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ACLU of Utah 1999 Annual Report

21 August 2000 Published in Annual Reports

At times, it is difficult not to be discouraged by the current status of civil liberties. It seems that both nationally and locally, all of our constitutional protections are up for grabs. There are the constant setbacks in the long fight for basic civil rights for lesbians and gay men; cases before the U.S. Supreme Court about issues we thought were resolved long ago; and the obvious fact that despite our civil rights laws, racial and ethnic minorities are far from achieving equality in our legal system.


Dear Friends of the ACLU of Utah

At times, it is difficult not to be discouraged by the current status of civil liberties. It seems that both nationally and locally, all of our constitutional protections are up for grabs. There are the constant setbacks in the long fight for basic civil rights for lesbians and gay men; cases before the U.S. Supreme Court about issues we thought were resolved long ago; and the obvious fact that despite our civil rights laws, racial and ethnic minorities are far from achieving equality in our legal system.

However, there are significant moments that offer us hope and a startling clarity about our mission. In outlining our activities last year, the following report describes some of the wins and losses in Utah’s constitutional battles. From our work in the courts, the legislature, and state administrations, we dealt with a wide range of issues, and it is heartening to see that through our efforts, we were able to have a positive impact on Utah policies and laws.

What we cannot include in this report are the many quieter, behind the scenes resolutions that never make the evening news, and yet are just as encouraging as our policy successes. Such incidents are best exemplified by the following thank-you note, which stated, “Where, on God’s green earth, could I have gone for support if you weren’t in existence? You must always stay where you are to give hope and help to us ‘little guys.’ Had you not been there to hear me, I don’t think I would have had the strength to stand firm.”

The accomplishments of the ACLU of Utah are yours, since it is our supporters – those who volunteer their time, contribute financially, and talk to their friends about us – who ensure that this organization will always exist in this state in order to help the “little guys.” Thank you for your commitment to our important work.

Carol Gnade 
Executive Director

Mission Statement

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 1958 to work on constitutional issues that are pertinent to those living in this state. Our priorities include freedom of speech and expression, the separation of church and state, freedom of religion and association, the right to privacy, safe prison and jail conditions, and equal protection and due process of the laws.

1999 Highlights

At the ACLU of Utah, we work in a variety of different ways to fulfill our mission, and, in an effort to resolve issues in the most timely manner possible, we accomplish much of our work at the administrative level. The following highlights illustrate our attempts to seek a balance between formulating proactive approaches to ensuring the rights of all Utahns, and responding to immediate threats to civil liberties.

The Division of Child and Family Services Passes a Discriminatory Adoption Policy

In January, the board of directors of the state Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) voted 7-2 to approve a policy restricting state adoptions. Declaring that all adults in an adoptive home must be related by blood, adoption, or legal marriage, the policy effectively prohibits lesbian, gay, and unmarried heterosexual couples from adopting children in state custody. In response, the ACLU of Utah, along with nineteen other organizations and individuals, submitted written statements opposing the policy, noting that it unnecessarily and arbitrarily eliminates good adoptive homes, and is grounded in an irrational fear and prejudice towards same-sex and unmarried couples. National child welfare organizations, such as the Child Welfare League of America, the American Psychological Association, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children, all opposed the policy of rejecting potential foster and adoptive parents solely because of their sexual orientation or marital status. Not a single letter was submitted in support of the policy.

Despite the overwhelming public opposition, the policy was formally adopted as an administrative rule, which has the same effect as state law. In October, Utah Children, a child advocacy group, sued DCFS because the rule decreases foster children’s chances of finding permanent homes. One month later, we filed a successful motion to intervene in the case on behalf of the three adult plaintiffs Colleen Sandor, Steven Lazarus, and Michael Splitt, who, because of the arbitrary and unfair terms of the policy, are all denied the opportunity to offer loving homes to children in state custody.

Unfortunately, it is evident that our lawsuit is only the beginning of what is quickly becoming a particularly long, mean-spirited, and unnecessary battle over this issue. Despite the fact that in Utah, there is currently an enormous shortage of foster families and that the division has been under federal court scrutiny for failing to place children in permanent homes quickly enough, the DCFS board has proposed extending these restrictions to foster care. And Utah lawmakers have promised to introduce legislation during the 2000 session to extend these restrictions to private as well as state adoptions.

School District Affirms its New Anti-Discrimination Policy

The long struggle for the expression of gay-positive viewpoints in the Salt Lake School District ended in November when U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins concluded that the students had achieved virtually everything they sought. The conflict began in 1995 when a group of students at East High School attempted to form a school club called the Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA). Its purpose, like that of hundreds of other similar clubs that have long been meeting in schools across the country, was to provide a safe and welcoming forum in which students could discuss important issues facing lesbian and gay youth. The GSA was no different than other high school student-initiated groups, all of which are protected by the 1984 Equal Access Act (EAA), mandating that any school that receives federal funding and has some non-curricular clubs, must give all non-curricular clubs equal access to the school’s resources.

Unfortunately, the Salt Lake School District did not want to allow the GSA to meet. In order to block student speech it considered offensive and, at the same time, maintain compliance with the EAA, Salt Lake became the first school district in the country to take the drastic step of banning all student clubs not related to the curriculum. In response, the ACLU of Utah filed a lawsuit on behalf of GSA members Keysha Barnes and Ivy Fox, arguing that the district’s actions violated the EAA since some non-curricular student groups were still allowed to meet. Our complaint also charged that the district’s policy regarding school clubs was evidence of a broader, unwritten, but very real policy prohibiting the expression of gay-positive viewpoints in any school setting, and it therefore violated the students’ First Amendment rights as well.

In October, Judge Jenkins agreed with us that the district violated the EAA during the 1997-98 school year when it did not allow the GSA to meet on the same terms and conditions as another East High non-curricular club. More importantly, in a November pre-trial hearing, the district stated in no uncertain terms that students have a First Amendment right to express gay-positive views in approved school groups. For the first time, the district referred to an administrative rule issued in May 1999 by the State Office of Education prohibiting discrimination against students and teachers on the basis of sexual orientation. This is an extremely significant consequence of our lawsuit, and the new state policy will help administrators, teachers, and students create a forum for gay-positive viewpoints that will counter the overwhelmingly negative atmosphere that lesbian and gay youth often face.

The 2002 Winter Olympic Games Pose Unique Civil Liberties Concerns

Several months before Salt Lake City was awarded the Winter Olympic Games, the ACLU of Utah joined low-income, disability, and minority advocates to form Salt Lake Impact 2002 & Beyond. Since 1995, this coalition has expressed concern about the impact the games will have on the residents and taxpayers of Utah, and has advocated for a responsible, community-wide Olympic event that will benefit all Utahns rather than a select few.

In an effort to clarify the civil liberties issues at stake in hosting this international event, we worked with the Utah Housing Coalition and Salt Lake Impact to organize a public forum featuring Gerry Weber, the legal director for the ACLU of Georgia, and Anita Beatty, the executive director of the Atlanta Taskforce for the Homeless. The forum provided our organization and the community with an excellent opportunity to learn what problems Weber and Beatty faced, and what in hindsight they wished they had done to prepare for such an event. We furthered our outreach by dedicating our fall newsletter to this issue, and in a series of articles, we outlined the reasons why the Salt Lake Organizing Committee must be accountable to the public and examined how the massive Olympic security effort can negatively impact our constituents.

After defining the ways in which the upcoming Olympic event has the potential to threaten civil liberties, we began meeting with SLOC authorities and members of the Olympic Public Safety Command to determine how we can work together now to address complaints that may arise prior to and during the international event. Our work has made it clear to us that it is not at all too early to look for solutions to these difficult issues, and in the next two years, we will continue to build upon the important foundation we’ve laid this year.

New Cases

First Unitarian Church v. Salt Lake City Corporation Free Speech and Separation of Church and State

In April, the Salt Lake City Council voted 5-2 to sell the downtown block of Main Street between North and South Temple to the LDS Church. Unbeknownst to city residents, it also sold the public’s First Amendment rights, immediately transforming the block into a space in which the Mormon Church was granted the absolute and exclusive right to broadcast its own messages and, at the same time, ban all other viewpoints.

The Salt Lake City Planning Commission approved the transaction with the condition that the space be regulated like a public park. However, the final documents included a public easement in which the city gave the LDS Church unbridled discretion to prohibit, among other things, “loitering, assembling, … demonstrating, picketing, distributing literature, … erecting signs or displays, using loudspeakers or other devices to project music, sound or spoken messages, engaging in any … offensive, indecent, … lewd or disorderly speech, dress or conduct …” on Main Street. Importantly, these prohibitions apply only to members of the public. Under the conditions of the sale, the LDS Church can make exclusive use of the property for expressive purposes, “including, without limitation, the distribution of literature, the erection of signs and displays by [the LDS Church], and the projection of music and spoken messages by [the LDS Church].” Such one-sided restrictions violate both the free speech and the Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment.

Also, by granting the LDS Church absolute control over the views expressed and the nature of the conduct permitted on the property, the city has delegated some of its governmental powers to a church. After all, it will be church security and not the Salt Lake City Police Department who will determine when a visitor has violated the terms of the easement and impose punishment for that violation. Even if an easement were drafted with conditions consistent with a traditional public forum, the First Amendment’s demand for the strict separation of church and state does not allow the city to grant this traditional state function to a church.

In a lawsuit filed in November on behalf of the First Unitarian Church, Utahns for Fairness, and the Utah National Organization for Women, we maintain that because of Main Street’s unique role in our city’s history and its ongoing use as a public thoroughfare, it continues to be a public forum.

Burton v. Exam Central Industrial Age Discrimination

For the first time in the ACLU of Utah’s history, the Utah Supreme Court requested that our organization file an amicus curiae brief on a case before the Court. At issue in Burton v. Exam Center Industrial is whether Utah employers with fewer than fifteen employees can discriminate against their employees on the basis of age. Like its federal counterpart, the Utah Anti-Discrimination Act exempts businesses that employ fewer than fifteen people from its regulatory scheme. In June, we filed a brief in which we argued that the strong public policy of the State of Utah prohibits age discrimination in employment, regardless of the size of the employer, and we therefore urged the court to recognize an age discrimination claim against small employers based on that strong public policy. In this way, all employees, regardless of the size of the company they work for, will be protected from invidious discrimination and will be judged solely by their willingness and ability to do their jobs.

Other Cases

Femedeer v. Department of Corrections Ex Post Facto and Due Process Violations

During their 1998 session, the Utah State Legislature passed a law requiring the Department of Corrections (DOC) to maintain a registry of persons convicted of certain sex offenses and to make that registry available to the public. The DOC chose to satisfy their statutory obligations by posting the sex offender registry on their official website, thus significantly increasing the public’s access to this information. Femedeer (a pseudonym) was convicted of an offense covered by the law, but successfully completed the terms of his sentence and registered as a sex offender long before the effective date of the new law. In September 1998, we filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf in which we claimed that publishing his registry information via the Internet constitutes ex post facto punishment and deprives him of his constitutional rights without due process of law.

In a ruling issued January 1999, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball agreed with us and required the DOC to identify and implement necessary “procedural safeguards” to ensure compliance with constitutional requirements. However, his decision also improperly limited the ex post facto cut-off date to include only those individuals who had been convicted of a sexual offense and successfully completed their sentence before the statute became law in July 1998. In our appeal, we maintain that ex post facto protections must apply to everyone who committed a sexual offense before the law took effect, even if their conviction occurred after that date. The state also appealed the ruling, and at this point, both appeals are pending.

Humane Society of Utah v. Utah Wildlife Board Open and Public Meetings

In September 1998, the Utah Wildlife Board issued a press release and held a press conference to announce its unanimous support for Proposition 5, the successful ballot proposition that amended the Utah Constitution to require any initiative related to the taking of wildlife to pass by a two-thirds supermajority vote. As a state agency, the Wildlife Board must abide by Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act. The board’s endorsement, therefore, came as a surprise to groups opposing the proposition, as well as to the media, since it had never decided to endorse Proposition 5 in any public meeting. In October 1998, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Humane Society of Utah, the Predator Education Fund, the High Uintahs Preservation Council, and the Utah Society of Professional Journalists to ensure that public officials act in accordance with the open meetings law when they issue statements on topics of significant public concern.

Guido v. Utah State Fair Corporation Free Speech and Right to Petition the Government

Last fall, John Slevin and John Guido sought to circulate petitions at the Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City. Fair officials charged Slevin with criminal trespassing and demanded that the petitioners purchase space at the fair for a cost of $350 to $400, thus creating a situation in which the right to petition the government depends upon one’s ability to pay a substantial registration fee. The criminal charges were later dropped. In October 1998, we filed suit against state fair officials and others. In 1999, a similar case against the Salt Lake County Fair was settled favorably out of court.

Van Gorden v. Utah State Fair Corporation Free Speech and Free Exercise of Religion

In 1996, after years of being arbitrarily excluded from the Utah State Fair, Kurt and Cindy Van Gorden were finally allowed to set up a booth to display the religious books they publish. However, they were accosted by fair officials and several officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department, and forcibly evicted solely because fair officials and patrons disliked their religious message. Cindy Van Gorden was physically assaulted, and the Van Gordens’ property was improperly seized. In September 1998, the ACLU of Utah filed a lawsuit against fair officials and individual police officers for their unconstitutional and illegal actions, and in 1999, we defeated defendants’ various motions to dismiss the case and began discovery.

Skultin v. Bushnell Unlawful Search

In March 1996, Roy Skultin, Darcy Quimby, and Kellyjo Johnson were traveling east on Interstate 70 when they were pulled over by Utah Highway Patrol trooper Lance Bushnell. After telling them they were being pulled over for attempting to pass a camper, Trooper Bushnell ordered Skultin to exit the vehicle and then interrogated him about everything from his destination to his past criminal record. He gave Skultin a field sobriety test and continued his interrogation. Trooper Bushnell then requested and was denied permission to search Skultin’s vehicle. He ordered the two female passengers out of the car, searched the car, the trunk of the car, the luggage, both passengers’ purses, and Skultin’s wallet. After Skultin and his passengers were detained for nearly 90 minutes, they were allowed to proceed on their trip. Nothing illegal had been found, no arrest had been made, and no citation had been issued. In October 1996, we filed a complaint on their behalf. Discovery is completed and our summary judgment motion is pending.

Foote v. Spiegel Unlawful Search

Kristin Foote has a mild form of cerebral palsy and a slight speech impediment. On Mother’s Day, 1994 while driving to a picnic with her 4-year-old daughter, Foote was stopped by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper on pretextual grounds. Based upon Foote’s speech pattern and a green tint on her tongue, the trooper concluded she was driving under the influence of drugs. She was detained, arrested, and later strip-searched. On a motion for summary judgment, U.S. District Judge David Winder held that the initial stop was reasonable under the circumstances but that the detention and strip-search were unconstitutional. The 10th Circuit affirmed Judge Winder’s ruling on the strip-search, but reversed his holding on the detention. Foote also sought damages for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The case was reassigned to Judge Tena Campbell, and our February jury trial resulted in a no cause verdict on the claims against the Highway Patrol trooper for illegal stop and detention, and in an award of only $1 nominal damages for the illegal strip-search ordered by another trooper and carried out by Davis County. We have appealed the jury’s no cause verdicts on the stop and detention, as well as the court’s finding for qualified immunity for the Highway Patrol trooper and the nominal damages for the strip-search. Importantly, as a result of our legal actions, both Davis County and the Utah Highway Patrol have rewritten their policies and procedures, which now prohibit strip-searches of everyone arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of drugs.

Case Resolutions

Larson v. Provo School District Religious Discrimination

After a successful career as a correctional officer, Charles Larson decided he wanted to help young people, so he went back to school and became a public school teacher. In his spare time, he pursued scholarly religious studies from his traditional Christian perspective. Shortly after publishing a scholarly exegesis of the Book of Abraham, considered by LDS Church faithfuls to be ancient scripture, Larson was terminated from his teaching position in the Provo School District, ostensibly as part of a reduction in force. Some time later, Larson became aware of information that indicated that his termination was in fact based on religious discrimination. Upon a full investigation of his employment discrimination complaint, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concurred. Nevertheless, the district refused to mediate or even to speak with Larson, so he approached us for help. In January 1999, we filed a complaint for violation of Title VII as well as the United States Constitution. Happily, by providing a copy of the complaint to the Utah Attorney General’s office and engaging in open dialogue with defense counsel, we were able to resolve Larson’s case to his satisfaction out of court.

Citizens of Nebo School District v. Weaver Lesbian and Gay Rights

Wendy Weaver is a long-time teacher at Spanish Fork High School who received national attention when she successfully sued the Nebo County School District for making her sign a gag order prohibiting her from discussing her sexual orientation in or outside of the classroom. However, because Weaver had the courage to stand up to such blatant discrimination, a group of Utah County citizens filed a lawsuit in December 1997 seeking to have her banned from teaching altogether. We defended her from its groundless claims, and in March 1999, Fourth District Judge Ray Harding granted our motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims, and dismissed all but two of the ten counts of the complaint. The plaintiffs voluntarily agreed to dismiss the remaining two counts. Although the plaintiffs had indicated that they wanted to appeal the dismissed claims, they have not done so, and it appears that the legal attacks against Weaver have finally come to an end.

Roe v. Utah County Privacy

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. In 1996, Movie Buffs filed action against Utah County alleging First and Fourth Amendment violations. We filed a motion to intervene in that lawsuit on behalf of three individuals who believed their names appeared 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 our 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 completed. 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 seized lists be destroyed to protect the customers’ privacy rights.

Valdez v. McPheters Unlawful Search

In December 1993, FBI Agent Samuel McPheters and BIA Agent Greg Littlewhiteman entered and searched the home of Rosanna Valdez in search of her adult son. Although he had not lived with her for over 10 years and the officers had no search warrant, the officers searched Valdez’s home not once, but twice, in an unsuccessful attempt to locate her son. In 1994, we filed a complaint on behalf of Valdez arguing that during both searches, she was unreasonably seized (arrested) and subjected to an illegal custodial interrogation. The officers filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming they were immune from liability for the searches because it was reasonable for them to believe that Valdez’s son was in the home. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, U.S. District Judge Thomas Greene granted the officers’ motion for qualified immunity and dismissed the search claims.

In March 1997, a trial was held on the issue of the illegal seizure, and the jury returned a no cause verdict. We subsequently filed an appeal with the 10th Circuit Court on the issue of qualified immunity for the search, and the court heard oral argument in September 1998. In a 2-to-1 decision issued April 1999, the 10th Circuit upheld the District Court’s ruling on qualified immunity. For the first time, the 10th Circuit adopted the rule that to justify a search pursuant to an arrest warrant, the police must have reasonable belief that: (1) the subject of the warrant lives in the home; and (2) the subject is present in the home at the time of the search. Such a rule had previously been adopted in other circuits. The dissenting judge found that the officers had not met the second criteria by their claims that the suspect led a “nocturnal lifestyle,” and he expressed a well-founded concern that overzealous officers could use such lifestyle stereotypes to justify almost any warrantless search.

Cooperating Attorneys

Jensie Anderson 
Brian Barnard 
Ralph Chamness 
Craig Cook 
Laura Milliken Gray 
Nathan Hult 
Mark Lopez 
Andrew McCullough 
Peggy Tomsic 
Richard Van Wagoner 
ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project 
Disability Law Center 
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund 
National Center for Lesbian Rights

Legislative Issues

The decisions made during the annual session of the Utah State Legislature have a lasting impact on our communities. As new laws are created and others repealed and rewritten, the ACLU of Utah must be vigilant that these changes do not compromise our constitutional rights. During each session, our organizing and lobbying efforts are therefore aimed at educating lawmakers about the civil liberties implications of their proposals, and the following examples from the 1999 session indicate the wide-range of issues that we must address. A more complete legislative report is available on our website or at our offices.

Legislation Has Chilling Effect on Teachers

To our dismay, two bills were passed and signed by the governor that seemed to be a direct response to our successful arguments in Citizens of Nebo School District v. Weaver. Both have the effect of codifying the doctrine that teachers are full-time role models who cannot even be alleged to be involved in any “immoral” conduct without risk of losing their licenses. HB 109 Substitute amended the current law for teacher licensing requirements and changed the procedure under which complaints against teachers relating to their professional competence or ethics can be brought in court. It specifically grants standing to sue to any parent who has a child in the school, and it authorizes the Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission to establish standards for professional performance, competence, and ethical conduct for educators. It also requires that the commission, “establish procedures for receiving and acting upon reports or allegations regarding immoral, unprofessional, or incompetent conduct, unfitness for duty, or other violations of standards of ethical conduct, performance, or professional conduct.” Under the new law, the commission is granted the startling ability to, “investigate any allegation of sexual abuse of a student or a minor by an educator … independent of and separate from any criminal investigation.”

A related bill, HB 364, requires the Criminal Investigations and Technical Services Division of the Department of Public Safety to maintain a database of teachers accused, but not necessarily convicted, of a sexual offense, a drug offense, an offense against a person, or an instance of child abuse and neglect. The bill is clearly contrary to fundamental due process protections, and its broad nature is illustrated by the fact that a mere allegation that one is living in a same-sex relationship, has engaged in adultery or fornication, or has participated in some other consensual but illegal conduct with another adult, could arguably lead to the denial of his or her license and the end of his or her teaching career, regardless of its bearing on his or her qualifications and fitness to teach.

English-Only Initiative Defeated

For the third and hopefully final time, we must include the ever-present English-only law in our annual report. Brought before the entire House of Representatives as a citizens’ initiative, HB 241 demonstrated the same problems as former versions of the bill, in that its provisions severely compromised the due process, Equal Protection, and First Amendment rights of those who are not yet proficient in English, and limited effective communication between government employees and the public. After an intense lobbying effort by the ACLU of Utah and other organizations, the bill was defeated early on in the session. Unfortunately, U.S. English, the national organization behind the English-only movement, has vowed to collect the signatures necessary to put the initiative on the ballot in the year 2000.

Two Bills Demonstrate the Need for Asset Forfeiture Reform

Asset forfeiture laws have always conflicted with the Fourth Amendment’s guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. Developed largely in response to the so-called war against drugs, these laws allow law enforcement agents to seize the property of drug dealers and other criminals, and at times, they can be taken to extreme levels. HB 127 attempted to institute much-needed reforms to Utah’s current controlled substance asset forfeiture provisions. Among other amendments, the legislation added an innocent property owner exception, so that law enforcement agents would be prohibited from seizing property that was used for illegal purposes without the property owner’s knowledge or consent. It also required that all seized assets go directly to the General Fund of the state rather than remain with the law enforcement agency involved. The bill was referred to an interim committee and will be brought up again during the 2000 legislative session.

While HB 127 attempted to reform asset forfeiture laws, HB 267 exemplified many of their problems. If it had passed, it would have allowed the government to confiscate computers, peripherals, and personal property when these items were “used or intended for use” in violation of specified criminal statutes protecting children from sexual abuse. While pursuing the laudable and necessary objective of protecting children from abuse, the legislation made no distinction between owners who deliberately used their computers for illegal activity and those who were completely innocent of wrongdoing. Once the computer, equipment, software, and personal property had been seized, an innocent owner would face virtually insurmountable odds to recover his or her property.

Amendments to the Child Abuse Database Address Due Process Concerns

SB 98 further reformed the Department of Human Services’ Child Abuse Database, and it outlined several good modifications to the database statute, including: restrictions on access to the licensing database; improved notice and hearing requirements; and a mechanism for purging unsubstantiated and “without merit” allegations. However, the bill contains one problematic provision that is in apparent contradiction to the preponderance of evidence standard of proof: it allows an Administrative Law Judge to uphold a substantiated complaint based solely on the admissible hearsay statement of a child. Also, the bill, which passed and was signed by the governor, is narrow in its scope and will not solve all of the database’s due process problems.

Education and Outreach

The best protection against government abuse of power is a thorough knowledge of constitutional and statutory rights. Consequently, our education and outreach efforts continue to play an important role in helping us fulfill our mission. We maintain an updated library of resources, publish the ACLUReporter twice a year, and create reports on relevant topics. In addition, this past year we have found more creative and effective ways of organizing and using our web page, which contains current information about our legal docket, new cases filed, and case settlements.

In 1999, we also began a series of public forums that examined specific civil liberties issues. In order to reach as large a population as possible, we worked with a wide variety of other organizations in sponsoring the following events:

In January, we co-sponsored a public forum with the University of Utah Hinckley Institute of Politics in which our legal director, Stephen Clark, and Terry Kogan, University of Utah law professor, discussed the constitutional issues involved in hate crime laws.

In February, we brought in Robert Ellis Smith, an attorney and publisher of the acclaimed Privacy Journal, for a public forum at the Hinckley Institute and a brown bag luncheon at the University of Utah’s College of Law. Smith also met with state legislators to discuss the status of Utah’s privacy laws and the ways in which lawmakers could strengthen our privacy rights.

In March, we co-sponsored a rally with the Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committee (GALPAC) to advocate for legislation preventing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In September, we worked with the Utah National Organization for Women to sponsor the panel discussion, Polygamy: Choice or Coercion? Featuring Stephen Clark, BYU professors Lynn Wardle and Camille Williams, and Elizabeth Joseph, the panelists examined whether plural marriage should be constitutionally protected as a matter of privacy, association, and religious expression, or prosecuted as dangerous and oppressive for women and children.

In October, our organization and the First Unitarian Church hosted a candlelight vigil to protest the execution of Joseph Mitchell Parsons and advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.

In December, the Utah State Bar and the ACLU of Utah brought in Alvin Bronstein, the founding executive director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project and a recognized expert on prisoners’ rights and correctional case law, to discuss private prisons and the effect of the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

Award-Winning Year

We would not be able to accomplish our work without our very productive relationships with a large number of Utah communities and organizations. 1999 was quite literally an award-winning year for the ACLU of Utah, and the diversity of the following awards signifies our continued commitment to building and maintaining relationships with other organizations and communities:

The annual Diversity is Great awards recognize outstanding contributions to Utah’s lesbian and gay community. We were very honored to receive their 1999 New Organization of the Year award for our work ensuring the legal rights of sexual minorities.

In May, we received the Citizen’s Award of Commendation from the Department of Corrections, which stated that “the open dialogue with the ACLU has proven to be invaluable.” The fact that this dialogue is even a possibility is a striking turnaround from earlier days, and we now have options other than litigation to ensure that prison inmates receive basic constitutional protections.

We were very pleased to support the Utah Organization of Chinese Americans as they accepted an award from their national organization for best new chapter. In turn, they recognized the ACLU of Utah and other organizations with certificates of appreciation, and thanked us for our “dedication to and support of UOCA and the Asian Pacific American community.”

Last November, the Utah National Organization for Women recognized Carol Gnade at their Women of Courageous Action awards banquet for her important work at the ACLU of Utah.

Financial Report (Unaudited)

As a private, non-profit organization, the ACLU of Utah receives no government funding and never charges its clients for legal representation. It is no exaggeration to state that our donors have enabled us to accomplish everything detailed in this annual report.


Contributions and Membership $264,600.00 
Legal Awards $15,300.00 
Interest and Other $3,400.00

TOTAL INCOME $283,300.00


Program Services $221,000.00 
Operations $32,500.00 
Fundraising $14,400.00

TOTAL EXPENSES $267,900.00


Carol Gnade, Executive Director 
Stephen Clark, Legal Director 
Cori Sutherland, Deputy Director 
Nicole Reitze-Johnston, Legal Assistant


David Tundermann, President 
Laurie Wood, Vice President 
Suzanne Marelius, Tresurer 
Lincoln Hobbs, Legal Panel Director 
Marc Hoenig, At-Large Executive Committee Member 
Jill Sheinber, At-Large Executive Committee Member 
George Frandsen, National Board Representative 
Anita Albright 
Sue Ashdown 
Peggy Battin 
Douglas Campbell 
Tim Chambless 
Beverly Dalley 
Karen Denton 
Andy McCullough 
Colleen Sandor 
Allen Sievers 
Spotswood Spruance 
Tracy Vandeventer 
Janet Wolf

Legal Panel

Dianna Cannon 
Andrew Deiss 
Russell Hathaway 
Linda Jones 
Derek Langton 
Trystan Smith 
Karen Stam 
Phyllis Vetter 
Paul Wharton 
Mary Woodhead

Legal and Office Interns

Christian Davis 
Jennifer Dudman 
Heather Hansen 
Daniel Irvin 
Pete Litster 
Lupe Niumeitolu 
Margaret O”Neill 
Jennifer Teel

Contact Information

355 North 300 West #1 
Salt Lake City, UT 84103 
(801) 521-9862 
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