University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Sanchez v. Acevedo PN-TX-0003
Docket / Court 11-cv-00993 ( W.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Policing
Special Collection Occupy
Case Summary
On November 21, 2011, two protesters associated with Occupy Austin, a large continuous political protest, who had been arrested for trespassing, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas against the City of Austin and a number city employees in their ... read more >
On November 21, 2011, two protesters associated with Occupy Austin, a large continuous political protest, who had been arrested for trespassing, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas against the City of Austin and a number city employees in their official capacities. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, claimed that the City of Austin's administrative policy of issuing "Criminal Trespass Notices" banning individuals from city property, including City Hall, imposes a prior restraint on their First Amendment rights of expression. They sued under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for violations of their First Amendment and Due Process rights.

Specifically, plaintiffs claimed these trespass notices were overbroad and vague, delegating unrestrained discretionary authority to a wide range of city employees to ban any individual from any or all city property for substantial periods, solely because that individual's conduct is subjectively viewed as "unreasonably disruptive or harmful." The City of Austin had provided its employees with a chart of suggested duration of exclusions based on descriptions of the disruptive or harmful conduct. Conduct was described in terms of the level of harm to persons or property, the level of disruption to City business or events, and the presence of similar past conduct. Each of these factors was measured with three imprecise quantifying terms, "no" "some" and "significant," with each quantifier receiving substantially differing suggested exclusion durations. Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief stating that the city's trespassing law is facially unconstitutional as well as injunctive relief against further enforcement of the policy.

On December 22, 2011, the District Court (Judge Lee Yeakel) partially granted defendants' motions to dismiss. The court found that the plaintiffs' claims against the city employees were redundant of the plaintiff's claims against the City of Austin. The court therefore dismissed the plaintiffs claims against the individual defendants in their official capacities and without prejudice to claims against those defendants in their individual capacities.

On September 27, 2012, the District Court (Judge Lee Yeakel) found that the city's administrative bulletin Criminal Trespass Notices on City Property, was unconstitutional on its face and enjoined the City of Austin from further enforcement of the City's policy of issuing criminal-trespass notices. The court found that by barring access to the City Plaza, which the court recognized as a traditional public forum, the trespassing notices restricted protected-speech conduct. The court held that the policy burdened more speech than was necessary to secure the City of Austin's substantial government interests of control and maintenance of public property, and to provide city-owned facilities for business and other approved activities, and thus was not narrowly tailored. Finally, the court held that the policy was impermissibly broad and risked erroneous deprivation of first amendment interests.

On October 5, 2012 the City of Austin filed a motion to amend the judgment. The District Court (Judge Lee Yeakel) denied that motion on February 4, 2013.

Richard Jolly - 05/15/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
General
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Art Acevedo
City Council
City Manager
City of Austin
Deputy City Manager
Mayor
Plaintiff Description Occupy Austin protesters
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
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)
1:11-cv-993 (W.D. Tex.) 12/09/2013
PN-TX-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 11/21/2011
PN-TX-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint 12/01/2011
PN-TX-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting in Part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss] 12/22/2011 (W.D. Tex.)
PN-TX-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law 09/27/2012 (W.D. Tex.)
PN-TX-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment 09/27/2012 (W.D. Tex.)
PN-TX-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Yeakel, Earl Leroy III (W.D. Tex.)
PN-TX-0003-0003 | PN-TX-0003-0004 | PN-TX-0003-0005 | PN-TX-0003-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bates, Ryan P. (Texas)
PN-TX-0003-0001 | PN-TX-0003-0002 | PN-TX-0003-9000
Dawson, Edward (Texas)
PN-TX-0003-0001 | PN-TX-0003-0002 | PN-TX-0003-9000
Harrington, James C (Texas)
PN-TX-0003-0001 | PN-TX-0003-0002 | PN-TX-0003-9000
McGiverin, Brian Rolland (Texas)
PN-TX-0003-0001 | PN-TX-0003-0002 | PN-TX-0003-9000
Rotman, Anna (Texas)
PN-TX-0003-0001 | PN-TX-0003-0002 | PN-TX-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Edwards, Christine G. (Texas)
PN-TX-0003-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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