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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 11, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 12Jun00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

ACLU Says SLC Refused To Settle Main Street Lawsuit
Deseret News 10Jun00 N1
By Hans Camporreales: Deseret News staff writer

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- ACLU attorney Stephen Clark claims that Salt Lake City refused to settle the lawsuit over the sale of a block-long stretch of Main Street to the LDS Church. Clark said he was ready to settle weeks ago if the City would pay his client for the cost of filing the lawsuit. But City Attorney Roger Cutler says that is not an "appropriate and fair" basis for the city to consider.

The city instead wants the lawsuit consolidated with the ACLU's federal civil rights lawsuit that claims the sale agreement allowing restrictions on the Main Street Plaza violates the First Amendment rights of the ACLU's clients.

Meanwhile, the court fight over the plaza turned nastier as ACLU attorney Clark mailed Cutler a motion he plans to file asking a federal judge to sanction the city attorneys for causing unnecessary delays by "filing motions that make no procedural sense, spending what now must amount to dozens of hours and thousands of dollars preparing multiple pleadings, when the case could have been resolved amicably at much less cost to the public."

Clark expressed his frustration with the delays by City attorneys, "I'm not going to let the city attorney file frivolous motion after frivolous motion for as long as this lawsuit is pending. I want to send a message that that's not the way this case ought to be litigated."

After the Salt Lake City Council amended the ordinance authorizing the Main Street block sale to the Church on May 17th, Clark says he offered to dismiss the case. He says that the City Council's resolution made clear that the city never intended to make the plaza a public park, a fact that had been ambiguous until then. But Clark says his request for $2,500 in costs incurred to date to settle was turned down, as was a request to settle for $1,500 for plaintiff Craig S. Axford, who had to pay that amount to file the suit.

But Cutler claims that the ACLU filed improperly, and so the City shouldn't have to pay, "We don't owe him any costs. He's the one who filed improperly in our view, and we're not going to be blackmailed," Cutler said. "If he wants to dismiss it, that will end it, and that's what ought to happen."


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