On May 21, 2018, the ACLU of Utah Foundation (ACLU of Utah) and Disability Law Center (DLC) filed a lawsuit against Davis County to gain access to the standards for operating local and county jails. We resorted to legal action only after exhausting all other avenues to secure the documents via public records requests and appeals to the State Records Committee.
On March 25, 2021, Utah’s Second Judicial District Court ruled that Davis County must release to the ACLU of Utah and Disability Law Center the Utah Jail Standards. The ruling means that, despite their copyrighted status, the Utah Jail Standards are still records under the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act, and that the County had no valid basis for withholding the records.
On May 21, 2018, the ACLU of Utah Foundation (ACLU of Utah) and Disability Law Center (DLC) filed a lawsuit against Davis County to gain access to the standards for operating local and county jails.
The plaintiffs are seeking the public release of standards that govern the operation of the Davis County Jail, as well as audit reports assessing the Jail's compliance with the standards. The case is led by David C. Reymann and Jeremy M. Brodis, attorneys at Parr Brown Gee and Loveless, PC.
The lawsuit stems from a series of public records requests and appeals that ended in April 2018 when the Utah State Records Committee denied the ACLU of Utah and the DLC access to the records—leaving legal action as their only recourse.
In 2016, Utah led the nation in per-capita jail deaths. "The extraordinary number of deaths in Utah jails in 2016 exposed the truth that we don’t know how county jails are being run, and if they are complying with their own standards,”said Leah Farrell, staff attorney at the ACLU of Utah. “We know the Davis County Jail failed a state audit in 2016, but we don’t know anything more. Jail operations are a black-box and the public deserves a right to know more."
4/2/21 - Years after a spate of questionable Utah in-custody deaths, Utah jail operating standards are now public records (Salt Lake Tribune, 4/2/21)
3/26/21 - Judge orders release of Utah jail standards, ruling copyright is not a blanket protection (Ogden Standard Examiner, 3/26/21)
1/6/21 - Trial begins over Davis County's withholding of copyrighted jail standards (Ogden Standard Examiner)
8/24/20 - A trial in this case is tentatively scheduled for early 2021.
9/6/19 - 2nd District Judge David Connors ordered Davis County to make jail audits and inspections public. The judge was still deciding on whether to make the underlying jail standards public documents ("Utah judge rules county jail inspection documents are public records," Ogden Standard Examiner, Sept. 6, 2019).