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Court Rules that Michigan State Police Must Disclose Information About MATRIX in ACLU Lawsuit
 
February 4, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: media@aclu.org

DETROIT - A judge ruled today that an American Civil Liberties Union of
Michigan lawsuit, which challenges state police participation in the
Multi-State Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange (MATRIX), can move forward
with discovery. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the organization and
three individuals, including former Michigan Governor William Milliken and a
Catholic nun, who say that MATRIX is out-of-step with state law.

"Today's ruling will finally allow the sun to shine on the government's
methods of sharing private information on law-abiding citizens," said ACLU
of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss.

Since 2003, the Michigan State Police Department has provided not only
criminal record data, but also driver's licenses, motor vehicle registration
records, credit histories and marriage and divorce records to MATRIX, which
is owned by a private company in Boca Raton, Florida.
The program ties together government and commercial databases for the
purpose of conducting detailed searches on particular individuals and to
search for patterns in the data. According to the ACLU, MATRIX contains a
vast array of non-criminal information on Michigan residents, including
information that is speculative, inaccurate and possibly constitutionally
protected.

Records that have been or will be shared by the Michigan State Police with
MATRIX include Gov. Milliken's driver's license and motor vehicle
registration as well as the arrest records of Sister Elizabeth LaForest, a
peace activist and co-plaintiff in the case who has been arrested and
convicted of trespassing for participating in non-violent anti-war protests.


According to the lawsuit, police involvement in MATRIX violates Michigan's
Interstate Law Enforcement Intelligence Organizations Act, which was signed
into law by Gov. Milliken in 1980 to prevent unsupervised and uncontrolled
access to information about individuals.
At the time the law was passed, Michigan law enforcement agencies were
participating in an intelligence network similar to MATRIX for the purpose
of fighting organized crime. However, they were also using the information
to spy on individuals engaged in constitutionally protected political
advocacy. The ACLU is concerned that MATRIX is vulnerable to the same
abuses.

"Because of the enormous power and inherent danger in this type of system,
it is vital that MATRIX operates in an open and accountable manner," Moss
said. "We will now be able to proceed to 'discovery' and determine if
records are being compiled on innocent citizens."

The next hearing date has been set for August 18, 2005 in Wayne County
Circuit Court before Judge Warfield Moore.

For more information about MATRIX, go to www.aclu.org/matrix

To read the complaint, go to:
http://www.aclumich.org/modules.php?name=Sections&op=viewarticle&artid=118


To read the reply brief, go to:
http://www.aclumich.org/pdf/briefs/MATRIXreplybrief.pdf

To read the affidavits, go to:
http://www.aclumich.org/pdf/briefs/MATRIXaffidavits.pdf