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ACLU of Utah 2003 Annual Report

20 August 2004 Published in Annual Reports

Legal Action: New Cases Filed

Tenth Circuit asked to uphold Fourth Amendment protections for immigrants

Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches or seizures by law enforcement officers does not apply to undocumented immigrants who have previously been deported because of a felony charge. This unprecedented ruling was based on a case involving Jorge Esparza-Mendoza, a Mexican national who was prosecuted in 2002 for illegally reentering the United States. Law enforcement learned of Esparza-Mendoza’s immigration status after he was detained and questioned by Salt Lake County Sheriff’s officers when his parked car was damaged in an altercation and he declined to make a claim for the damage or show identification to the deputies investigating the matter. The Utah Federal Court held that Esparza-Mendoza’s detention was an illegal seizure but that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to him or any other “previously-removed alien felons.”

In December 2003, the ACLU of Utah, along with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the National Association of Federal Defenders, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Judge Cassell’s ruling. The brief argues that the Utah Federal Court “stands alone among the federal courts that have confronted this issue,” and that its “analyses is unsupported by precedent, history or constitutional text.” The brief also argues that the ruling undermines the constitutional protections for citizens and immigrants alike because it invites law enforcement officers to make snap judgments about a person’s immigration status based on ethnicity, race, or ability to speak English. We are currently awaiting a decision from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

ACLU files second suit regarding the public easement on the Main Street Plaza

In June 2003, the Salt Lake City Council set in motion a second lawsuit involving the public’s First Amendment rights on the Main Street Plaza when it voted 6-0 to swap the plaza’s public easement for land owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the west side of town and funds to create a new community center. The vote came eight months after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the ACLU of Utah’s first Main Street case, holding that the easement was a public forum with the accompanying First Amendment rights, and that any viewpoint-based restrictions associated with the easement were unconstitutional. Since the Tenth Circuit’s ruling, city leaders struggled to find a way to both appease the desires of the LDS Church to control expression on the plaza and to honor the community’s expectation that the plaza would remain a public forum. Unfortunately, the city chose to protect the church’s religious use of the property and to prevent anyone with viewpoints other than those endorsed by the church to express them on what used to be downtown Main Street.

In August 2003, the ACLU of Utah and the national ACLU filed a lawsuit asking the federal court to examine everything surrounding the exchange of the public easement for church-owned land to determine whether the city set aside its long-stated and valid public policy for pedestrian access and passage through the Main Street Plaza in order to accommodate the LDS Church’s desire to impose discriminatory restrictions on speech expressed on that property. The brief maintains that the city’s action violates the free speech rights of its citizens and represents an unconstitutional endorsement of the LDS Church. Later, we filed an injunction asking the court to allow free speech on the plaza while the lawsuit is underway. Formal discovery began, including the depositions of Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, LDS Church Presiding Bishop David Burton, Alliance for Unity member Jon Huntsman, Sr., and ACLU of Utah executive director Dani Eyer. In May 2004, the Utah Federal Court dismissed both the case and the injunction, and that same month, we appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Case Resolutions

Perry v. State of Utah and Nuttall v. Salt Lake County

In 2002, officials at the Department of Corrections and the Salt Lake County Metro Jail announced that in an effort to comply with a recent legislative mandate, they would begin collecting DNA samples from all inmates who had pled guilty to or been convicted of a felony charge or a class A burglary offense. Additionally, they hoped to pay for this operation by charging inmates a mandatory $75 processing fee with no exception for those who were unable to pay. In two separate cases filed in 2002, we argued that because neither the Department of Corrections nor the Salt Lake County Metro Jail had enacted rules or procedures to determine whether inmates were indigent and therefore unable to pay the fee, both departments violated inmates’ due process rights. During their 2004 session, the Utah State Legislature passed HB 93, “DNA Reimbursement Costs,” which stated that corrections agencies could charge an across-the-board $75 processing fee for taking DNA samples even if charging that fee would result in a negative balance in an inmate’s account. The bill further stated that if an agency chose to charge this fee, they have met their obligation to determine an inmate’s ability to pay. The legislation effectively rendered our lawsuits moot and in April 2004, we filed motions to dismiss.

Nathan Clark v. Iron County

For twelve days in the fall of 2002, Nathan Clark was incarcerated in the Iron County Jail. As a devotee of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Mr. Clark has strict dietary requirements, which jail officials refused to provide to him even after he submitted a written request for an accommodation. In March 2003, we filed a lawsuit on Mr. Clark’s behalf arguing that because jail officials denied Mr. Clark his spiritually required diet and because the facility lacked policies or procedures regarding religious diets for inmates, the Iron County Jail had improperly restricted Mr. Clark’s ability to practice his religion. In January 2004, the administrators at Iron County Jail chose to change its policies, which now state that prisoners have the right to follow their prescribed religious diets. 

Ogden City v. Bruce Edwards and Bruce Edwards v. Ogden City

In December 2001, the Ogden City Council enacted an ordinance that, except in limited circumstances, prohibited property owners from posting signs on vacant buildings. Although appearing to be content neutral, the ordinance was passed specifically to keep Ogden resident Bruce Edwards from posting signs criticizing the city on several buildings he owned in downtown Ogden. When Mr. Edwards refused to remove the signs, Ogden City initiated a criminal prosecution against him for violating the new ordinance. In 2002, we defended Mr. Edwards from the criminal charge and filed a lawsuit against Ogden City in which we argued that the city had no compelling reason to restrict Mr. Edwards’s core political speech and that the ordinance was being used to suppress only those viewpoints with which the city disagreed. In October 2003, Second District Judge Parley Baldwin ruled in favor of Mr. Edwards and overturned the ordinance.

Citizens of Nebo School District v. Wendy Weaver

In April 2003, the Utah Supreme Court ended a five-year legal battle that began when a group of Utah County citizens asked the courts to do what the State Board of Education and the Division of Professional Licensing had refused to do—namely to declare that because Wendy Weaver is a lesbian, she is unfit to continue her successful career as a teacher and coach at Spanish Fork High School. In a unanimous ruling, the Utah Supreme Court noted that any method for remedying school teacher violations already exists through professional boards; that no private right of action exists for students or parents of students to enforce requirements for public school employees; that the court is not a forum for mere advisory opinions; and that it had no authority to fire Ms. Weaver or order the school board to do so. The decision is an important reminder that individuals cannot look to the courts to enforce their prejudicial views about lesbian and gay teachers.

Critical to the success of our legal work are our cooperating attorneys who are generous with both their time and expertise. In our 2003-2004 year, the following attorneys worked on ACLU of Utah cases:

Brian Barnard
Stephen Clark
Mark Lopez
Sharon McGowan
Richard Van Wagoner
ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Association of Federal Defenders

Legal Advocacy: Public Schools

Our public schools are unique settings for civil liberties; they are where young people learn about their constitutional rights and see firsthand how those rights are affected by the actions of their teachers and school administrators. Throughout the school year, situations arise that may compromise students’ civil rights and civil liberties, and as students and their families attempt to resolve problems, they often seek assistance from the ACLU of Utah. As is evident from the following summaries, issues involving the rights of lesbian and gay students continue to dominate our advocacy efforts in the public schools. During our 2003-2004 year, we provided support to a variety of students in constitutional quandaries, including:

• A lesbian couple who were admitted to their high school prom yet were prohibited from promenading with the other prom couples and presenting themselves to their family and community as a couple.

• Two girls ages six and eight who, along with all other girls, were excluded from an invitational wrestling tournament to which their city wrestling team had been invited. In support, their male teammates withdrew from the tournament.

• A high school student who was hassled first by a school security guard at an assembly and later by his history teacher when he chose to exercise his First Amendment right not to say the pledge of allegiance.

• A gay student who felt unsafe in his rural middle school because of severe verbal abuse by his classmates. Neither he nor his family could get the administration to punish the students who were harassing him or take other steps to address the problem.

• A high school student who was suspended after several of his classmates protested his anti-war t-shirt. Significantly, the students who protested his message were wearing “Support our Troops’ t-shirts and they did not receive any punishment.

• A disabled elementary school student who, despite repeated requests from her mother that school administrators take measures to protect her daughter, was continually harassed by other students.

• A sixteen-year-old African American girl who, along with her other teammates, was sexually harassed by her high school basketball coach. He also made inappropriate comments related to her race.

• An openly gay student who argued that administrators at his new high school were unfairly applying a school code prohibiting public displays of affection and had failed to respond to his harassment complaints.

• Students at several high schools who faced resistance from school administrators when they attempted to form Gay/Straight Alliances.

Other Legal Advocacy

Every year, ACLU of Utah staff and interns carefully review hundreds of civil liberties complaints. It is always our hope that we can address problems without having to rely on litigation, and whenever possible, we attempt to resolve reported grievances by setting up meetings with appropriate government representatives, providing resources and proper referrals, and drafting letters detailing the constitutional issues of specific complaints. The following are just a few examples of our non-school related advocacy efforts during our 2003-2004 year:

Church and state

In March, several Salem City residents contacted us because their city was using government resources to sponsor and promote LDS Church activities. Specifically, we learned that in conjunction with advertising for its annual Salem Days Celebration, the city had promoted an LDS Church “Family Fireside” in the city newsletter, which was included with city utility bills. After we contacted the Salem City mayor, the city drafted a policy that provided some guidelines for determining what information is included in its newsletter.

Criminal justice

Last winter, we received a complaint against the Salt Lake Valley Detention Center alleging that the facility had not notified parents or legal guardians of juveniles who were admitted into custody. Concerned for the due process rights of these young people, we contacted that facility, the Salt Lake City Police Department, and the Salt Lake Division of Youth Corrections to remind them of their legal obligations when detaining minors. The detention center and others took the complaints very seriously and a process is now in place for investigating future allegations of these types of due process violations.

Right to counsel

In October, we were contacted by a Brigham City man who had been told that if he did not pay a court-ordered fine within the next few days, he would receive a three-year prison sentence. The fine was associated with citations he had received for several misdemeanor offenses, and in challenging the citations, he had requested and been denied counsel. In a letter, we reminded the judge in charge of the case that a threat of incarceration without counsel is in clear violation of a 2002 ruling from the U. S. Supreme Court.


Last fall, we received a call from a woman who had applied for SSI through the State of Utah’s Disability Determination Services. She learned that as part of the application process, the department had sent out a letter to one of her references, which listed her personal information, including her social security number and birth date. According to her, that information was later used by the reference to obtain a cellular phone in her name. We contacted the department to ensure that they appropriately handle applicants’ personal information.

Due process

In September, we were contacted by a Cedar City resident who was concerned about the breadth of a nuisance ordinance the city had just passed. Her specific concern was that the ordinance allowed the warrantless removal of personal property that was considered a nuisance, as well as an eviction from private property if the nuisance was not abated. We contacted the Cedar City attorney to let him know that we would be monitoring the application of the ordinance and that we may challenge any warrantless seizures of property.

Police practices

In May, the Utah Supreme Court limited the purpose of administrative vehicle checkpoints to the promotion of highway safety and stated that there was, “no justification for allowing the state to use the interest in enforcing the drivers license requirement as a predicate for permitting officers to conduct investigations for which they would otherwise need a warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion.” Before the Memorial Day weekend, which in Utah, is celebrated each year by vehicle checkpoints and subsequent due process complaints to the ACLU of Utah, we wrote to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office to inform them of the ruling.

Free speech

In April, we advocated on behalf of a Park City woman who was approached by local law enforcement after she chose to protest the war in Iraq by painting a peace sign on a United States flag and hanging it in front of her private residence. Police officers informed her that she was violating the state statute prohibiting the abuse of a flag. Although she was not charged under the unconstitutional and unenforceable statute, we are extremely concerned about the chilling effect of uniformed police officers questioning a person’s right to engage in constitutionally protected political speech.

Public Education

The best protection against government abuse of power is a citizenry that has a thorough knowledge of its constitutional rights. It is for this reason that our public education and outreach efforts are as important, if not more so, as our work in the courts and the legislature. Last year, the ACLU of Utah had a strong public presence, and by participating in presentations, staffing booths at community events, granting press interviews, and developing a monthly email newsletter, we were able to express a unique and important viewpoint to thousands of people. At times, we were provided with unexpected educational opportunities, such as when our executive director and a class of West High School students were told by LDS Church security guards that they were not to discuss free speech on the Main Street Plaza. However, it was generally through the hard work of the ACLU of Utah staff that we were able to develop these opportunities and inform so many people about how different issues affect their civil rights and liberties.

During our 2003-2004 year, ACLU of Utah staff:

• Gave over forty presentations to a wide range of audiences, including the Salt Lake City Public Library staff, delegates from Turkey’s Ministry of Civil Liberties and Civic Education, lawyers at the Utah State Bar Convention, the Utah Humanists, and to students at the University of Utah, Utah Valley State College, Brigham Young University, Weber State University, and Westminster College;

• Published two opinion pieces in the Salt Lake Tribune;

• Developed a monthly email newsletter, which is currently received by over five hundred people;

• Were quoted more than 200 times and were referenced about 650 times—an average of more than twice a day—in Utah newspapers;

• Granted more than seventy interviews to radio and television stations; and

• Staffed a half-dozen booths at various community events, including KRCL Day in the Park, Political Awareness Day at Westminster College, Gay Pride Day, the Ninth & Ninth Street Fair, and the Salt Lake City Muslim Cultural Festival.

Legislative Report

The General Session of the Utah State Legislature is traditionally a frustrating experience for defenders of civil rights and liberties, and 2004 was no exception. The ACLU of Utah was aided by a group of dedicated citizen lobbyists who spent countless hours attending legislative committee hearings and floor debates, and this, along with the legal research of our staff attorney and law clerks, helped us track and take action on several important bills. Throughout the session, ACLU of Utah staff testified at legislative committee hearings and submitted letters to legislators and the governor in an effort to oppose unconstitutional bills. Following is a summary of some of the issues we worked on during the 2004 legislative session:

Law does away with some asset forfeiture reforms

Four years ago, Utah voters passed the “Utah Property Protection Act,” which instituted much-needed reforms to the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws and established due process protections for property owners. Unfortunately, during their 2004 session, state legislators repealed some of these reforms through the passage of SB 175, “Protection of Private Lawfully Obtained Property.” Rather than funding public education, as mandated by the Utah Property Protection Act, income from seized assets is now available for crime prevention and law enforcement. In other words, police departments once again can financially benefit from the assets they seize.

The death penalty remains in Utah

Utah, along with thirty-seven other states, still allows capital punishment, and sadly, state lawmakers seem far from abolishing what the ACLU believes is the ultimate denial of civil liberties. In this year’s death penalty legislation, lawmakers did away with execution by firing squad, but only after the Utah Sentencing Commission ensured that the bill did not run contrary to the LDS Church’s doctrine of blood atonement (HB 180, “Death Penalty Amendments’). SB 80, “Capital Punishment Amendments,” prohibits executions from taking place on Sundays, Mondays, or legal holidays. Legislators also passed SB 49, “Competency to be Executed.” Supported by the Disability Law Center, SB 49 prohibits the execution of inmates whose mental states do not allow them to understand why or how they are being punished. Importantly, the bill prohibits the forcible medication of inmates for the sole purpose of restoring their competency for execution.

Bill proposed needed reforms to Utah’s criminal justice system

It is unfortunate that one of the few bills that sought to significantly strengthen our civil liberties failed. SB 21, “Drug Offenders Reform Act,” was the result of years of research and planning, and it sought to create a new process within the criminal justice system for dealing with drug addiction. While 85 percent of all offenders have substance abuse problems, only one-third of them receive treatment in prison, despite the fact that untreated substance abuse leads to high recidivism rates. SB 21 would have allowed judges to sentence qualified drug addicts to substance abuse treatment as a condition of their probation. While a large fiscal note kept the bill from passing the house, the governor indicated she might address this problem by allocating money in the budget for these reforms, thus giving the bill a better chance of passing next year.

Internet filters are now in some public libraries

HB 341, “Children’s Internet Protection Act,” prohibits a public library from receiving state funds unless library administrators install filtering software to block access to images harmful to minors. While this bill is in line with a federal law that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was constitutional in June 2003, the ACLU remains concerned about the ineffectiveness of filtering software programs, which often “overblock” and prohibit adult library patrons from accessing permissible material. Utah’s law allows librarians to disable the filter at the request of an adult library patron.

Three bills attempt to regulate expressive activities

HB 79, “Right to Display Flag at Personal Residence,” ensures that renters or residents of mobile home parks have the right to display the national or state flag. We are concerned that the law will be applied to prohibit other forms of protected speech, such as other flags, banners, or political signs.

HB 239, “Sexually Explicit Business and Escort Service Tax,” applies a 10 percent tax on income made by escort services and nude dance clubs. Lawmakers did not demonstrate any compelling state interest in applying such a heavy tax on one type of business, and consequently, the new law poses free speech concerns. ACLU of Utah board member Andrew McCullough is currently challenging the law in court.

HB 199, “Disruption of Activities In or Near School Building,” makes it a misdemeanor if a person near a school disrupts school activities and remains in place despite being asked to leave. We were concerned with the initial draft of the bill, which would have curbed expressive activity protected by the First Amendment. We are still worried that the bill lacks objective standards for determining what activities near a school building are prohibited.

Same sex couples are prohibited from formalizing their relationships

It wasn’t enough that Utah was the first state in the country to pass a law prohibiting the recognition of same sex marriages if those marriages were formalized in other states. Lawmakers went two steps further, passing both SB 24, “Marriage Recognition Policy,” and HJR 25, “Joint Resolution on Marriage.” SB 24 refuses to recognize, enforce, or give any legal effect to “any legal status, rights, benefits, or duties that are substantially equivalent to those provided under Utah law to a man and a woman because they are married” to same sex couples. HJR 25 seeks to amend Utah’s constitution by adding that “marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman … no other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.” By singling out lesbians and gay men, both the statute and the amendment pose equal protection concerns. This November, Utahns will vote on HJR 25, now renamed Amendment 3.

Reproductive rights unconstitutionally restricted

SB 68, “Prohibition of Public Funding for Abortion,” prohibits the use of public funds for abortion services except in very limited situations. The law, which took effect in May, has numerous problems: it violates the constitution’s supremacy clause by imposing restrictions that are more restrictive than the federal Medicaid requirements; it does not allow women to terminate pregnancies when there are grave fetal defects; and, by stating that no direct or indirect funds may be used for abortion, causes confusion about who can and cannot perform these procedures. Another law, SB 69, “Partial Birth Abortion Amendments,” bans a range of safe abortion procedures and balks at a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision by failing to include an exception to protect the health of the pregnant woman. 

Laws seek to strengthen data privacy

HB 25, “Governmental Internet Information Privacy Act,” requires government websites to post privacy statements on the day that personally identifiable information is collected on that site, and with some exceptions, prohibits court websites from displaying personally identifiable information.

HB 323, “Spyware Regulation,” allows an action for damages to be brought against anyone who installs spyware—software that delivers advertisements to a computer based on the websites visited and other user information collected—on a computer without the user’s knowledge or consent.

HB 356, “Halt Utah’s Participation in MATRIX,” HJR 21, “Resolution Demanding State’s Participation in MATRIX End Immediately,” and HB 348, “Privacy Amendments,” all sought to end Utah’s participation in MATRIX, a controversial law enforcement database containing information about individuals from both government and private sources. Although all three bills failed, Utah’s involvement in MATRIX ended last March, when Governor Olene Walker pulled our state out of the program until adequate oversight and appropriate privacy safeguards are in place.

Safe and Free

During our 2003-2004 year, a single issue dominated the work of both the national ACLU and the ACLU of Utah: post-9/11 civil liberties. Just months after the terrorist attacks, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act, which granted the government extraordinary new law enforcement powers. Two and a half years later, the government is still using the terrorist attacks as an excuse to seek and obtain new police powers that not only are unjustified, but that also threaten our notions of due process and privacy. Through public education, policy work, legal advocacy, and coalition work, the ACLU of Utah played an active role in the battle to keep America both safe and free.

Public education

Members of Congress continue to propose PATRIOT Act-like legislation, and as their constituents, we must not allow them to unnecessarily sacrifice our civil liberties in the war against terrorism. Because the issues are so complex, we knew that public education would be critical, and in 2003-2004, we did the following:

• Sponsored or participated in fourteen presentations, speeches, and panel discussions on post-9/11 civil liberties. These took place in a variety of different forums, including community colleges and universities, churches, the Utah State Bar, the Davis County League of Women Voters, the Utah Library Association, and the Sugarhouse Kiwanis Club.

• Featured keynote speaker Nancy Chang, author of Silencing Political Dissent: How Post-September 11 Anti-Terrorism Measures Threaten Our Civil Liberties, at our Bill of Rights fundraising dinner.

• Co-sponsored with the Salt Lake City Film Center a free screening of the documentary Persons of Interest, which features testimonials from several of the thousands of Muslim Americans detained after 9/11. 350 people attended the film and the subsequent panel discussion with the filmmaker and representatives from the ACLU of Utah and the Utah Islamic Society.

• Granted hour-long interviews on several public radio shows and had numerous media contacts.

• Authored a Salt Lake Tribune opinion piece and a City Weekly article on the PATRIOT Act.

• Staffed booths at several events specifically about post-9/11 civil liberties.

• Developed special web pages about the PATRIOT Act and the MATRIX database surveillance program. Our web page on MATRIX received thousands of hits during a very short period of time.

State legislature

During the 2004 legislative session, we joined a diverse coalition in supporting HJR 10, “Joint Resolution Reaffirming the State of Utah’s Commitment to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” Proposed because of concerns about the laws and executive orders promulgated since 9/11 undermining our civil liberties, the resolution urged the federal government to design security measures without infringing on civil liberties and requested that Utah’s congressional delegation periodically advise their constituents about efforts to preserve our liberties. The Utah Eagle Forum, the Utah Progressive Network, the League of Women Voters, the Citizens Education Project, and the Conservative Caucus also supported the resolution, which ultimately failed.

U.S. Senate field hearings

Through our coalition efforts, we were able to convince Utah Senator Orrin Hatch of the need to hold field hearings for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Hatch is chair. Entitled Preventing and Responding to Acts of Terrorism: A Review of Current Law, the hearings were specifically about the PATRIOT Act. We worked with our national office to prepare testimony criticizing the act and helped organize the hearing. Dani Eyer, executive director of the ACLU of Utah, testified at the hearing, which took place on April 14, 2004.


In November 2003, the ACLU of Utah sent a public records request to the Utah Department of Public Safety asking for all documents regarding MATRIX, the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. MATRIX is a privately-maintained, state-administered, federally funded database that seeks to combine confidential information from local and state agencies, such as criminal backgrounds, motor vehicle registrations, and driver’s license records, with hundreds of publicly available databases to create billions of records that law enforcement can easily search. Unclear in the proposal is how individuals will know what personal information is included in the database and what they can do to change incorrect information. The public outcry against what many saw as an invasion of privacy led to Governor Olene Walker’s decision last March to halt Utah’s participation in MATRIX until proper oversight is established.

“No-fly” list

The “no-fly” list is managed by the Transportation Security Administration and distributed to all airlines and security personnel with instructions to stop, question, or conduct extra searches of people suspected of being threats to aviation. Unfortunately, many innocent travelers who pose no safety risk whatsoever are incorrectly subjected to the public humiliation of being repeatedly treated like terrorists. In January, the ACLU of Utah filed an open records request to obtain documents related to the “no-fly” list or other watch lists currently being used at the Salt Lake International Airport. On April 6, 2004, the national ACLU used this information as well as records from other states to file a class-action lawsuit challenging the government’s use of “no-fly” lists.

Ashcroft’s visit

In August 2003, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft visited Salt Lake City as part of his national tour promoting the PATRIOT Act. As he was speaking to law enforcement representatives, over 150 people protested outside. The ACLU of Utah took a part in organizing the rally and provided neutral legal observers for the event. 

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Financial Report

As a private, non-profit organization, the ACLU of Utah receives no government funding and never charges its clients for legal representation. Our existence depends entirely upon private donations, foundation grants, court-awarded legal fees from successful cases, and membership fees from Utahns who are dedicated to preserving fundamental civil liberties.

The following is the combined ACLU of Utah Union and Foundation audited financial report for April 1, 2003 through March 30, 2004:


Contributions and membership $194,572.00
Grants $165,000.00
Legal awards* $16,856.00
Interest and miscellaneous $407.00 
TOTAL INCOME $380,535.00


Education $153,000.00
Legal $93,000.00 
Management and development $56,000.00 
Legislative work $10,405.00
TOTAL EXPENSES $312,405.00

*$166,329.00 of one-time legal awards from the Main Street and Edwards cases were used to create the ACLU of Utah’s First Amendment Fund, of which no more than 10 percent a year shall be used for our annual budget.

About the ACLU of Utah

The American Civil Liberties Union, founded in 1920, is a nationwide, nonpartisan organization dedicated to working in the courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by both the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

The ACLU of Utah was chartered in 1953 to work on constitutional issues that are pertinent to those living in this state. Our priorities include freedom of speech, expression, and association, freedom of religion, including the separation of church and state, the right to privacy, safe prison and jail conditions, and equal protection and due process of the laws.


Dani Eyer, Executive Director
Margaret Plane, Staff Attorney (January 2004 – present) 
Janelle Eurick, Staff Attorney (through December 2004)
Carol Gnade, Development Director
Reinard Knutsen, Office Manager
Stephanie Peterson, Projects Coordinator
Cori Sutherland, Communications Director

Legal Clerks and Interns

Bryan Banks, Luisanna Carillo-Rubio, Nikki Christensen, Tracy Cooper, Neil Crabtree, Christinia Crippes, Carolyn Erschler, Nikki Konesavanh, Alexandra Parvaz, Nora Pincus, Ted Reed, Paul Sackstedder, and Meredith Strong

Executive Committee

Laurie Wood, President
Karen Denton, Vice President
Robert Wood, Treasurer
Lincoln Hobbs, Legal Panel Director
Jill Sheinberg, National Board Representative
Tim Chambless, At Large Member 
Sue Marquardt, At Large Member


Board of Directors

Peggy Battin, Christine Contestable, Roberto Culas, Beverly Dalley, Emma Gross, Marc Hoenig, Lee Martinez, Andy McCullough, Rick Nosseir, Jennifer Schwartz, and David Tundermann

Legal Panel

Erika Birch, Dianna Cannon, Stephen Clark, Andrew Deiss, Russell Hathaway, Akiko Kawamura, Derek Langton, Cathy Roberts, Trystan Smith, Karen Stam, Mary Woodhead, and Linda Jones

Contact Information

355 North 300 West #1Salt Lake City, UT 84103 Phone: (801) 521-9862 Fax: (801) 532-2850 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. www.acluutah.org

Thank you to Patrick J. Brennan, pbc media, for a zillion dollars worth of computer and technical support.

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