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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…

ACLU OF UTAH FILES PETITION SEEKING IMMEDIATE REVIEW OF WEBER COUNTY “GANG INJUNCTION”; REQUESTS COURT ORDER BLOCKING ENFORCEMENT OF INJUNCTION SALT LAKE CITY

04 October 2010 Published in Newsroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE        October 4, 2010                                    ACLU OF UTAH FILES PETITION SEEKING IMMEDIATE REVIEW OF WEBER COUNTY “GANG INJUNCTION”; REQUESTS COURT ORDER BLOCKING ENFORCEMENT OF INJUNCTION SALT LAKE CITY The ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorneys David Reymann and Clemens Landau of the law firm Parr Brown Gee & Loveless, along with co-counsel Michael J. Boyle, today filed petitions with the Supreme Court of the State of Utah seeking immediate appellate review of the “gang injunction” entered last week by Second District Court Judge Ernie W. Jones. The ACLU of Utah also requested that the Supreme Court block Weber County from enforcing the injunction until after the appeal is decided. The injunction, which was officially entered on September 28, prohibits the Ogden Trece (Trece), and all of its over 475 alleged members, from, among other things, associating with other alleged members of Trece (including family, friends, and co-workers), possessing legal firearms, drinking alcohol (on both public and private property), and engaging in numerous other kinds of constitutionally protected expressive speech and activities.  These prohibitions apply to anyone identified by law enforcement, in its own discretion and with no judicial oversight, to…

ACLU of Utah Seeks to Intervene in "Gang Injunction" Case

09 September 2010 Published in Newsroom
ACLU OF UTAH SEEKS TO INTERVENE IN “GANG INJUNCTION” CASE, RAISES SERIOUS CONSTITUTIONAL CONCERNS WITHWEBER COUNTY’S PROPOSED INJUNCTION The ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorneys David Reymann and Rita Cornish of the law firm Parr Brown Gee & Loveless filed motions today seeking to submit an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief or for limited intervention in the lawsuit recently filed by Weber County seeking an unprecedented “gang injunction.” The proposed injunction would prohibit the Ogden Trece organization, an alleged “street gang,” and any of its alleged members from associating or otherwise engaging in numerous lawful activities anywhere within the City of Ogden. In its lawsuit, Weber County asks the Court to label Ogden Trece, and all of its alleged members, a “public nuisance,” and to issue a permanent injunction that would prohibit those alleged members from, among other things, associating with other alleged members of the group (including, presumably, family, friends, and co-workers), possessing legal firearms, drinking alcohol (on both public and private property), and engaging in numerous other kinds of constitutionally protected expressive speech and activities. These prohibitions would apply to anyone identified by law enforcement, in its own discretion and with no judicial oversight, to be…

UACDL Files Amicus Brief in Support of ACLU's Motion for Expedited Appeal of Ogden "Gang Injunction"

17 August 2010 Published in Newsroom
For Immediate Release October 18, 2010 The Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers today filed with the Utah Supreme Court an amicus curiae (or "friend of the Court") brief (http://www.acluutah.org/UACDL_amicus_brief_Weber_v_Ogden_Trece.pdf) in support of the ACLU of Utah's Petition for Permission to Appeal Interlocutory Order and Motion for Stay Pending Appeal in the Ogden Trece "gang injunction" case. (See ACLU of Utah papers here:http://www.acluutah.org/OgdenTrece.html). A summary of the UACDL's request to be permitted leave to file an amicus brief is reproduced below: *** UACDL’s involvement in this case would ensure that the constitutional issues are fully briefed. Contrary to Weber County’s claims that its request for an injunction is not out of the ordinary, the County’s motion appears to be suspect on its face. One of the principal cases that the county relies on, People v. Acuna, 929 P.2d 596, 609 (Cal. 1997), is readily distinguishable from this matter given the vast geographical area that the County’s motion seeks to address. As opposed to the small area at issue in Acuna, the County seeks to ban a large area of Ogden City. Indeed, on August 28, 2010, the Ogden City police chief described the goal of the injunction in the Salt…

ACLU Of Utah Joins Nationwide Letter To DHS Secretary Napolitano Criticizing DHS’s Response to and Potential Use Of “The List"

29 July 2010 Published in Newsroom
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah (ACLU of Utah) this week joined with 120 other civil rights organizations and individuals nationwide to urge Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano categorically to reject use by DHS of the now-infamous “list” of 1,300 Utah residents who are allegedly in the country unlawfully. Noting the almost universal condemnation of the list across the political spectrum, the letter asks that Secretary Napolitano: • Issue a public statement unequivocally rejecting the Utah blacklist and this kind of vigilante approach to immigration enforcement;• Commit not to rely on information furnished in the blacklist to pursue any immigration investigations or enforcement actions;• Notify all ICE officers and trial attorneys that they may not rely on the blacklist for purposes of immigration investigations, arrests, detention, prosecutions, or removals; and• Inform all 121 organizations that signed the letter of what actions, if any, ICE undertook when it first received the blacklist in early April. “This type of list, created illegally by state employees utilizing confidential government databases, serves only to inspire fear and distrust in our communities,” said ACLU of Utah Executive Director Karen McCreary. “For the government to utilize information that was compiled and released…

Utah Supreme Court Validates Use of E-Signatures in Electoral Process

22 June 2010 Published in Newsroom
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – The Utah Supreme Court today issued an opinion validating the use of e-signatures in the electoral process. The Court’s opinion, the first of its kind nationwide, has the potential to increase significantly the ability of independent candidates to access the general election ballot, and thus to increase the opportunity for minority viewpoints to be heard and considered in election years.

Execution In Utah Highlights Need To Abolish Death Penalty, Says ACLU

09 June 2010 Published in Newsroom
Execution By Firing Squad Inhumane And Brings Needed Attention To Death Penalty's Systemic Injustices The execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, who was put to death by firing squad early Friday, highlights the inhumanity and inequity of the death penalty system in the United States, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The execution of Gardner, who was strapped into a chair, had a hood placed over his head and a small white target pinned over his heart before five anonymous men fired at him with identical .30 caliber rifles, was the third death sentence carried out by firing squad since 1976, and the first since 1996. The state of Utah has executed just seven people in the last 35 years, and currently there are only nine people on the state's death row. The following can be attributed to John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project: "Gardner's execution was both savage and inhumane and highlights the systemic injustices that plague the entire death penalty system in Utah and the rest of the United States. Those who are executed in this country are casualties of an unequal system of justice, in which decisions about who lives and who dies are…

ACLU OF UTAH RELEASES REPORT ON OGDEN ELECTION IRREGULARITIES

24 January 2010 Published in Newsroom
  Report details reported incidents of electioneering, over-reaching voter challenges and provisional ballot issues, concluding that legislative changes and increased oversight are necessary. click here for a pdf version of this press release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 25, 2008 Contact: Karen McCreary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (801) 521-9862 ext 102 April 25, 2008 – SALT LAKE CITY – The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah released a report today detailing the results of an investigation into election irregularities surrounding the Ogden 2007 municipal election. The ACLU of Utah received numerous complaints from Ogden elections following the November 6 election, alleging inappropriate use of voter challenges, denial of provisional ballots, voter intimidation and electioneering at polling places. “The individuals who contacted our office had serious concerns that their right to vote was compromised,” says Marina Lowe, ACLU of Utah Staff Attorney. “They arrived at the polling place, ready to vote, and were shocked when they were turned away, or when they discovered later that their provisional ballot went uncounted. The right to vote is one of our most fundamental liberties; these individuals felt that their access to that right was unfairly compromised.” In response to these complaints, the ACLU of Utah conducted an…

ACLU of Utah Deeply Troubled By Attorney General's Website Featuring Arrest Video

28 August 2008 Published in Newsroom
  The Office of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff recently launched a website featuring arrest videos of alleged Internet predators. Shurtleff unveiled the site, which he heralded as a means to deter sex offenses, at a public press conference on August 27, 2008. At that time, members of the press and public were shown a video of a man being led away in handcuffs; the video also featured interviews with law enforcement officials who commented on the danger that this arrested man poses to society. The ACLU of Utah is deeply concerned by the Attorney General’s actions. At the time of the press conference, the ACLU of Utah issued an official statement condemning the tactics used as part of this new website. In particular, the ACLU of Utah stated emphatically that fundamental to the United States’ legal system is the principle that individuals are innocent until proven guilty; mere arrest does not equate to guilt. However, widely publicizing an arrest in this sensational manner can cause members of the public to conclude that the arrested man is guilty. While news media often documents and airs arrests, there is a particular danger that an arrested individual will be found guilty in…

National ACLU Statement on the Texas Raid of FLDS Ranch

02 May 2008 Published in Newsroom
On April 3, 2008, Texas law enforcement officials obtained a search warrant related to the suspected sexual assault of a child and then conducted a raid on the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas. Based upon news reports and other available information, the ACLU has serious concerns that the state’s actions so far have not adequately protected the fundamental rights at stake.