Judge slaps Utah with injunction on police powers

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm •  Published: May 13, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A judge slapped an injunction Monday on a Utah law that sought to limit the police powers of the U.S. Forest Service and other federal land-management agencies.

The law had been set to take effect Tuesday. State officials say they're trying to stop federal officers from citing people for driving violations on and off federal lands. Defendants have to travel long distances to a federal court and pay hefty fines to settle violations, they say.

"They're using our laws to cite people," Rep. Michael Noel, R-Kanab, said Monday. "They crossed the line."

Utah Attorney General John Swallow agreed to let U.S. District Judge David Nuffer issue the injunction, pending a June 28 hearing on whether Utah has the authority to limit federal police powers.

"We don't want Utah citizens going before a federal magistrate for a speeding ticket," Swallow said Monday in a statement. "Federal officers should be enforcing federal laws, and state and local officers should be enforcing state and local laws. We are concerned about the federal government once again encroaching on states' rights."

Noel said federal officers are aggressively stopping and questioning visitors on public lands for any infraction, even expired license plates. The effort has increased in recent years as Utah counties take action to reopen dirt paths closed by the federal government, he said.