Skip to content
Main Menu
Utah Attorney General
Search
Attorney General
Sean D. Reyes
Utah Office of the Attorney General
Alerts
Close
Secondary Navigation

Supreme Court Rules EPA Overstepped its Authority in Regulating Nation’s Electricity Grid

June 30, 2022

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the authority to reorganize the nation’s energy grid.

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined 26 other states in challenging the EPA’s authority in West Virginia v. EPA. The case centers on whether the EPA can use its authority under the Clean Air Act to require coal-fired power plants to subsidize renewable-energy sources or reduce their own production. The EPA’s plan would impose billions in costs, resulting in closed power plants, job losses, and substantially higher energy prices for consumers. Approximately 60% of Utah’s electricity is generated from coal-fired power plants.

“This case has always been about who has the power to make these decisions,” said Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak. “The Supreme Court rightly recognized that Congress did not give the EPA the authority to make these significant national policy decisions regarding how Americans get their energy. The decision corrects the EPA from unlawfully imposing measures that cost hundreds of billions of dollars and impact millions of Americans.”


Utah Supreme Court Rules Against Salt Lake City in Inland Port Claims

June 29, 2022

Today, the Utah Supreme Court rejected two of Salt Lake City’s challenges to the Utah Inland Port Authority Act. The Court ruled that the Act may require affected cities to comply with zoning and land use requirements for the Inland Port. The City’s third challenge, regarding the allocation of certain property tax differential to the Inland Port project, is still pending and will be considered separately.

This ruling affirms two important parts of the Act, which provides a framework for developing the proposed inland port in northwest Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and Magna.

Utah House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, “Today’s ruling reaffirms the legitimate statewide purpose of the inland port and allows us to continue to work toward bringing the benefits of the port to the people of Utah. We look forward to engaging with our many stakeholders, including Salt Lake City, under the new framework adopted during the 2022 General Session to create an inland port that is a model of economic development and environmental sustainability.”

Senator Jerry Stevenson, Inland Port Board of Directors member, “I appreciate the Utah Supreme Court’s thorough review of this case. Our state has a tremendous opportunity to enhance the crossroads to the west as Salt Lake City has direct rail connections to all major west coast terminals. The impact of this international port will be positively felt throughout the entire western United States and our great state.”

The state will comply with the Court’s request for supplemental briefs about jurisdictional issues and the property tax differential of the appeal.


Internet Safety Tips & Resources

June 29, 2022

June is Internet Safety Month!

Whether you are a parent, educator, or child-serving professional, understanding the risks and harms of internet use is critical to keep kids safe. The Utah Attorney General Office’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force is paving the way to educate the public about how to prevent online child exploitation before it happens.

If you are looking for ways to start the conversation about internet safety with your own child or want to learn about ways to keep kids safe online, visit https://www.icactaskforce.org/ or check out the .PDFs below to learn more.


Utah Vape Shop Law Takes Effect Friday; AG Litigators Win in Court

June 29, 2022

The AGO sent out the following press release this morning:

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Howard Nielson, Jr. denied a request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented a new law that prohibits vape shops within 1,000 feet of a “public or private kindergarten, elementary, middle, junior high, or high school” from taking effect as scheduled, July 1, 2022. The ruling means the new law will take effect.

Exotic Smoke & Vape and 10 other retailers licensed as Retail Tobacco Specialty Businesses challenged SB 189, “Tobacco Retailer Amendments,” originally passed by the Utah Legislature in 2021. The vape shops allege that the law constitutes a “regulatory taking, violated due process, the First Amendment, and the Supremacy Clause” as well as being unconstitutionally vague. They sought a temporary order to prohibit the enforcement of the law while their lawsuit was pending. In their motion, the vape shops argued that they would be irreparably harmed by the law and that they could prove that the law was a regulatory taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

Agreeing with one of the arguments advanced in the papers filed by the Assistant Utah Attorneys General opposing the injunction, Judge Nielson ruled that the vape shops were not entitled to an injunction because state law allowing payment for any taking of private property would provide the vape shops just compensation if shops need to be related or suffer harm to commercial interest. “Because Plaintiffs can obtain just compensation through these avenues if they establish that they have suffered a regulatory taking,” the court wrote, it had “no authority to issue a preliminary injunction.”

After many years of study, the Utah Legislature enacted SB 189, and predecessor bills, to address the rise in vape use among young people in Utah. The vape shop plaintiffs in the case admitted that the “bulk of” their sales come from flavored electronic cigarette products, which only Retail Tobacco Specialty Businesses may sell in Utah and which health officials have found to be particularly attractive to teens. SB 189 provided vape retailers nearly a year and a half to move their businesses to other suitable locations before its effective date.

Although the vape shops’ preliminary injunction motion was denied, the case is ongoing.


Utah Attorney General’s Office Statement on Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

June 24, 2022

Today, the United States Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, holding that there is no right to abortion protected by the U.S. Constitution—such a right is not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and traditions. 

In anticipation of this ruling, the Utah State Legislature enacted a statute that is triggered by the Court’s decision and will prohibit abortion except in cases of rape, incest, the life of the mother, and other serious medical complications. 

“The Supreme Court pronouncement is clear. It has returned the question of abortion to the states,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D.Reyes. ”And the Utah legislature has answered that question. My office will do its duty to defend the state law against any and all potential legal challenges.” 


Utah Attorney General Reyes Defends 2nd Amendment at Supreme Court

June 23, 2022

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes applauds the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) for upholding the Second Amendment declaring New York’s subjective-issue firearm license regime unconstitutional in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.

Today, SCOTUS ruled 6-3 that New York’s requirement to obtain a concealed-carry license violates the Constitution “by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.” The State of New York requires citizens to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession” to obtain a concealed permit to carry a firearm outside the home.

The amicus brief was co-led by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. They were joined by the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Copy of SCOTUS opinion here.


Utah AGO Amicus Brief Used to Support U.S. Supreme Court Decision

June 22, 2022

Yesterday, an amicus brief written by the Utah Attorney General’s Office was used in support of a decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in Shoop v. Twyford, No. 21-511.

In Shoop v. Twyford, Raymond Twyford was found guilty of aggravated murder in the State of Ohio and sentenced to death. When his conviction and sentence was affirmed by Ohio’s appellate court, Twyford challenged the decision, claiming his counsel failed to present evidence of a head injury that impacted his ability to make rational decisions. Under a law called the All Writs Act 28 U.S.C. §1651(a), Twyford requested to be transported to a medical facility for evaluation to obtain evidence he believed was critical to his case.

Initially, Twyford’s request was approved by the lower federal courts even though it was unlikely that any evidence developed would have been admissible in court. The Utah Attorney General’s Office weighed in with an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court highlighting the risks involved with transporting violent prisoners. Historically, innocent lives have been lost in these transports. In this case, not only would the transportation of Twyford risk the lives of those facilitating his transportation but would also endanger the lives of every individual at the medical facility.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote that the transportation of Twyford was not justified under the All Writs Act 28 U.S.C. §1651(a), citing Utah’s amicus brief to support their decision. As noted in the brief, “No citizen or law enforcement officer should die or suffer injury just so a death row inmate can go on a dilatory evidence-gathering lark.” You can read the U.S. Supreme Court decision here and you can find Utah’s amicus brief here.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is committed to fighting for the public safety of all individuals and will continue to do so in and outside of the courts.


Sandy Man Arrested: Accused of Trading Vape for Sex

Charges Include Human Trafficking & Sodomy on a Child

SANDY – Today, the Utah Attorney General’s SECURE Task Force, assisted by the Sandy and Taylorsville Police Departments, arrested and charged 19-year-old, Braiden Riley, with seven felonies related to unlawful sexual contact with underage girls.

Specific charges include: Two counts of Human Trafficking of a Child; two counts of Sodomy on a Child; two counts of Sexual Abuse of a Child; and one count of Enticing a Minor.

A probable cause statement cites two underage victims, who say Riley solicited for sex in exchange for marijuana and/or nicotine vape cartridges.  The information stated Riley used social media to solicit the young girls, often posing as a 15-year-old, and often sending explicit pictures.  Many account holders on message threads on the account indicate they are between 11 and 15 years old.

Riley was arrested Thursday at his Sandy apartment.  Because of substantial danger to the community, and because he is believed to have been involved in a recent attempted kidnapping of two minor children in Sandy, Riley is being held without bail at the Salt Lake County Jail.


180 Months for Ex-School Board Member for Producing/Transporting Child Porn

29-year-old Joel L. Organista has been sentenced to 180 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to two felonies involving the production and distribution of child pornography. The sentence will run concurrently with a sentence handed down in State Court, based on the same crimes. In addition, Organista will be required to register as a sex offender and will serve a lifetime of supervised release.

An investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office ICAC Task Force uncovered a Dropbox account that was used to download dozens of images of minors. Organista also admitted to using Snapchat to make contact with minor children and soliciting them to perform sexual acts via video chat. That includes a 13-year-old boy who said he performed sexual acts for Organista online.

ICAC began investigating the case in January 2021, after receiving tips that Organista had been downloading the images involving child pornography. He was arrested in June 2021 and has been in custody since then.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Utah Attorney General’s Office and Assistant United States Attorney’s office prosecuted the case.

###


Statewide ICAC Operation to Combat Child Pornography

June 3, 2022

Statewide ICAC Crackdown: Multiple Arrests-27 Agencies 

To respond to the growing number of cases involving child pornography and illegal contact with minors, the Utah Attorney General’s Office led a statewide effort to address this growing problem.

The “Statewide Proactive Chat” involved officers from 27 agencies working together to identify and weed out illegal sexual contact and pornography involving minors. Since the beginning of 2020, the number of cases has exploded by 600%, and it keeps getting worse.

Sting operations over the course of one week involved officers intercepting messages and underage pornography from Ogden to Cedar City. The Statewide Proactive Chat resulted in 12 arrests, 8 search warrants served, and 13 pending cases. 

“Not only is there a constant rise in cases, but many of the encounters we are intercepting are also bolder and more aggressive than ever,” said ICAC Commander Alan White. “We’re also seeing younger victims—even toddlers, more often.  It’s disturbing and overwhelming, to say the least.”

The Utah Attorney General’s Office would like to express appreciation to the participating agencies working to keep children safe: Utah Attorney General‘s Office, West Valley City Police Department, West Jordan Police Department, Weber County Sheriff’s Office Provo Police Department, Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Iron County Sheriff’s Office, Box Elder County Attorney‘s Office, Orem Police Department, Utah County Sheriff’s Office, Uintah County Sheriff’s Office, AP&P (Northern Region), Farmington Police Department, Syracuse Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, AP&P (Region three), Sandy Police Department, Riverton Police Department, Bluffdale Police Department, Vernal Police Department, AP&P (Region Five), Cedar City Police Department, Enoch Police Department, Saint George Police Department, Salem Police Department, Washington City Police Department, AP&P (Region Six).