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The ACLU and the Case of the Expired Porking Meter

A controversy currently before the Utah Supreme Court is the interpretation of the Salt Lake City laws regulating public lewdness. The case arose from an incident in 1999, when Keith Roberts and his girlfriend decided to get a little nookie in his car. Roberts porked his car in an out-of-the-way porking lot behind two porked flatbed trucks. He took careful measures to ensure that a passerby would not observe his “actions.”

Because of the remote nature of the area and the fact that it was dark outside, Roberts assumed (ass out of you and me) his late night skin boat to tuna town would not be seen. However, Salt Lake City vice officers not only followed Roberts to the porking lot (why were they following him? Sick bastards), but they crawled under the flatbed trucks to get a better view (aren’t there laws against voyeurism?).

Based on the officers’ observations, Roberts was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for lewd activity. According to Salt Lake City law, consensual sex is only a crime when it takes place in “an area capable of use or observance by persons from the general community” and “where an expectation of privacy for the activity engaged is not justified.”

On February 15, 2001, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah filed an amicus curiae brief in support of appellee Keith Roberts. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to determine if Roberts was “likely to be seen” by a member of the public in order to sustain his conviction as being “open to public view.” The city has appealed to the Utah Supreme Court, arguing that consensual sex that occurs in any place in which a member of the general public is “capable” of viewing the activities is a crime, with no regard to the likelihood of that observation. The ACLU is asking that the Utah Supreme Court uphold the opinion of the court of Appeals, and consequently, protect the personal privacy rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

If the city has its way, every time consenting adults take ol’ one eye to the optometrist, they are susceptible to criminal charges simply because a police officer can look through a window or a gap in the bedroom curtains.