Mortensen Law Firm Files Civil Rights Action

By on January 3rd, 2017 in Civil Rights, News

On January 3, 2017, the firm filed a civil rights action against the proprietors of a Salt Lake City service station for depriving an African-American male of his right to equal accommodation. The action was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, pursuant to title 42 U.S.C. § 2000a of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits public accommodations from discriminating on the basis of race.

Among other things, the complaint filed in the action alleges that the service station’s employee, wielding a hammer and an attack dog, viciously assaulted the Afro-American plaintiff in a racist attack. The complaint requests an injunction to permanently bar the proprietors from denying the plaintiff of his right of equal accommodation and seeks an award of attorney’s fees. Under state law causes of action, the complaint also seeks compensatory damages of not less than $300,000 and punitive damages of not less than $300,000.

Separately, in the same court, the firm is prosecuting a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against law enforcement officers and municipalities who are alleged to have deprived the female plaintiff of her rights to be free of unlawful arrest and to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures of her home. Oral arguments in that case are set for early February 2017.

Successful Termination of Parental Rights

By on July 14th, 2016 in Family Law, News, Parental Rights

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Mr. Mortensen’s most recent successful appeal is In re G.J.C., 2016 UT App 147, issued by the Utah Court of Appeals on July 14, 2016.

Mr. Mortensen represented the mother of a young child.  The mother sought to terminate the father’s parental rights after the father had repeatedly violated court orders and after the father had at gunpoint kidnapped the mother’s parents (while father was unlawfully withholding the child from mother).  Father’s conduct had resulted in father being sent to prison for up to five years.

At trial before the juvenile court judge, Mr. Mortensen presented an overwhelming case in support of termination of father’s parental rights.  Faced with the evidence, the juvenile court judge found numerous serious grounds to terminate the father’s parental rights.

However, the juvenile court judge declined to terminate the father’s parental rights, ruling that termination was not in the child’s best interests.  Because the ruling was manifestly illogical, Mr. Mortensen filed an appeal on behalf of the mother.

The mother’s appeal needed to show the Court of Appeals panel that the juvenile court judge’s best interests ruling was against the clear weight of the evidence.  Because Mr. Mortensen had, at trial, presented extensive evidence clearly showing that the child’s best interests required termination of the father’s parental rights, the record was in place to support the mother’s appeal.

Mr. Mortensen drafted a detailed petition on appeal summarizing the facts and identifying numerous errors made by the juvenile court judge.  Because the petition showed that the child’s best interests obviously required termination of the father’s parental rights, the appeal-level guardian ad litem undertook to support the mother’s appeal.

Mr. Mortensen then thoroughly briefed the case, presenting compelling arguments to persuade the Court of Appeals that it should reverse the juvenile court judge’s ruling.  Happily, the Court of Appeals panel reversed the juvenile court’s best interest ruling.  The Court of Appeals ruled that the juvenile court judge’s decision to not terminate was against the clear weight of the evidence and ordered the juvenile court judge to terminate the father’s parental rights.

Mr. Mortensen practices in all areas of family law, including divorce, property distribution, child custody, and alimony, as well as termination of parental rights.  He represents both men and women with equal zeal and believes that the court system is substantially fair to both genders.