S. Steven Maese is a self-taught amateur
attorney with less gravitas than death-row
inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal but more tenacity
than a swarm of Africanized bees.
Maese, 32, is also a convicted pimp
(though he’s appealing) and former coowner
of the Doll House escort service.
Already famous—and infamous—for hiring
a private investigator to track the Salt
Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller
in 2007, Maese (pronounced my-AY-say) is
becoming a perpetual government gadfly
with a keen taste for exposing law-enforcement
Murray City stepped into the Maese beehive
last year by denying him the names of
police officers whose disciplinary records
Maese had been provided through a publicrecords
request, though the officers’ names
were blacked out. Maese has spent countless
hours researching the law and litigating
the case to obtain the officers’ names.
“When government pushes back against
you, people have a duty to ensure government
is complying with the law,” Maese said.
“If more people did what I’m doing, we would
have a lot less government problems.”
The public-records battle with Murray
began quietly underneath the drama of the
Doll House saga, which Maese says is totally
unrelated to his dispute with Murray.
In 2007, Maese says, he was charged
with interfering with his arrest by Murray
City, though he wasn’t arrested.
“I called a cop an asshole,” Maese admits,
adamantly proclaiming that such a statement
is legal free speech. “I told him he was
short and had ‘little man’s disease’ and just
because he has authority doesn’t mean it’s
always an option to use that authority.”
Maese’s recent Utah history of challenging
authority has been documented in
dozens of news articles over the past three
years, including in the City Weekly (see the
May 28, 2008 “Grudge Match”). He filed
an appeal of his conviction this month but,
at present, at least, Maese is a convicted
pimp who served 40 days in jail on a 60-day
sentence earlier this year for his past ownership
of the Doll House. His case made
news largely because of his high-profile
friends. His then-fiancé Kelly Ann Booth
dropped out of a legislative race when
her connection to Maese was published.
Maese’s friend and veteran prosecutor,
Kent Morgan, was fired last year by the Salt
Lake District Attorney’s Office—although
he recently was reinstated—after he was
accused of leaking information to Maese.
Soon after the incident in which Maese
took on the Murray cop, Maese complained
about the officer’s conduct to a Murray
Police sergeant. A charge against Maese and
a summons to appear in court, he said, came
soon after. He thinks it was retaliation. The
charge was dismissed before the recordsrequest
battle began, court records show.
But, the experience stoked Maese’s
indignation: How often do citizens complain
about Murray Police officers and how does
the department react to those complaints?
Maese cited Utah’s Government Records
Access and Management Act to request all
records of sustained police discipline for the
last five years. Murray provided eight records,
none of which, Maese said, originated with a
citizen’s complaint. Falling asleep in a patrol
car and using a police car for a beer run were
some of the bad acts, Maese said.
Maese appealed Murray’s denial of the
names of the officers to the seven-member
Utah Records Committee, which sided with
Maese on June 19, 2008. On July 11, the
same day Maese was convicted of exploiting
prostitution, Murray challenged the
records committee’s decision with a complaint
filed in 3rd District Court.
Murray Police Department declined to
comment on this case but referred City
Weekly to its law firm. Andrew Morse and
two other attorneys from Snow, Christensen
& Martineau represent Murray City. Morse
says the city wants an independent judge
to weigh the public’s right to know versus
the officers’ rights to privacy.
Maese maintains the records committee
already balanced the interests, finding
the officers had no expectation of privacy
for proven misconduct.
Failed legislation in 2008 and 2009 sought to legalize government denials of the disciplinary records that Maese, news media, defense attorneys and others seek. But, even if the law were changed, Maese could still get what he wants next.
“My next records request is how much
(Murray City) is spending on this,” Maese
said. “How many dollars have they spent trying
to avoid complying with the law?”