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Bell v. City of Boise

United States District Court, D. Idaho

January 27, 2014

JANET F. BELL, BRIAN S. CARSON, ROBERT MARTIN, LAWRENCE LEE SMITH, ROBERT ANDERSON, PAMELA S. HAWKES, JAMES M. GODFREY, and BASIL E. HUMPHREY, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF BOISE; BOISE POLICE DEPARTMENT; and MICHAEL MASTERSON, in his official capacity as Chief of Police, Defendants

For Janet F. Bell, Brian S. Carson, Robert Martin, Lawerence Lee Smith, Robert Anderson, Pamela Hawkes, Basil E. Humphrey, James M. Godfrey, Plaintiffs: Aziz Ahmad, Rebecca Valentine, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Latham & Watkins LLP, Washington, DC; Eric S Tars, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, Washington, DC; Howard A Belodoff, LEAD ATTORNEY, Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc, Boise, ID; Marguerite Sullivan, PRO HAC VICE, Latham & Watkins, Washington, DC.

For City of Boise, Idaho, Boise Police Department, Michael Masterson, Defendants: Scott B Muir, LEAD ATTORNEY, Boise City Attorney's Office, Boise, ID; Kelley K. Fleming, City of Boise, Boise, ID.

OPINION

Page 1238

Honorable Ronald E. Bush, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' SECOND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' Second Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 141). The Court has carefully reviewed the record, considered oral arguments, and now enters the following Order granting, in part, and denying, in part, Defendants' Motion.

SUMMARY OF THE DECISION

The Plaintiffs are individuals who either are or were homeless in Boise and they allege that Defendants (Boise City and its Police Department) have criminalized the status of being homeless by the manner in which Defendants enforce Boise City ordinances [1] prohibiting (as a practical matter) camping and sleeping in public. Defendants now seek summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claim that Defendants' enforcement

Page 1239

actions violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

In ruling on Defendants' previous summary judgment motion, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs' claims on jurisdictional and mootness grounds. Order (Dkt. 115). On Plaintiffs' appeal from that decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed this Court's decision as to whether this federal court has jurisdiction to consider the claims, but did " not reach the merits of Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment challenges" on appeal. Bell v. City of Boise, 709 F.3d 890, 892-96 (9th Cir. 2013).

This Court on remand also does not reach the underlying merits of Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment claims. Those claims are largely barred by the so-called " favorable-termination" requirement of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994). In Heck, the United States Supreme Court held that, " in order to recover damages for [an] allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a . . . plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus." Id. at 486-87.

Plaintiffs could have raised their argument of Eighth Amendment unconstitutionality as a defense to their criminal prosecutions and on direct appeal. A decision in their favor on such claims in this case would necessarily imply the invalidity of their prior convictions or sentences. As a consequence, such claims cannot be prosecuted in this case under the holding in Heck. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss all claims for relief that seek expungement from Plaintiffs' records of any camping and sleeping ordinance violations, reimbursement for any fines or incarceration costs, recovery of damages for the alleged civil rights violations, and any other claim or recovery that seeks relief for events that have already occurred and necessarily would imply the invalidity of Plaintiffs' convictions.

The dismissal does not, however, extend to Plaintiffs' request for a declaratory judgment under 28 U.S.C. § § 2201 and 2202. That claim seeks prospective relief -- i.e., a declaration stating that Defendants' present and threatened future actions in enforcing the Ordinances violate Plaintiffs' rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and the Idaho Constitution (Article I, § 6).[2] Further, this claim is not precluded by the doctrine of res judicata, and it remains to be determined on the merits. The Court will ...


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