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The ACLU of Utah Commemorates the Life of Brian Barnard

04 September 2012 Published in Newsroom
The ACLU of Utah Commemorates the Life of Brian Barnard   For Immediate Release: September 4, 2012 Brian’s death is a huge loss to the community. Whenever anyone thinks of a civil rights lawyer in Utah, they think of Brian Barnard. He has stood up for the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable for decades and has been instrumental in moving civil rights forward. Brian worked with the ACLU since the mid-1970s. He has partnered with the ACLU of Utah for nearly 40 years as a cooperating attorney on all manner of civil liberties cases. Brian had a wicked sense of humor, a passion for individual rights, and an unwavering commitment to the protection of the people on the fringes of society whose rights were most frequently under attack. One of his very first Free Speech cases with the ACLU of Utah came in 1975, when he defended a theater owner who showed the film "Deep Throat," and in so doing attacked a vague and overly broad obscenity ordinance that stifled free expression. Brian also worked on ACLU cases related to law enforcement excessive force, jail overcrowding and lack of mental health facilities, school-sanctioned prayer, the rights of protestors and…

ACLU of Utah Helps Launch Free Deferred Action Workshops for Childhood Arrivals

04 August 2012 Published in Newsroom
The Utah Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), in collaboration with other public interest groups, is sponsoring a series of free workshops throughout Utah to help those eligible for relief from deportation under the recently announced deferred action program. Supporting partners include the ACLU of Utah, Catholic Community Services, Holy Cross Ministries, the Mexican Consulate, SLC Dream Team and Mestizo Arts and Activism.

ACLU Seeks Details On Automatic License Plate Readers In Massive Nationwide Request

30 July 2012 Published in Newsroom
ACLU Seeks Details On Automatic License Plate Readers In Massive Nationwide Request   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 30, 2012 INFORMATION SOUGHT ON HOW CAMERAS ARE USED BY POLICE AGENCIES AND HOW DATA IS STORED SALT LAKE CITY –American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in 35 states, including Utah, sent requests today to local police departments and state agencies that demand information on how they use automatic license plate readers (ALPR) to track and record Americans’ movements. In addition, the ACLU’s national office filed federal Freedom of Information Act requests with the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Transportation to learn how the federal government funds ALPR expansion nationwide and uses the technology itself. ALPRs are cameras mounted on patrol cars or on stationary objects along roads – such as telephone poles or the underside of bridges –that snap a photograph of every license plate that enters their fields of view. Typically, each photo is time, date, and GPS-stamped, stored, and sent to a database, which provides an alert to a patrol officer whenever a match or “hit” appears. ALPRs are spreading rapidly around the country, but the public has little information about how they are used to track motorists’ movements, including…

ACLU of Utah Files Amicus Brief In Utah Supreme Court Arguing That Ban On Electronic Signatures In the Initiative Process Is Unconstitutional

19 July 2012 Published in Newsroom
Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, along with cooperating attorneys David C. Reymann and Chad R. Derum, filed an amicus curiae brief to the Utah Supreme Court in the case of Utahns for Ethical Government v. Clerks for All Counties in the State of Utah. In its brief, the ACLU of Utah argued that a ban on counting electronic signatures in the initiative process violates the Utah Constitution.

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…