Asi Mohi, the teenager charged in the death of a concert fan at the Triad Amphitheater last year, doesn't like life in jail.
For starters, he's not getting the newspapers, pamphlets and paperback books he'd hoped for. So he's filed a lawsuit against the jail in U.S. District Court. "Prisoners do not lose broad sweep of First Amendment rights by virtue of their confinement," he said in the handwritten suit.The suit is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by Mohi. Now, if he can just get himself a hearing on a traffic ticket, Mohi will have a case before every court in the state. His trial in the slaying of Aaron Chapman, 17, is pending in 3rd District Court. Mohi is accused of leading an assault on Chapman, then shooting him with a .22-caliber handgun on Sept. 1, following a concert. Mohi, an alleged gang member and former captain of the West High football team, instigated the beating of Chapman, according to witnesses.
Mohi's pre-trial appeal over the way he was certified to stand trial as an adult is before the Utah Supreme Court.
And now his newspaper and book woes are before U.S. District Judge David Sam. The judge has referred the case to U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba for a report and recommendation.
Mohi cites 10 federal and U.S. Supreme Court rulings in his five-page suit. Prisoners retain all First Amendment rights that aren't inconsistent with incarceration, Mohi wrote, citing the 1974 Supreme Court ruling in Pell vs. Procunier.
A jail's prohibition on newspapers violates the First Amendment, he added, citing a 1985 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.
As Mohi tells it, he's lost most of his rights in the county jail. Utah has violated his right to free speech, his right to freedom of religion, his right to access to the courts, his right to due process and his right to equal protection under the law, the suit says.
However, Mohi's suit may be too late to make much of a difference in his jail life. Salt Lake County jail officials earlier this month changed the policy banning magazines and newspapers after another inmate filed a similar suit earlier this year.
In his suit, Mohi also requested more law books. That request, too, has been made before. But U.S. Magistrate Ronald Boyce last week recommended that such claims be denied. The inmate's limited access to the jail's law library meets constitutional standards, he said in a report and recommendation to a federal judge.