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Case Name Fitzgerald v. County of Orange FA-CA-0009
Docket / Court 8:11-cv-01355-JVS-MLG ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization ACLU of Southern California
Case Summary
On September 7, 2011, an individual resident of Orange County, California, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Article 1, § 2 of the California Constitution against Orange County. The plaintiff, represented by the ACLU of ... read more >
On September 7, 2011, an individual resident of Orange County, California, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Article 1, § 2 of the California Constitution against Orange County. The plaintiff, represented by the ACLU of Southern California, claimed that the Orange County Board of Supervisors (the Board) violated his federal and state constitutional rights by silencing him at a public meeting. He asked the court for injunctive relief, damages, and judgment that the Orange County rules regarding speech at county board meetings unconstitutionally limit speech under the United States and California Constitutions. On March 22, 2012, the Plaintiff amended the complaint to include a request for a declaration that the Orange County rules were unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff claimed that when he criticized the Board at several public meetings, he was forced to stop speaking in violation of his freedom of speech. Specifically, plaintiff claimed that at a meeting on July 27, 2010 he was forced to stop speaking prior to the completion of his allotted time and followed back to his seat by a member of the Board. Plaintiff also claimed that at a meeting on August 23, 2011 he was interrupted prior to the completion of his allotted time and escorted out of the meeting. Finally, Plaintiff claimed that because he has been silenced because the Board disagrees with his viewpoint in the past, his fear of being silenced in the future is preventing him from exercising his right to speak at public meetings of the Board.

On July 20, 2012, the Court (Judge James Selna) entered an order denying the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and partially granting the Board's counter-motion for summary judgment. The Court found that the individual defendants were protected by qualified immunity and that the Orange County rules were constitutionally applied to Plaintiff, but that the broad constitutional challenge to the Orange County rules could proceed.

The case proceeded to trial in August 2012, and the Court (Judge James Selna) entered judgment in favor of the Board on September 21, 2012, without opinion. The plaintiff appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on September 25, 2012. On April 17, 2014, the Court of Appeals (Judges Morgan Christen, Sidney Thomas, and Milan Smith) upheld the District Court's decision in favor of the Board. The Court found that even though the District Court incorrectly granted summary judgment on the constitutional challenge, the challenge failed on the merits of Plaintiff's claim. 570 Fed.Appx. 653. This ended the case.

Edward Mroczkowski - 02/02/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Orange County
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff is an private citizen who believes that his rights were violated when he was silenced at a local government meeting.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU of Southern California
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing Unknown
Docket(s)
8:11-cv-01355-JVS-MLG (C.D. Cal.) 06/26/2014
FA-CA-0009-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Normal Damages 09/07/2011
FA-CA-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Normal Damages 03/12/2012
FA-CA-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment or in the alternative Summary Adjudication 07/20/2012 (C.D. Cal.)
FA-CA-0009-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Mandate and opinion 06/26/2014 (570 Fed.Appx. 653)
FA-CA-0009-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Christen, Morgan (Ninth Circuit)
FA-CA-0009-0003
Selna, James V. (C.D. Cal.)
FA-CA-0009-0004 | FA-CA-0009-9000
Smith, Milan Dale Jr. (Ninth Circuit)
FA-CA-0009-0003
Thomas, Sidney Runyan (Ninth Circuit)
FA-CA-0009-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Chavez, Lucero (California)
FA-CA-0009-9000
Eliasberg, Peter J. (California)
FA-CA-0009-9000
Helzer, Belinda Escobosa (California)
FA-CA-0009-0001 | FA-CA-0009-9000
Vakili, Bardis (California)
FA-CA-0009-0002 | FA-CA-0009-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Harman, James Clement (California)
FA-CA-0009-9000
Pejeau, Elizabeth Anne (California)
FA-CA-0009-9000
Phillips, Wendy J. (California)
FA-CA-0009-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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