University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Britton v. Anderson FA-MS-0004
Docket / Court 3:06-CV-00374 ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
A pro-life organization and its members filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on July 11, 2006. The plaintiffs alleged that police officers from the City of Jackson (City) had infringed on their free speech rights and threatened false arrest in ... read more >
A pro-life organization and its members filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on July 11, 2006. The plaintiffs alleged that police officers from the City of Jackson (City) had infringed on their free speech rights and threatened false arrest in violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The plaintiffs contended these actions were illegal under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various Mississippi state laws.

The plaintiffs argued that the City restricted their free speech at rallies hosted by the plaintiffs outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization, an abortion clinic. At this rally, the plaintiffs claimed they expressed their views about abortion and "offer[ed] literature and sidewalk counseling" outside of the clinic. The City allegedly came to a 2005 rally and told participants they were violating a noise ordinance and needed a permit for their activities. In February 2006, another rally was held. This time, rally participants were allegedly threatened with arrest. Some of the pro-life supporters were arrested. In other protests outside of the clinic, the plaintiffs' private property was seized and never returned.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to prohibit the City from infringing on the plaintiffs' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights on July 17, 2006. District Judge William H. Barbour, Jr., denied that order on July 20, 2006. Subsequently, the plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied by Judge Barbour on July 21, 2006. Two of the defendants, City police officers, filed motions to dismiss on July 31, 2006, claiming that they were entitled to qualified immunity. The case was stayed pending the motions to dismiss. On November 6, 2006, Judge Barbour denied both defendants' motions to dismiss, but allowed the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint clarifying the allegations against one of the defendants. If the plaintiffs failed to file an amended complaint clarifying these allegations, the case would have been dismissed against that particular defendant. An amended complaint was filed on November 22, 2006 and, as a result, the case was not dismissed based on qualified immunity.

Five status/settlement conferences were held on May 11, 2007, June 26, 2007, July 9, 2007, September 13, 2007, and February 15, 2008. An additional status conference scheduled for March 2008 was cancelled because the parties reached a settlement agreement.

Judge Barbour approved a consent decree on March 14, 2008. The consent decree stated that the City was not to engage in any practice that would violate any person's First Amendment rights on sidewalks and rights of way. The City also agreed to enforce all laws, ordinances, and statutes in an even-handed manner and could not threaten to use its noise ordinance unless decibel measuring machines were used. Additionally, the City had to amend its special events ordinance and its sign ordinance. The City was barred from seizing expressive materials from people exercising their First Amendment rights unless all other means were first exhausted. First Amendment training was required for all law enforcement officers in the City. Finally, the City was obligated to pay $15,000 in damages to various plaintiffs and return all fines/expunge all of their criminal records stemming from the events outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization.

The parties were to resolve any disputes on their own and, if those conversations proved futile, were to submit issues to the court for resolution. The court retained jurisdiction of the consent decree through March 2009.

The case is now closed.

Amelia Huckins - 02/21/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Provide antidiscrimination training
Training
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Abortion
Failure to train
False arrest
Loss or damage to property
Sidewalks
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Jackson, Mississippi
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are pro-life advocates.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2008 - 2009
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing FA-MS-0003 : Pro-Life Mississippi v. Horton (S.D. Miss.)
Docket(s)
3:06-cv-374 (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/09/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Civil Rights Violations, Declaratory Judgment, Injunctive Relief, and Damages [ECF# 1]
FA-MS-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/11/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Opinion Denying [ECF# 23] (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/08/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 24]
FA-MS-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/22/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 7-1] (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/14/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Barbour, William Henry Jr. (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0004-0003 | FA-MS-0004-0004 | FA-MS-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Crampton, Stephen M (Virginia)
FA-MS-0004-0001 | FA-MS-0004-0002 | FA-MS-0004-0004 | FA-MS-0004-9000
DePrimo, Michael J (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0004-0001 | FA-MS-0004-0002 | FA-MS-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Gordon, Marvell M. (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0004-9000
Teeuwissen, Pieter (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0004-0004 | FA-MS-0004-9000

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