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Case Name Botti v. City of Newark PN-NJ-0004
Docket / Court L-958-11 ( State Court )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On February 2, 2011, an animal welfare activist filed this lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County, against the City of Newark under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff, represented by public interest counsel, alleged that his rights to free speech and to be free from unlawful ... read more >
On February 2, 2011, an animal welfare activist filed this lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County, against the City of Newark under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff, represented by public interest counsel, alleged that his rights to free speech and to be free from unlawful seizure were violated when he was arrested for engaging in protected expressive activity on March 7, 2010. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he was arrested for protesting on a public sidewalk outside of the Prudential Center in Essex County. The plaintiff was protesting the treatment of an elephant by the circus that was in town, and claimed that he was arrested after refusing to follow instructions by police officers to stand in a designated "protest zone." This zone was located further away from the Prudential Center and out of the view of circus-goers.

The plaintiff further claimed that the City of Newark had a custom, practice, and policy of restricting and prohibiting expressive activities protected by the First Amendment on sidewalks outside of the Prudential Center. In his complaint, the plaintiff pointed to multiple cases in recent years that brought similar allegations and corroborated this: People's Organization for Progress v. City of Newark, Dkt. No. C-268-04 (Ch. Div. filed July 2004) (which resulted in a Consent Order protecting the rights of individuals seeking to engage in expressive activity on the streets of Newark); Lima v. Newark Police Dept., No. 08-CV-426A (D.N.J. filed Sept. 2007); and Quodimine v. City of Newark, No. 09-3596 (D.N.J. filed Oct. 2009). The plaintiff claimed the City's actions had violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights, as well as rights under the New Jersey Constitution and New Jersey Civil Rights Act. He sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory damages.

On February 23, 2011, the parties reached a settlement by means of a consent order. Although the parties agreed that the order reflected "a compromise of a disputed claim and does not in any way admit liability on the part of Defendants," the City agreed not to restrict the rights of individuals engaging in free speech activity on City sidewalks. Consent Order at 4. The City further agreed to train its police officers and employees who are involved in issuing special events permits about the rights of protesters every six months. The City has an ordinance that requires a permit to be issued for free speech activities when the number of participants is 50 or more. The City also reimbursed the plaintiff's attorney's fees, which amounted to $1600. In return, the plaintiff released the City of any liability arising out of his arrest and agreed to dismiss the case.

Greg in den Berken - 11/12/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Failure to train
False arrest
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Newark
Plaintiff Description The plaintiff is an animal welfare activist who was arrested while protesting on a public sidewalk outside of the Prudential Center in Essex County for failing to stand in a designated "protest zone."
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Verified Complaint 01/26/2011
PN-NJ-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source:
Consent Order [With Settlement Agreement Attached] 02/23/2011
PN-NJ-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source:
Judges Vichness, Paul J. (State Trial Court)
PN-NJ-0004-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barocas, Edward (New Jersey)
PN-NJ-0004-0001 | PN-NJ-0004-0002
Zurofsky, Bennett Dann (New Jersey)
PN-NJ-0004-0001 | PN-NJ-0004-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Torok, Danielle P. (New Jersey)
PN-NJ-0004-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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