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It's Harvest Time...

(News for 12/22/04)

Summary: This update discusses government marriage and an activist judiciary that ignores law and common sense, shocking admissions regarding involuntary commitment abuse, property confiscation without due process, state abuse of families, and November's election mishaps.


1. Judge Grants Rights to Homosexual Partner... Despite Amendment 3

2. State Contractor's Shocking Admission as to Dramatic Rise in Involuntary Commitments

3. SLC Confiscation Thugs Settle Over Tortilla Factory Brutality

4. Legislative Audit: No Evidence for Removal of Bierly Children

5. Utah's Election Mishaps


1. Judge Grants Rights to Homosexual Partner... Despite Amendment 3

On December 7, third district court judge Timothy Hanson granted visitation rights to, and required child support from, a non-birth partner. The former couple in question were joined under a Vermont "same sex" union arrangement. One partner, Cheryl Barlow, decided to end the arrangement and has sought sole legal and physical custody.

As predicted in our analysis of Constitutional Amendment 3, judges can twist the law, ignore Amendment 3, and rule according to their personal persuasions. This particular judge stretched "in loco parentis" (essentially the concept where the person is considered equivalent to being a parent) as follows:

"The court sees no legal reason to discriminate in applying the doctrine… to a couple who are in a committed lesbian relationship. The heterosexual or homosexual relationship between the two adults is irrelevant to the doctrine of in loco parentis."
Source: "Judge says girl is better off with two mothers," Elizabeth Neff, Salt Lake Tribune, 12/8/2004.

In other words, this judge is attempting to grant equal status and rights to non-birth partners in relationships — be those partners heterosexual or homosexual.

Dangerous precedents like these are commonplace in Utah courtrooms. Amendment 3 proponents are particularly up in arms over this ruling. But they, including Barlow’s attorney, Frank Mylar, also a legal advisor for "Yes! For Marriage", were given ample notice that there were fatal flaws in their approach.

We also warned Mylar specifically that it is possible for natural birth parents like Ms. Barlow to actually lose rights under Amendment 3, rather than gain rights.

For more information on judicial reform, see our discussion of the recent, so-called retention elections for judges, and the Judicial Reform section of our Issues & Alerts page.

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2. State Contractor's Shocking Admission as to Dramatic Rise in Involuntary Commitments

The pseudo-governmental organization, Valley Mental Health (VMH), has seen a 48% rise in involuntary commitments this year (366 versus 247 in the same time frame last year). VMH is the state government’s largest contract "mental health provider." The widely-recognized cause: Senate Bill (SB) 27S3 by Sen. Leonard Blackham (Republican), passed by the legislature in the 2003 session.

As we repeatedly warned, persons forced into commitment receive neither justice, nor due process. Currently under Utah law, when you are merely accused of mental illness, you can be involuntarily committed to a mental institution. Your fate is decided by a judge or his appointed commissioner, and you will likely contend with the "professional" opinion of state-funded psychiatrists. You have no right to a trial by jury, you do not have to commit a crime, and you have little recourse if committed. Once committed, you have fewer rights than a convicted felon. You may be subjected to mind altering drugs and other experimental "treatments," and the length of your incarceration is determined by the same judges or commissioners.

SB 27S3 made it easier for these unjust court proceedings to commit people against their will by, among other things, eliminating the current "immediate" standard of protection. SB 27S3 utilized a looser definition called "substantial danger." As we warned, SB 27S3 was poorly written, vague and open-ended, and can be used to commit just about anyone for just about any reason.
See our 2003 Legislative Performance Report to see how your legislators voted on SB 27S3.

Jim Whear, chief operating officer for Valley Mental Health, stated:

"Depending on the situation, it's not good for anyone to get scooped up and have their rights taken away and put in a hospital against their will. It sometimes puts the mental health center in an adversarial position with the client. We become the enforcer."
Source: "Involuntary commitments rise: Law has had an impact on the state’s largest mental health provider," Amy Joi Bryson, Deseret News, 11/15/04.

From the same article, Whear also made the following shocking admission:

"It does meet an immediate community need. For those who are very ill, who cannot make decisions for themselves, it is helpful to get them into a stabilizing environment… For 70 to 80 percent, it is helpful. In the rest of the cases it is harmful and expensive." [emphasis added]

Whear is suggesting that 20-30 percent of the people who are involuntarily committed to their facilities are harmed! That would equate to between 73 and 110 people out of the 366 that VMH has "treated" this year!  Imagine if you, or someone you love, is one of those people, locked in a mental institution with no way out.

But Vicki Cottrell, executive director for the Utah branch of the so-called National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, doesn’t seem too ruffled about those harmed. She stated: "I do think it is working."

Success appears to depend upon one's particular agenda.  For more information on this ongoing battle, see the Mental Health section of our Issues & Alerts page.  For more information on the importance of trials by jury, see our Issue in Focus: Why Are Jury Trials Crucial to Your Freedom?"

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3. SLC Confiscation Thugs Settle Over Tortilla Factory Brutality

In 1997, a combination of seven federal, state, and local police agencies stormed the Panaderia La Diana (a tortilla factory) in Salt Lake City under the guise of a drug raid. Seven years later, Salt Lake City is paying $290,000 to 19 plaintiffs on the receiving end of that raid.

Accountability Utah investigator Terry Trease visited the business after the incident and spoke with a representative of the factory. He claimed that he called police and asked them to come and curtail the drug dealing that was going on outside his restaurant. The police came and he naively gave them a tour of the factory. He told Trease that he believes the police were actually casing the factory (via the "tour") to determine whether they wanted to seize it.

Within days of the tour, seven police agencies stormed the factory. During the raid, the factory owner, Rafael Gomez, asserted that he was hit in the face and knocked to the floor, his secretary was dragged to the floor by her hair, approximately 80 of his customers, including children and pregnant women, were roughly handcuffed and forced to remain on the floor for several hours.

Trease observed a 4-inch hole in one of the doors the police had apparently shotgunned through. There was no lock on it. A second door, going to an office, was also shot off, nearly taking the hand of the secretary inside with it. Again, it was apparently unlocked. The tour gave Trease the impression that the police officers had carelessly put innocent people in danger.

The result of this raid? Two bottles of the painkiller Darvon and two bottles of penicillin were supposedly found in the building.

And what of the officers who perpetrated this violence? As far as we know, none of them have been disciplined or charged with any crime. To add insult to injury, the legislature has rewarded these agents and agencies with the following legislation:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 175S2 by sen. Chris Buttars, passed in the 2004 session, effectively repealed Citizens Initiative B, passed by 69% of Utah voters in 2000. Police will again be allowed to profit from property confiscated from innocent owners, destroying due process of law. Under SB 175, forfeitures are again authorized and encouraged to be performed at the federal level, where property owners are presumed to be guilty, and are denied justice.
    See our 2004 Legislative Performance Report for more details and to see how your legislators voted. Also see a detailed analysis of SB 175S2, and the Property Rights section of our Issues & Alerts page.

Companion legislation to SB 175S2 diminishes or eliminates accountability for brutal acts committed by public officers:

  • SB 55S1 by sen. Leonard Blackham (Republican), passed in the 2004 session, shields government employees who engage in these types of abusive activities from personal liability.
    See page 4 of our 2004 Legislative Performance Report for more details and to see how your legislators voted.

  • SB 225S1 by sen. Leonard Blackham (Republican), passed in the 2003 session, severely limits damages against government agencies that perpetrate this kind of abuse.
    See page 4 of our 2003 Legislative Performance Report for more details and to see how your legislators voted.

Unfortunately, too many officials like senators Chris Buttars and Leonard Blackham have been returned to office by citizen enablers, where they can continue to promote this type of corruption and destruction of your most basic rights.
Additional source: "Hard justice," Editorial, Salt Lake Tribune, 11/30/2004.

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4. Legislative Audit: No Evidence for Removal of Bierly Children

After years of trivializing the rape of innocent Utah families, a Utah legislative audit has taken a baby step toward confirming what we have been telling you all along: DCFS is out of control. The audit can cite no evidence for the forced removal of Jordan and Leigh Bierly.

In 2003, we provided the public and officials with an extensive report on the irregularities and abuses perpetrated against the Bierly family. As Accountability Utah is not a jury, we do not pretend to know all of the particulars of every case we profile. However, we believe we can recognize when basic rights and decency have been violated, and this case provides a horrific case study of that.

The audit is weak, and fails to expose and adequately criticize a long history of evidence that we believe clearly shows malicious mind games, deceit, and fraud perpetrated by DCFS against this family.

The children, in particular, have been put at significant risk. Jordan, a brittle diabetic, was nearly killed by medically-unskilled caretakers, and both have been bounced around in the system through nearly a dozen different providers. In 2002, soon-to-be-ex-House Speaker Marty Stephens apparently agreed to conduct a legislative audit of the Bierly case . As is typical with corrupt officials who cover for each other, the audit was not completed until after Jordan and Leigh had been adopted out. Adoption decreases the chances of ever being returned to their home.

We have been dismayed at the number of people who have turned a stubborn, blind eye to blatant abuses and who choose to rely upon hearsay and innuendo (typically from government bureaucrats and complicit media outlets) to form their opinions as to the guilt or innocence of their fellow citizens.

Too many citizens still prefer to spend their energies making excuses for indecent officials in government who deny their neighbors basic due process.  Too few citizens respect the notion advanced by the founders of our nation that people are to be presumed and treated as innocent until they are convicted by a jury of their peers of a legitimate crime.
For more information on the fatal weaknesses of these citizens, see our Issue in Focus: "How Citizens Enable Political Corruption". Source: "Audit: DCFS removal of 2 children flawed," Kirsten Stewart, Salt Lake Tribune, 12/2/2004.

For more information, see the Parental & Family Rights section of our Issues & Alerts page.

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5. Utah's Election Mishaps

Were you aware that Utah County dropped 33,000 ballots from the total number of ballots? Had private citizens been asleep, those ballots likely would not have been counted prior to certification of the election results.

Utah County elections coordinator Kristen Swensen stated:

"The card readers were fine; it was just the way it was programmed initially. It was just off by one letter."
Source: "33,000 ballots lost in shuffle," Dan Harrie & Mark Eddington, Salt Lake Tribune, 11/13/04.

Utah County information systems director Neil Peterson stated:

"It was a simple problem, but a little tricky to find. The readers worked fine, everything worked like it was supposed to. It was a setup mistake by our programming team that sets up the election."
Source: "Utah County votes counted incorrectly," Tad Walch, Deseret News, 11/14/04.

It takes a programming team? Who monitors this "team"? Are they skilled enough about programming to oversee what was programmed? Obviously not in this case.

As we warned in our election analysis and described in our 2003 Fraud Advisory, the entire State of Utah has an even more disturbing problem: There is no way for citizens to verify that the election results are, in any way, secure or accurate. In order to believe the election results, citizens must rely solely upon the word of officials like the two quoted above.

Reminiscent of third world elections, the very elected officials whose names are on the ballot, and who stand to lose money, influence, and their jobs, govern the entire, secretive process.

Grand County officials have also forwarded numerous complaints regarding their electronic voting machines. One of the many problems is that there is not a paper ballot of any sort to verify the accuracy of the machines.
Source: "Voting machines aren't a hit in Grand County," Carrie Switzer, Deseret News, 11/29/2004.

Finally, citizens in Salt Lake County reported that pencils were not provided for in many Salt Lake County voting booths so that voters could write in candidates. We wonder whether this oversight would have happened if mayoral candidate Ellis Ivory had remained a write-in candidate.

We hope citizens are growing tired of shady elections. If you are in this situation, familiarize yourself with the reforms we believe must take place before elections can again be considered legitimate. For more information, see the Voting/Elections section of our Issues & Alerts page.

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Accountability Utah recipe: Take our information and opinion, research their information and opinion (if it is available), and then examine the law and draw your own conclusions.  If you have comments or suggestions, please email us at info@accountabilityutah.org.


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