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Utah's Right to Know
Donald Meyers
Donald W. Meyers writes about open-government issues for The Salt Lake Tribune. He is also the site manager of utahsright.com, the Tribune's online database of public records. He is also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists' National Freedom of Information Committee and sits on the board of directors of the Utah Foundation for Open Government.

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Freedom of Information Act helps inmate find evidence of possible fraud in criminal trial

For Alfonso Moya-Breton, the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) may be his ticket to getting out of prison sooner.

As The Salt Lake Tribune’s Brooke Adams reported, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell was wrong when she refused to consider Moya-Breton’s contention that his attorney didn’t tell him about a plea deal that could have shaved six years off his sentences for drug offenses.

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Moya-Breton was able to find the evidence using FOIA as part of his effort to appeal his 30-year prison sentence.

Moya-Breton said his attorney, Ed Brass, had told him that there was no offer of a plea agreement, but the letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Elggren to Brass stated that Moya-Breton’s sentence would be reduced if he would "accept responsibility."

Campbell had ruled the letter was irrelevant because the issue had already been addressed in previous appeals, but the appellate court reversed her ruling.

"Unfortunately, the district court did not distinguish the motion’s fraud allegation … from its other assertions," the appeals court said. "That is a problem."



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