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ACLU Files Lawsuit Over Unlawful Sweep at Utah School Targeting Students of Color
Winston v. Salt Lake City Police Department et al (2012)
On Thursday, December 13, 2012, the ACLU of Utah along with Courtney Bowie, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program, filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah against school and police officials alleging students' rights were violated during a "gang sweep" at West High School. The complaint stems from a December 2010 incident where 14 to 40 students of Latino, African-American, and Pacific Island descent were unlawfully detained, interrogated, and falsely identified as gang members. The complaint was filed on behalf of a student, with no gang involvement, who was unlawfully detained, searched, photographed and then logged into a "gang database." As a result of the incident, the student suffered stress and humiliation which caused him to temporarily leave the school. The ACLU claims the sweep violated Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure along with the violation of Fourteenth Amendment rights to Equal Protection. The case is part of a national pattern of criminalizing students of color which, experts and activists in the field of education, claim is an element of what has been called the school-to-prison-pipeline.
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Ogden's "Gang Injunction" Appealed To Utah Supreme Court And Immediate Stay Requested
Weber Co v Ogden Trece (2012)
On September 12, 2012, The ACLU of Utah, together with cooperating attorneys David Reymann of Parr Brown Gee & Loveless and Randy Richards of Allen, Richards & Pace, filed a Notice of Appeal in the Second Judicial District Court for Weber County appealing the court’s so-called “gang injunction” to the Utah Supreme Court.
The injunction purportedly applies to the “Ogden Trece” gang as an entity, and covers virtually the entire city of Ogden. The injunction prohibits more than three hundred of its “alleged” members from a wide range of constitutionally protected conduct, including: associating with other alleged members (including family, friends, and co-workers), engaging in peaceful protests in public places, traveling together to vote, and even appearing in court together to challenge the injunction. The injunction also imposes a perpetual 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on hundreds of individuals that apparently applies for the rest of their lives, as well as permanently prohibiting them from possessing legal firearms, drinking or merely being in the presence of alcohol (on both public and private property), and engaging in any conduct that police, in their unfettered discretion, consider “annoying.” These prohibitions apply to anyone that the police decide, without any prior judicial oversight, are members of the “gang.” The ACLU of Utah requested that the district court suspend the enforcement of the injunction while the appeal is still pending.
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Amicus Brief Filed In Utah Supreme Court Arguing That Ban On Electronic Signatures In the Initiative Process Is Unconstitutional
Utahns for Ethical Government v. Clerks for All Counties in the State of Utah (2012)
On July 20, 2012, The ACLU of Utah, along with cooperating attorneys David C. Reymann and Chad R. Derum, filed an amicus curiae brief to the Utah Supreme Court on behalf of Utahns' for Ethical Government (UEG,) an organization that has has worked to place an initiative on the ballot of this year’s general election. As part of those efforts, various disputes arose between UEG and election officials, and UEG brought suit in Utah state district court to resolve them. As part of that suit, UEG asked the district court to rule that any electronic signatures UEG collected in support of placing the initiative on the ballot must be counted. On June 6, 2012, the district court denied UEG’s motion, appearing to reason that electronic signatures could never comply with Utah’s statutory requirements for gathering, submitting, processing, and counting signatures for initiative petitions. In its brief, the ACLU of Utah argued that a ban on counting electronic signatures in the initiative process violates the Utah Constitution.
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Salt Lake County Sued Over Unlawful Detention of College Student
Uroza v. Salt Lake County (2011)
On August 5, 2011, the ACLU of Utah with cooperating attorney B. Kent Morgan of The Dyer Law Group filed a complaint in federal district court on behalf of 22-year-old college student Enrique Uroza. The complaint was filed in response to an incident in which Mr. Uroza was held at the Salt Lake County Metro Jail (Metro) for 39 days after his family posted the court-ordered bail. Mr. Uroza was held pursuant to an unconstitutional jail policy, which purportedly gives the jail authority to hold individuals who cannot prove to the satisfaction of jail officials that they are lawfully present in the United States. This policy subjects individuals to unlawful detention, thereby depriving individuals of their personal liberty without due process of law, in violation of the United States Constitution.
On March 26, 2012, an amended complaint was filed alleging that officials and agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, are responsible in part for the unconstitutional and illegally prolonged imprisonment of 23-year-old Enrique Uroza. The amended complaint also adds the United States as a defendant, alleging that its agents caused Mr. Uroza to be unlawfully deprived of his liberty.
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Lawsuit Against UDOT Over Continued Unconstitutional Restrictions on Free Speech
iMatter Utah v. Utah Department of Transportation (2011)
On July 8, 2011, the ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorneys Brian M. Barnard and Stewart Gollan of the Utah Legal Clinic filed an amended complaint on behalf of iMatter Utah. iMatter Utah is challenging as unconstitutional the Utah Department of Transportation’s (UDOT) requirements that event organizers, such as iMatter Utah, obtain large liability insurance policies and collect releases of liability from all event participants prior to the staging of any event or protest on UDOT property. iMatter Utah is a volunteer organization comprised primarily of students, that works to promote public discussion and education on the issue of climate change. iMatter Utah has no organizational funding or fundraising ability, and thus cannot afford to pay the high insurance premium prices necessary in order to hold an event on UDOT property. Salt Lake City makes exceptions for events held by groups such as iMatter Utah that have no fundraising ability, however, UDOT makes no such exceptions. UDOT’s stringent liability requirements have made it effectively impossible for iMatter Utah to hold any events on UDOT property, thus violating iMatter Utah members’ First Amendment rights to free speech and expression. The complaint was amended to reflect iMatter Utah’s desire to host an event partially on UDOT property on September 24, and the inability to do so because of UDOT’s liability requirements.
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ACLU And NILC File Lawsuit Challenging Utah “Show Me Your Papers” Law
Utah Coalition of La Raza v. Herbert (2011)
On May 3, 2011, 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 in federal district court challenging Utah’s HB 497. HB 497 gives law enforcement the authority to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops, much like Arizona’s SB 1070. The lawsuit charged that HB 497 is unconstitutional in that it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, Fourth Amendment, Equal Protection Clause, and the right to travel. The federal district court promptly blocked implementation of the law. In an Order issued Tuesday, February 21, Judge Clark Waddoups announced that he will wait to issue a decision on our request for a Preliminary Injunction (“PI”) in UCLR v. Herbert (“UCLR”), Utah’s HB 497 “Show Me Your Papers” lawsuit, until the Supreme Court issues its decision in an Arizona case that raises similar legal questions to some of the issues raised here in Utah.
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