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Roe v. Utah County (1999)

09 March 1999 Published in Resolved Cases

Privacy & Technology - After receiving a complaint from a local citizen, the Utah County Attorney and the Utah County Sheriff obtained a warrant allowing them to enter and search the Movie Buffs stores in Lehi and American Fork. During the course of the searches, the Sheriff’s department confiscated not only hundreds of videos they believed to be pornographic, but also lists of individuals who had rented those videos.

Movie Buffs filed a section 1983 action against Utah County alleging First and Fourth Amendment violations. The ACLU of Utah, along with cooperating attorneys Andy McCullough and Sharon Sonnenreich, filed a motion to intervene in that lawsuit on behalf of three individuals who believe their names appear on the confiscated lists. Our complaint was based upon constitutional and statutory privacy rights, and it requested declaratory and injunctive relief as well as monetary damages. The District Court never ruled on the motion to intervene, and the 10th Circuit dismissed Movie Buffs’s action on the grounds that the federal courts should abstain until criminal proceedings against Movie Buffs were complete. In March 1999, the jury in the criminal trial acquitted the Movie Buffs’s owner of all criminal charges and we succeeded in getting an order from the federal court that all the seized lists be destroyed to protect the customers’ rights.

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