Earlier today, the ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorney B. Kent Morgan of The Dyer Law Group filed a complaint in federal district court alleging that Salt Lake County Sheriff James Winder and his officers unjustifiably and illegally imprisoned 22-year-old Enrique Uroza at the Salt Lake County Metro Jail (Metro) for 39 days after Mr. Uroza had posted court-ordered bail.

 “Without any legal authority, the county held Mr. Uroza in jail for 39 days after he posted the bail set by a court,” said ACLU of Utah Legal Director Darcy Goddard. “Sheriff Winder did so pursuant to an unconstitutional jail policy that effectively denies the right to bail for those inmates who are unable to prove to the satisfaction of jail officials that they are lawfully present in the United States. Our fundamental constitutional values prohibit both the unlawful detention of individuals based on mere suspicion and the deprivation of personal liberty without due process of law.”

In June 2011, Mr. Uroza, a sophomore at Weber State University with no prior criminal history other than one minor traffic ticket, appeared in Utah State Court to face allegations of forgery and theft. The State Court set bail at $5,000 and remanded Mr. Uroza to Metro for processing. Mr. Uroza was booked into custody at 2:34 p.m. on June 13 and his bail bond was posted approximately 10 minutes later. Despite the State Court’s bail order, Sheriff Winder and his officers refused to release Mr. Uroza.

Even after a second court ruling on July 21 ordering Mr. Uroza’s release “immediately,” Sheriff Winder still refused to release him. Sheriff Winder publicly cited as justification a long since expired June 14 request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that Mr. Uroza be held for “48 hours.” But that request expired on June 16, without ICE ever taking Mr. Uroza into custody or otherwise indicating a continued interest in him. When ICE finally did take Mr. Uroza into custody on July 22, they quickly determined that he should be released on bail of only $2,500.

“Sheriff Winder has apparently taken the position that it is ‘reasonable’ to hold inmates for prolonged and indefinite periods of time, regardless of whether ICE asked them to, whenever he or his officers suspect that someone might be in the country unlawfully,” said ACLU of Utah cooperating attorney Mr. Morgan. “We look forward to demonstrating in court exactly how unreasonable that is.”

Mr. Uroza added, “I am bringing this case not just to vindicate my rights, but to protect the rights of everyone who has been or would otherwise be subjected to indefinite detention by the police. I think this case has the potential to help a lot of people.”

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