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ACLU of Utah Reaches Out To Davis School District To Discuss Constitutional Requirements

12 June 2012 Published in Newsroom
ACLU of Utah Reaches Out To Davis School District To Discuss Constitutional Requirements   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 12, 2012 SALT LAKE CITY— Today the ACLU of Utah sent a letter to Superintendent Bryan Bowles of the Davis School District to request a meeting to discuss the constitutional implications of the district’s recent removal of the book “Our Mothers’ House,” by Patricia Polacco, from the shelves of a school in the district. “Federal courts have consistently concluded that the First Amendment protects student access to books in their school libraries, free from limits based on the administration’s disagreement with the viewpoints expressed in the books,” said John Mejia, Legal Director of the ACLU of Utah. “From what we know of the district’s removal of the book, we have serious concerns that the district may have fallen short of these protections.” In the letter, the ACLU of Utah pointed to several cases in which courts have ruled that the First Amendment prevents schools from limiting student access to library materials containing portrayals of LGBTQ people and noted that this situation is factually similar to those cases. The letter further casts doubt on whether the removal of the book is justified by…

ACLU Of Utah Seeks Information On Utah Police Agencies' License Plate Data Collection

25 May 2012 Published in Newsroom
ACLU Of Utah Seeks Information On Utah Police Agencies' License Plate Data Collection   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 25, 2012 SALT LAKE CITY— Today, on the eve of one of the busiest driving weekends of the year, the ACLU of Utah sent GRAMA requests to the Utah Highway Patrol, the Ogden City Police Department, and the Iron County Sheriff's Office seeking information about their use of automated license plate recognition ("ALPR") technology. During this year's interim session of the Utah Legislature, the Beaver County Sheriff sought authorization for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to use ALPR technology on certain parts of I-15. According to the sheriff, the DEA intends to capture and record the license plate of every vehicle passing along those stretches of I-15 and to store that information for two years. At the hearing on this request, it was revealed that the UHP, Ogden, and Iron County appear to already be using ALPR technology. Using such technology raises concerns about how captured license plate information is being used, protected and stored. Past experience shows that the purposes for which police use data tend to expand over time, and many such uses raise significant threats to our privacy. “We…

Utah Federal Court Protects Free Speech By Restricting Internet Law

17 May 2012 Published in Newsroom
Utah Federal Court Protects Free Speech By Restricting Internet Law FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 18, 2012 SALT LAKE CITY — People cannot be prosecuted for posting content constitutionally protected for adults on generally-accessible websites, and are not required by law to label such content that they do post, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson held yesterday. Judge Benson’s order was issued in a lawsuit challenging a Utah law that threatened the free speech rights of online content providers and Internet users. Plaintiffs included a Utah artist; trade associations representing booksellers, publishers, graphic and comic books, and librarians; and the ACLU of Utah.

ACLU “Mobile Rights Team” Cross-Country Tour Stops at the Latino Mall in West Valley City

07 May 2012 Published in Newsroom
ACLU “Mobile Rights Team” cross-country tour stops at the Latino Mall in West Valley City   PRESS ADVISORY May 7, 2012 When: May 12, 2012, 3:00 – 5:00 PM Where: Latino Mall, 2470 South Redwood Road, West Valley City, UT 84119 What: “Estamos Unidos” (We Are United) is a national campaign headed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against anti-immigrant laws and federal programs that involve local police and sheriffs in immigration law enforcement. We come together to protest discrimination and defend our rights even as the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing arguments on Arizona’s discriminatory, anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. The Court heard arguments on April 25, and its decision, expected by June 2012, will have an impact on laws in states like Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and Indiana. The ACLU Mobile Rights Team tour launched “Estamos Unidos” on Saturday April 21 in San Francisco and will be returning to California May 14 and stay through the end of May, with workshops and rallies along the way led by ACLU and immigrant rights partners. The team will cover over 5,000 miles as it travels through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana,…

ACLU Attorneys React to Argument at Supreme Court on Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Law

25 April 2012 Published in Newsroom
ACLU Attorneys React to Argument at Supreme Court on Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Law   Arizona’s SB 1070 and Other Anti-Immigrant Laws Encourage Racial Profiling FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. WASHINGTON – Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project who attended this morning’s arguments at the Supreme Court stressed the need to stop SB 1070-type laws because they encourage racial profiling, harm public safety and lead to civil rights abuses. “The justices heard compelling arguments for why they should strike down a law that lays waste to some of our most cherished American values – freedom from unnecessary police intrusion and equality for all people, regardless of how they look or sound,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “Misguided laws like this one that encourage racial profiling, compromise the safety of our communities and put everyone’s fundamental civil rights at great risk should not be allowed to remain on the books.” Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “The Supreme Court heard strong arguments today for rejecting Arizona's radical attempt to turn local police into immigration agents. SB 1070 flies in the face of Congress's decision to put immigration enforcement in…

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

11 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

25 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

04 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…