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Moving Justice Forward For 60 Years!

Articles, Resources, and Position Papers

Following is a partial list of ACLU of Utah articles, resources and position papers. Additional materials can be found on our issue pages.

Students! Know Your Rights: A Guide For Utah High School Students

SKYRlrgIn school, young people not only learn about their constitutional rights, but they also see firsthand how those rights may be affected by the actions of others. The ACLU of Utah is dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of students and to helping students understand their rights in school.

The material provided on this website is for basic informational purposes only. It is not meant to be and should not be taken as legal advice, nor should you rely on this information instead of seeking the advice of an attorney. The legal issues surrounding civil rights and civil liberties are among the most complex in the law, and a person’s rights may vary from case to case depending on small and subtle details. Only a lawyer who has taken the time to become fully aware of the facts in a given case can provide you with sound legal advice.

If you feel your rights have been violated, please let us know the details by filling out a complaint form on our website.

National ACLU links for youth & students

A Guide For Utah High School Students

Other Utah Material

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Make Your School District a Safer One For Immigrants

03 April 2017 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Join other Utahns who are taking grassroots action to make their schools safer for immigrant students and families!

Racial Disparities in Utah’s Juvenile Justice System

13 February 2017 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This report explores the racial disparities that result from flaws in Utah’s current juvenile justice system and outlines specific recommendations for reform.

Take A Stand For Justice!

18 January 2017 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
 Get involved with the ACLU of Utah to ensure constitutional rights and freedoms for all in 2017.

About the ACLU of Utah - Fall 2016

20 October 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
he ACLU of Utah, chartered in 1958, operates through public education, legal advocacy, litigation, and lobbying at both the state and local levels to ensure the constitutional rights and freedoms of everyone living in or visiting Utah. Our work is based on those principles outlined in the Bill of Rights and our priorities include: Participatory Democracy; Racial Justice; Criminal Justice Reform; Immigration Reform; LGBTQ Equality; Women’s Rights;  Digital Security & Privacy; and Religious Liberty & Freedom of Belief. In addition, we continue our commitment to protect the First Amendment. For more about the ACLU of Utah and our priorities please visit www.acluutah.org Staff Brittney Nystrom, Executive Director Marina Baginsky Lowe, Legislative and Policy Counsel John Mejia, Legal Director  Leah Farrell, Staff Attorney Anna Brower Thomas, Strategic Communications Manager Jessica Andrews, Coordinator of Administration and Finance Reinard Knutsen, Office Manager Margie Nash, Paralegal Rose Maizner, Development Consultant Nubia Pena, Coordinator, Racially Just Utah   Board of Directors Michael Weinholtz, President Danielle Hawkes, Vice President Bill Orchow, Treasurer Barry Gomberg, Affirmative Action Officer Roderic Land, National ACLU Board Rep. Erin Castro,  Heidi Chamorro,  Chase Clyde, Gina Cornia,  Forrest Crawford, Russell Fericks,   Rachel Heller, Clemens Landau,  Cathleen Power   Legal Panel Jensie Anderson, Rusty Andrade, …

ACLU of Utah Stands with Standing Rock Sioux

20 October 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Fall Newsletter >> The ACLU of Utah has long been committed to supporting and defending the rights of indigenous people and communities.  Of particular importance to the ACLU of Utah is that all communities, especially those that have been long marginalized by the government, can freely and actively engage in the democratic process without government interference.  That is why we are working with Native American voters in San Juan County to protect Navajo access to the ballot box.   That is why we stood up for the right of indigenous people to advocate for, or against, a Bears Ears National Monument, free from government investigation and scrutiny. And that is why we stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota.

ACLU of Utah Stands with Standing Rock Sioux

20 October 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Fall Newsletter >> The ACLU of Utah has long been committed to supporting and defending the rights of indigenous people and communities.  Of particular importance to the ACLU of Utah is that all communities, especially those that have been long marginalized by the government, can freely and actively engage in the democratic process without government interference.  That is why we are working with Native American voters in San Juan County to protect Navajo access to the ballot box.   That is why we stood up for the right of indigenous people to advocate for, or against, a Bears Ears National Monument, free from government investigation and scrutiny. And that is why we stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota.

Remember That Prison Utah is Building?

19 October 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Fall Newsletter >> Yes, there IS going to be a new prison in Utah. That’s (surprisingly) not necessarily bad news. But ONLY because we are talking about a new REPLACEMENT prison - and not a new ADDITIONAL prison. State leaders must never forget that hundreds of people work and volunteer at the Utah State Prison, and thousands more actually LIVE there. These people – as well as their families, loved ones, and advocates – have concerns about their future quality of life. Even mundane conversations about mosquito abatement and soil quality are of pressing importance to those who will spend many – or all – of the hours in each day at the new facility.  While a new state information website falls short of providing needed information, the September 19  public meeting of the Prison Development Commission (PDC) was, by comparison, very informative. In less than 90 minutes, several of local advocates’ pressing fears were assuaged (for the moment). Here are five of those fears, and a bit of the new information that assuaged them. FEAR #1: The new prison isn’t really going to happen. There is a persistent concern among…

Navajo Voters Sue San Juan County Over Voting Policy

19 October 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Fall Newsletter >> The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, DLA Piper, LLP, the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Utah, filed suit against San Juan County, Utah on behalf of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, and seven members of the Navajo Nation in February.  The lawsuit, Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission v. San Juan County et al., was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Utah and alleges that San Juan County violates provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The case arises from the county’s decision in 2014 to close all polling places on the Navajo Nation portion of San Juan County and switch to a mail-only voting system. The county is required to provide voting materials – including voting instructions and ballots – in both English and Navajo, a primarily unwritten language. Also, the postal system in rural parts of San Juan County, where many Navajo voters reside, is unreliable and not accessible, making it difficult for many Navajo voters to receive and return their ballots on time…

ACLU of Utah Brings Class Action Lawsuit To Alleviate Utah’s Indigent Defense Crisis

19 October 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Fall Newsletter >> On June 21, 2016, the ACLU of Utah and co-counsel Holland & Hart, LLP, filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Utah for failing to meet its Sixth Amendment obligations under the U.S. Constitution.  The lawsuit, Remick v. Utah, filed in Utah’s Third Judicial District Court, is brought by six individual plaintiffs, who seek to represent a class of individuals seeking declaratory relief. The named plaintiffs – who are facing charges in Tooele County, Carbon County and Cache County – were discovered through jail visits and courtroom observations throughout the state. Their experience with difficulties accessing counsel is representative of problems faced by indigent defendants statewide.  The ACLU of Utah has been engaged in advocacy related to Utah’s failing indigent defense system since before 2011, when the organization released “Failing Gideon,” a report that illustrated the many ways in which Utah is failing to fulfill the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of access to legal counsel. A report released in 2015 by the Sixth Amendment Center, a non-partisan research organization, confirmed the dismal findings in “Failing Gideon.” By some estimates, 80% of those facing criminal charges in Utah…

ACLU Of Utah Supporter Survey

19 October 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
Please share your thoughts with us through a quick survey on our projects, strategic work areas and methods of engagement. Dear Supporter, I am thrilled to be celebrating my first two months as the new Executive Director of the ACLU of Utah. It’s an honor to join you in the work of protecting and advancing civil liberties in Utah. Friends like you are the heart of the ACLU of Utah. Without your support — taking action, making financial contributions, spreading the word — we would not be able to do the hard work of protecting and expanding civil liberties in our state! The ACLU of Utah has so many incredible community partners, committed cooperating attorneys, generous donors and passionate members. I’ve been lucky to meet many of these great people since returning to Utah this summer. I’m grateful for the fresh ideas and valuable feedback I have already received about the direction of our work. I’d like to hear from you, too! Please take the short  ACLU OF UTAH SUPPORTER SURVEY online (www.acluutah.org) or call our office (801-871-0329) and we’ll mail it to you.  With your help, the ACLU can continue to have a real impact in Utah.  All my…

Protect Utahns’ Private Property

19 October 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Fall Newsletter >> You can take action to reform civil asset forfeiture laws in Utah Utah’s current civil asset forfeiture laws allow police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government. The practice of civil assest forfeiture was originally conceived as a way to cripple large-scale criminal enterprises by diverting their resources. But data from law enforcement agencies reveal that in Utah, the vast majority of individuals who have their property seized by police are never even charged — much less convicted — of a crime. For people whose property has been seized through civil asset forfeiture, legally regaining such property is notoriously difficult and expensive, with costs often exceeding the value of the property.  The practice of asset forfeiture disproportionately affects low-income people, people of color, and immigrant and refugee communities - all populations more likely to keep and use cash in lieu of mainstream banking. When government prosecutors are allowed to keep seized…

ACLU of Utah Continues To Press For Release Of Video Footage Showing Police Shooting

19 October 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Fall Newsletter >> The ACLU of Utah is disappointed that Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) and Salt Lake County continue to refuse to release body camera and surveillance video footage of the February 2016 shooting of then-17-year-old community member Abdi Mohamed.  In a press conference on August 8, District Attorney Sim Gill announced that his office had concluded that the shooting of Mr. Mohamed by two Salt Lake City police officers was “justified” under state law. Mr. Gill also said the county would continue to withhold from the public all body camera and surveillance video footage of the incident. In addition, Mr. Gill announced that the County is charging Mr.  Mohamed with several serious crimes, including aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony that carries a potential life sentence in prison, and will attempt to prosecute him as an adult.  In July, the SLCPD and Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office refused a request for the video footage the ACLU of Utah made under the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA).  In doing so, the agencies argued that the footage was related to an ongoing investigation into the shooting of…

Utah Board of Pardons and Parole: Information for Inmates and their Families

26 August 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
The ACLU of Utah created this informational document to explain how the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole (BOP) functions, and the role the Board plays in determining how long each state inmate remains in state custody. 

Election Day Registration

08 July 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
ACLU of Utah Online Voter Complaint Form The ACLU of Utah wants to assure that each vote cast in Utah is counted accurately and equally. It is also important that election laws are applied uniformly throughout the state. If you had any problem with registering, casting your vote, or if you observed a problem at your polling place, please take the time to fill out this complaint form.  Utah’s New Election Day Registration Program 2016 Utah Voter Empowerment Guide >> How do I find out if my county is participating?      • Call 800-995-VOTE or check with your county clerk. You can find the contact information for your county clerk at http://elections.utah.gov/election-resources/county-clerks.                How do I register to vote on Election Day?       • Go to your polling place and ask for a provisional ballot.       • Bring ID that shows your name and address. If you don’t have one ID that shows both, you can bring two IDs. See back for more information.       • Your provisional ballot will be counted as long as you are eligible to vote in the precinct where you cast your ballot.   Where’s my polling place?       • Look up your polling…

VICTORY! Salt Lake City Police and School District Settle Suit Over “Gang Operation” By Agreeing To Changes

20 April 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Spring Newsletter >> The Salt Lake City Police Department and the Salt Lake City School District have agreed to make broad and meaningful changes in how they treat students of color and engage in school disciplinary issues under the settlement with the ACLU of Utah and the ACLU Racial Justice Project announced on February 26, 2016.  The agreements stem from a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of students at West High School who were caught up in a late 2010 “gang operation” carried out by various local police departments on school grounds during the school day.  During the “gang operation,” all of the students detained and documented were of Latino, African-American, or Pacific Island descent, even though students of color comprised just half the student body. They were rounded up, questioned, searched, and photographed holding signs describing alleged gang affiliation.  Their information was then documented and entered into a police database, potentially subjecting them to future unwarranted police scrutiny.  As part of settlement, the city and school district have pledged that:  Salt Lake City police will not conduct any operations like the 2010 gang enforcement operation. Officers…

San Juan County Voting System Challenged

20 April 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Spring Newsletter >> On February 25, the ACLU of Utah, as co-counsel with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, DLA Piper, LLP, and the ACLU Voting Rights Project, filed a federal lawsuit challenging San Juan County’s mail-only voting system on behalf of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission and several individual plaintiffs.  The suit contends that a mail-only system adversely impacts Navajo voters. The case arises from the County’s decision in 2014 to close all polling places and switch to a mail-only voting system. The County is covered by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act and is required to provide all voting materials – including voting instructions and ballots – in both English and Navajo.  Because Navajo is an unwritten language, the suit contends that the County’s mail-only ballot system conflicts with the County’s Section 203 obligations. Moreover, the postal system in rural parts of San Juan County, where many Navajo voters reside, is unreliable and not accessible, making it difficult for many Navajo voters to receive and return their ballots on time under a mail-only electoral system. Although the County is approximately half white and half…

ACLU of Utah Executive Director to Retire in 2016

15 April 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Spring Newsletter >> Earlier this year Karen McCreary announced that she will retire in the summer of 2016. Since becoming the organization’s head in 2006, Karen has more than doubled the staff, overseen impressive fundraising growth, extended the ACLU of Utah’s presence statewide, built a vigorous legal program, and greatly expanded the ACLU of Utah’s influential participation at the Utah Legislature. Under Karen’s leadership, the ACLU of Utah championed a successful legal challenge to Utah’s Arizona-style anti-immigration law HB497, helped pass Utah’s LGBT non-discrimination act and successfully challenged governmental impediments to full marriage equality. The ACLU also played a critical role in Utah’s sweeping criminal justice reform efforts and built grassroots community coalitions to advocate for racial justice throughout the state  A search committee of current and previous Board members is accepting applications to fill the position. The next Executive Director will take over a healthy and dynamic organization that will continue to protect civil liberties and equality for all people living and visiting Utah. More information about the position and application process can be found on our website at www.acluutah.org. 

When Police Shoot Community Members: “Something Has To Change!”

15 April 2016 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2016 Spring Newsletter >> So far, 2016 has already seen several violent interactions between Utah law enforcement and the community. Two high-profile shootings  have occurred in Salt Lake City alone since January (among others that have attracted less attention statewide): Palema Lautaimi, a 28-year-old Polynesian man from the west side of Salt Lake City, and Abdi Mohamed, a 17-year-old Kenyan refugee who has lived in Utah since arriving as a child ten years ago. In Utah, as with elsewhere in the nation, shootings of community members by police have been subjected to increasing public scrutiny. The ACLU of Utah has closely tracked this phenomenon, as it is directly related to core civil liberties issues including police militarization, racial bias, transparency and accountability. Recently, we have become more closely engaged with family members of individuals shot by police and with on-the-ground community activists who share our concerns regarding law enforcement’s use of force.  Last summer, ACLU of Utah staff members began working with local activists and advocacy groups - including Cop Watch SLC, the United Front and Utahns for Peaceful Resolution - to make positive change at both the local and state levels.…

About the ACLU of Utah

30 September 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2015 Fall Newsletter >> The ACLU of Utah, chartered in 1958, operates through public education, legal advocacy, litigation, and lobbying at both the state and local levels to ensure the constitutional rights and freedoms of everyone living in or visiting Utah. Our work is based on those principals outlined in the Bill of Rights and our priorities include: Participatory Democracy; Racial Justice; Criminal Justice Reform; Immigration Reform; LGBTQ Equality; Women’s Rights;  Digital Security & Privacy; and Religious Liberty & Freedom of Belief. In addition, we continue our commitment to protect the First Amendment. Staff Karen McCreary, Executive Director Marina Baginsky Lowe, Legislative and Policy Counsel John Mejia, Legal Director  Leah Farrell, Staff Attorney Amy O’Connor, Development Director Anna Brower, Strategic Communications Manager Jessica Andrews, Coordinator of Administration and Finance Reinard Knutsen, Office Manager Rose Maizner, Development Consultant Board of Directors Dianna Cannon, Erin Castro, Heidi Chamorro, Chase Clyde, Gina Cornia, Forrest Crawford, Marian Edmonds-Allen, Russell Fericks,  Barry Gomberg, Danielle Hawkes, Nathan Hult, Bill Orchow, Roderic Land, Cathleen Power, David Reymann, Jill Sheinberg, Larry Stevens, Michael Weinholtz Legal Panel Jensie Anderson, Rusty Andrade,  Laura Kessler, Clemens Landau, Tom Mitchell, Kristina Ruedas, Karen Stam, Aaron Tarin, Mary Woodhead Interns and Volunteers  Ariana Barusch, Bronwen Dromey, Matt Grow, Chris Harelson, Olga Hernandez-Favela,…

ACLU Report Finds Unsatisfactory Public Complaint Process In Utah’s Law Enforcement Agencies

30 September 2015 Published in Articles, Resources, and Position Papers
This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2015 Fall Newsletter >> The ACLU of Utah recently issued a report analyzing how Utah law enforcement handles complaints from members of the public.  The report, “Opportunities for Trust Building: Overview and Recommendations for Law Enforcement’s Public Complaint Process,” was prompted by numerous individuals who reached out to the ACLU of Utah to express frustration with the complaint process involving law enforcement agencies around the state. To evaluate how well Utah law enforcement agencies handle complaints from the public, the ACLU of Utah conducted two studies. One was an in-depth telephone study of 12 law enforcement offices from across the state, and the second, was a more general written request to 106 agencies.  Unfortunately, we found some troubling trends in the way Utah law enforcement agencies handle citizen complaints. Our three main areas of concern were as follows: Utah agencies too often create conditions of inaccessibility, which discourages the public from complaining. Utah agencies marginalize some populations and restrict their ability to access the complaint process. Several Utah agencies provide internally inconsistent information about their public complaint processes.   We conclude that because of this lack of uniformity and failure to comply…

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