Sim Gill responds to ACLU’s request to have the county dismissed from COVID-19 case regarding inmates

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Salt Lake County has filed an objection to a motion filed by the ACLU of Utah who is seeking to dismiss the county from a pending case addressing the release of inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic at various Salt Lake Jail Facilities. 

Related: Salt Lake County responds to ACLU-led lawsuit to release inmates

In a press release issued by Salt Lake County, they stated if the ACLU’s motion is granted, it would effectively deny the County and Sheriff Rivera any chance of a substantive decision by the Supreme Court on the merits of the case. 

“This lawsuit caused unnecessary alarm for first responders who work in the jail, incarcerated individuals, family members of all involved, and the community as a whole,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.  “The ACLU wasted County time and taxpayer dollars during a crisis by deciding to sue first and ask questions later. We oppose the idea that the ACLU’s short-sightedness in bringing this lawsuit, as contrasted with the Salt Lake County Sheriffs’ exemplary responses to this pandemic, should be effectively denied Supreme Court review based on a midnight filing by those who might be embarrassed by the result.”

Gill further added they are simply asking the court to dismiss a case that had “no chance of prevailing at the eleventh hour speaks to the faith they had in their own petition. We have never altered our position that this case was without merit, substance, or evidence.”

Sheriff Rivera said they have worked diligently from the beginning of this pandemic to keep prisoners, employees and the communities safe.

“This lawsuit was not needed due to the fact we were already taking the measures to address the safety issues in our facilities,”said Rivera

Related: Salt Lake County deputy shares serious message about COVID-19 after surviving near-death experience

The ACLU statement on the original lawsuit:

We will continue this case, which is part of a nationwide effort to protect vulnerable populations during this pandemic, because we believe that people’s lives are at risk.

Evidence shows that institutional living is inherently dangerous during a pandemic. Even with preventive efforts, additional outbreaks will likely occur in more Utah correctional facilities to threaten prisoners, staff, and the surrounding communities.

We seek only the swift release of prisoners when doing so is safe, and health and safety measures are created for those who remain incarcerated. We have already voluntarily dismissed several counties who have demonstrated that they are taking effective measures and will continue to do so.

You can read the full petition below:

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