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 demonstrators, political signs and speech in Utah communities, and more.
Brian was involved in the lawsuit that forced the Alta Club to admit women and represented the Society of Separationists in a years-long battle against denominational prayers in public meetings in Utah.
More recently, Brian collaborated with the ACLU of Utah on cases involving the mistreatment of prisoners in Utah jails and prisons, and also the rights of young people to demonstrate and express their political views.
In "Friendly Fire: The ACLU in Utah," local author Linda Sillitoe quotes Brian as saying, "I enjoy this kind of practice. If there aren't attorneys around to do something about it, the Bill of Rights doesn't mean anything.”