number of respects,” said Joe Cohn, Interim Legal Director of the ACLU of Utah. “Most importantly, it completely ignores the many accounts and statements provided by witnesses and victims, as well as the video recording of the incident, as if these pieces of evidence were not provided at all. In fact, the report relies almost exclusively on the accounts of the two officers involved, which must be considered necessarily self-serving, despite the existence of competing evidence.” According to the report, the officers claimed that they were compelled to use force because the fans who…

Utah’s “Show Me Your Papers” Law Hearing Postponed; U.S. Department of Justice May Intervene

13 September 2011 Published in Newsroom
Utah’s “Show Me Your Papers” Law Hearing Postponed; U.S. Department of Justice May Intervene   Court’s Temporary Restraining Order Blocking Utah’s Anti-Immigrant Law Will Remain In Effect FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 13, 2011 SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The federal district court today granted a request by the Utah Attorney General’s Office to delay a hearing regarding the state’s anti-immigrant law. Utah requested the delay because of possible future involvement by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the lawsuit. DOJ has not filed a lawsuit against Utah’s law, but has done so with similar anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama. The hearing on Utah’s law, HB 497, was originally set for Friday but has been rescheduled for Nov. 18. Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “It’s welcome news that the United States is taking a hard look at Utah’s ‘show me your papers’ law and we hope the federal government will bring suit here, as it has in Arizona and Alabama. Extremist measures that trample on our basic civil liberties have no place in America.” Karen McCreary, executive director of the ACLU of Utah, said: “We have received calls of support from…

ACLU of Utah Issues Report Detailing Chronic Underfunding, Other Systemic Failures in Public Defender Services

24 August 2011 Published in Newsroom
For Immediate Release August 24, 2011 SALT LAKE CITY—The State of Utah fails to protect the constitutional rights of people accused of crimes who cannot afford their own lawyers, according to a report issued today by the ACLU of Utah. The comprehensive 95-page report, “Failing Gideon: Utah’s Flawed County-By-County Public Defender System,” documents the state’s and counties’ chronic failures to fund or oversee trial-level public defender services in Utah. “In what is essentially an unfunded mandate, the State of Utah has delegated to its various counties and cities the full financial and administrative cost of providing constitutionally adequate public defender services to impoverished Utahns who are accused of crime,” said ACLU of Utah Executive Director Karen McCreary. “The result is a patchwork of underfunded, under-resourced, and under-managed county systems that systematically deprive accused defendants of their right to an attorney.” The United States Supreme Count recognized the constitutional right to counsel in Gideon v. Wainright (1963). In Gideon, the Court held that whenever a person is accused of a state crime for which jail time might be imposed and that person cannot afford an attorney, the state is obligated to appoint and pay for an attorney who can provide an…

ACLU of Utah Sues Salt Lake County and Sheriff Winder Over Unlawful Detention of College Student

05 August 2011 Published in Newsroom
Earlier today, the ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorney B. Kent Morgan of The Dyer Law Group filed a complaint in federal district court alleging that Salt Lake County Sheriff James Winder and his officers unjustifiably and illegally imprisoned 22-year-old Enrique Uroza at the Salt Lake County Metro Jail (Metro) for 39 days after Mr. Uroza had posted court-ordered bail.

ACLU Seeks Details on Government Mobile Phone Tracking in Massive Nationwide Information Request

03 August 2011 Published in Newsroom
In a massive coordinated information-seeking campaign, 34 American Civil Liberties Union affiliates across the nation today are sending 379 requests to local law enforcement agencies large and small demanding to know when, why and how they are using cellphone location data to track Americans. The requests, being filed under the states' freedom of information laws, are an effort to strip away the secrecy that has surrounded law enforcement use of cellphone tracking capabilities.

ACLU of Utah Seeks Details on Government Cell Phone Tracking

03 August 2011 Published in Newsroom
ACLU of Utah Seeks Details on Government Cell Phone Tracking Today the ACLU of Utah sent GRAMA requests to six Utah law enforcement agencies seeking information showing when, why, and how law enforcement is using cell phone location data to track Americans. The ACLU of Utah’s requests are part of a massive effort by 34 ACLU affiliates nationwide to collect information from more than 379 state and local law enforcement agencies in an effort to strip away the secrecy that has surrounded law enforcement’s use of cell phone tracking capabilities. “The ability to access cell phone location data is an incredibly powerful tool and its use is shrouded in secrecy. The public has a right to know how and under what circumstances their location information is being accessed by the government,” said Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “A detailed history of someone's movements is extremely personal and is the kind of information the Constitution protects.” ACLU of Utah Executive Director Karen McCreary added, “The Fourth Amendment requires that law enforcement demonstrate probable cause and obtain a warrant before accessing private information about an individual. Utahns have a right to know if, how, and…

ACLU of Utah Looks For Local Youth Activists

11 July 2011 Published in Newsroom
ACLU of Utah Looks For Local Youth Activists   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 7, 2011   SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - In its fifth year, the ACLU of Utah’s Youth Activist Scholarship seeks to recognize Utah high school seniors passionate about civil liberties – and who have taken a stand in their communities to show it! ”We are getting more and more applications each year, from amazing young people who really care about protecting and promoting individual freedom,” says Anna Brower, Development Director at the ACLU of Utah. “No matter how challenging our work at the ACLU gets, we always get a boost of inspiration from students who are fighting along with us in their schools and neighborhoods!” Each year since 2008, the program has awarded $1000 scholarships to three truly passionate young people who care about preserving civil liberties, and who have taken action to do just that. Past scholarship recipients have positively impacted their communities by advocating for women at the United Nations, standing up for LGBT peers by starting Gay-Straight Alliances, lobbying their elected officials for the protection of immigrants’ rights, and championing free speech and a free press. Cara Cerise (Highland High School, Salt Lake City)…

Booksellers, Artists, ACLU Seek to Bar Utah Law Restricting Speech on Internet

08 June 2011 Published in Newsroom
Florence v. Shurtleff (2011) On June 8, 2011, the ACLU of Utah along with a coalition of booksellers, media companies, and artists asked the federal district court in Salt Lake City to issue a permanent injunction, barring enforcement of a Utah statute that restricts constitutionally-protected speech on the Internet. Utah’s law seeks to regulate all Internet speech that may be considered “harmful to minors.” This law, however, is too sweeping in its scope, as it would result in restrictions on visual art, photography, graphic novels, and information about sexual health and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. In August 2006, the district court entered a stipulated preliminary injunction, which blocked the enforcement of the challenged sections of the statute.

Court Blocks Implementation Of Utah “Show Me Your Papers” Law

10 May 2011 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. SALT LAKE CITY - Ensuring that Utah law enforcement will not be required to demand "papers" from all people residing in or traveling through Utah, a federal district court in Salt Lake City today blocked implementation of the state’s “show me your papers” law, scheduled to go into effect today. The law, passed earlier this year, authorizes police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops, invites racial profiling of Latinos and others who appear “foreign” to an officer and interferes with federal law. Today’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Utah and National Immigration Law Center challenging the Utah law. The following can be attributed to Darcy Goddard, Legal Director, ACLU of Utah: “We are pleased the court has ordered that the law cannot take effect until the court has ample time to review the case in full. We anticipate proving to the court that this discriminatory law threatens the rights of all people in Utah. Like Arizona's SB 1070, the Utah law violates the Constitution and is even worse in requiring all Utahns to carry their 'papers' at all times…

ACLU And NILC File Lawsuit Challenging Utah “Show Me Your Papers” Law

03 May 2011 Published in Newsroom
Law Would Turn Utah Into Police State And Invite Racial Profiling, Groups Say – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Utah, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olsen filed a class action lawsuit today charging that Utah’s recently passed law, HB 497, like Arizona’s notorious SB 1070, authorizes police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops, invites racial profiling of Latinos and others who appear “foreign” to an officer and interferes with federal law. "America is not a 'show me your papers' country. No one should be subject to investigation, detention and arrest without any suspicion of criminal activity,” said Cecillia Wang, managing attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. “Utah’s law violates the Constitution and we are confident that we will prevent it from taking effect.” The lawsuit charges that the Utah law is unconstitutional in that it unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; authorizes and requires unreasonable seizures and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment; restricts the constitutional right to travel freely throughout the United States; violates the Equal…