I wrote an article regarding electronic filing in federal court that was just published in the Jan./Feb. issue of the Utah Bar Journal. If you’re interested in reading the article, click on the link below.
Archive for January 2007
United States of America v. Great Salt Lake Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America, The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Peoa Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Case No. 2:04-CV-604 TC
January 22, 2007
Judge Tena Campbell
As an update to an earlier post post, Judge Tena Campbell has denied the Government’s Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to hold the Boy Scouts responsible for over $12 million in damages for lighting a fire (or rather, not putting out a fire) that eventually consumed more than 14,000 acres in 2002.
“Because there are genuine issues of material fact regarding causation [of the fire], the United States’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is denied.” The issue of causation will be determined by the jury.
Case is set for trial in March 2007.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. DENNIS B. EVANSON, BRENT H. METCALF, STEPHEN F. PETERSEN, REED H. BARKER, WAYNE F. DEMEESTER and GRAHAM R. TAYLOR, Defendants.
Case No. 2:05-CR-805 TC
United States District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division
2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2816
Magistrate Judge David Nuffer
January 12, 2007
Defendant filed a Motion for Discovery of a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). Information in the SAR was relied upon and cited by the government in its attempt to obtain a search warrant.
As stated in the opinion, “a Suspicious Activity Report is a document the Secretary of the Treasury requires certain money-handling businesses to file if the business detects a known or suspected violation of federal law, a suspected transaction related to money laundering activity, or a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act.”
Financial instituions that create SARs are: (1) “prohibited from notifying any person involved in the transaction that the transaction has been reported;” and (2) required to “decline to produce the SAR or to provide any information that would disclose that a SAR has been prepared or filed. . . .” (even in the face of a subpoena).
Further, “[N]o officer or employee of the Federal Government or of any State, local, tribal, or territorial government within the United States, who has any knowledge that such report was made may disclose to any person involved in the transaction that the transaction has been reported, other than as necessary to fulfill the official duties of such officer or employee.” 31 U.S.C. § 5318.
The government also cited several policies favoring non-disclosure, including: (1) disclosure of the contents of a SAR may inadvertently disclose methods by which institutions and law enforcement learn of suspicious and otherwise illegal activity and therefore might allow other wrongdoers to avoid these methods of detection; (2) financial institutions file SARs with the expectation that they will be kept confidential; and (3) disclosure of SARs will tend to have a chilling effect on both the quantity and quality of future SAR filings.
With these arguments in hand, the federal government refused to produced the SAR to the Defendant.
However, Magistrate Judge Nuffer ultimately mandated disclosure of the SAR since: (1) this is a criminal matter (as opposed to a civil action) and the defendant is entitled to additional constitutional rights to defend himself; (2) “the government created the need for disclosure by relying on the SAR in the affidavit” in its hope to obtain a warrant; and (3) the government made the SAR “material to preparing the defense.” Fed.R.Crim.P. 16(a)(1)(E).
The Judge also ruled that the SAR is to remain sealed and accessible only to the court, government and defendant’s counsel.
The U.S. government is asking Judge Tena Campbell to hold the Boy Scouts of America responsible for over $12 million in damages for lighting a fire that eventually consumed more than 14,000 acres in 2002.
Amusingly, the Deseret News article states: “The Scouts also testified that they thought they had put the fire out by dumping a cup of water on it, throwing dirt on it and urinating on it. Overby pointed out that the Scout’s own manual says fires must be put out by dousing it with water and dirt and mixing the ashes. A Scout testified he didn’t want to mix the fire because others had urinated on it.”
Lawsuit against Salt Lake City Police Dept., Salt Lake City police officer, Gold’s Gym, et al – Judge Ted StewartJanuary 16, 2007
A Utah man (named Agim Fetahu) has filed a lawsuit against Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake City Police Department, Marcus Barrett (Salt Lake City police officer), West Valley Fitness Group (who operates Gold’s Gym in West Valley), and two other individuals for an altercation at a West Valley Gold’s Gym following a heated basketball game.
Plaintiff claims that when he tried to leave the gym area, Barrett blocked his exit with his police car. The suit also states: “Barrett pointed a shotgun belonging to the Salt Lake City Police Department at [plaintiff].”
A 911 call made by plaintiff, asking for other officers, records Barrett shouting profanities at the Plaintiff while Barrett and two friends tried to get at Plaintiff through Plaintiff’s car.
The plaintiff’s Complaint seeks “a reasonable sum not less than four million dollars.” The case has been assigned to Judge Ted Stewart.
Moral of the story: Don’t try to change your grades by hacking into your professor’s computer.
On January 4, 2007, Judge Tena Campbell sentenced former University of Utah student You Li to four months of incarceration after Li pleaded guilty to to one count each of accessing a protected computer in attempted furtherance of fraud and obtaining information from a protected computer.
At the time of the offense (December 2004), You Li was a student at the University of Utah majoring in computer science. Li admitted to the Judge that he used software to decrypt the password on a computer owned by the University. Li then found a spreadsheet on the hacked computer which contained the grades of all assignments in one of his classes.
“So, in an attempt to improve the grade I would receive in the professor’s class, I changed more than one of my grades in that spreadsheet to better grades, including changing at least one grade from failing to passing,” Li wrote in a statement to the Court.
The prosecution requested a year of prison. Due to Li’s “obvious remorse” and prior good record, the Judge sentenced Li to just four months incarceration.