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Case Name Bell v. City of Boise CJ-ID-0002
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-00540-REB ( D. Idaho )
Additional Docket(s) 15-35845  [ 15-35845 ]  Federal Court of Appeals
State/Territory Idaho
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On October 22, 2009, homeless individuals represented by Idaho Legal Services and the National Center on Homelessness and Poverty filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho against the City of Boise. The plaintiffs had been cited under a pair of Boise municipal ... read more >
On October 22, 2009, homeless individuals represented by Idaho Legal Services and the National Center on Homelessness and Poverty filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho against the City of Boise. The plaintiffs had been cited under a pair of Boise municipal ordinances that made it illegal to sleep or camp in public parks and other public areas, despite the lack of available beds at the city's shelters. The complaint alleged that criminalizing homelessness in this manner constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and a violation of the plaintiffs' due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs sought an injunction against the enforcement of the ordinances, damages under federal civil rights law, and declaratory and injunctive relief voiding the plaintiffs' prior citations and holding the ordinances unconstitutional.

The city sought and won a motion for summary judgment, entered by Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush on July 6, 2011. 834 F. Supp.2d 1103. Judge Bush held that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated that the ordinance criminalized homelessness. In addition, the court said that the claims had been mooted by subsequent clarifications of enforcement protocols by the Boise police and an amendment to the ordinance that provided a more precise definition of "camping."

The plaintiffs appealed, and the case was reversed and remanded by the Ninth Circuit on March 7, 2013. 709 F.3d 890. In an opinion issued by a panel consisting of Judges Susan Black, Susan Graber, and Johnnie Rawlinson, the court determined that the plaintiffs' claims for backward-looking relief were not jurisdictionally barred since they did not seek relief from the state court itself. The court further held the plaintiffs' claims for prospective relief had not been mooted by the defendants' new "voluntary conduct" in the form of protocols and amendments for the enforcement of the ordinances.

On remand, the defendant filed for summary judgment again on August 15, 2013. The district court issued an opinion on January 27 2014, granting the the motion for summary judgment as to the damages claims because the plaintiffs had not yet had their convictions overturned via direct appeal. At the court's direction, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint omitting the damages claims, with the request for prospective injunctive and declaratory judgment as the only surviving claim.

The defendant filed a motion to dismiss on December 31, 2014, asserting that the plaintiffs could no longer bring their claims because some plaintiffs could not be located by counsel and others had no active disputes with the defendants. The plaintiffs filed for summary judgment on April 30, 2015. On July 6, 2015, the United States filed a statement of interest, detailing its support of the plaintiffs' position, arguing that the court must consider whether it was possible for homeless residents like the plaintiffs to conform their conduct to the ordinances when shelters were full.

On September 28, 2015, Judge Bush issued an opinion again dismissing the suit in its entirety. 2015 WL 5708586. The opinion held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the ordinances because the defendants had further amended the ordinances to make exceptions for circumstances where shelters were full, mooting the plaintiffs claims.

The plaintiffs appealed again to the Ninth Circuit on October 29, 2015 (15-35845). On September 4, 2018, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit of Judges Marsha Berzon, Paul Watford, and John Owens reversed. 902 F.3d 1031. The Ninth Circuit held the Eighth Amendment prohibited Boise from enforcing the ordinances against homeless residents forced to sleep outside by a lack of shelter space. The court also held that two of the plaintiffs in the suit had shown they could be eligible for retrospective injunctive relief that could vacate their previous citations, and injunctive relief banning future enforcement of the ordinances. The case was remanded again to the District Court.

The defendants had filed a motion for rehearing en banc by the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as of November 6, 2018. The case remains ongoing.

Sarah Prout - 08/25/2015
Nathaniel Flack - 11/06/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Right to travel
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Pattern or Practice
Placement in shelters
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) City of Boise
Plaintiff Description Individuals who either are or have been homeless and living in Boise.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2009
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:09-cv-00540-REB (D. Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/11/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Monetary Damages [ECF# 1]
CJ-ID-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order [ECF# 115] (834 F.Supp.2d 1103) (D. Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/06/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Appellate decision reversing and remanding order for summary disposition] [Ct. of App. ECF# 122] (709 F.3d 890)
CJ-ID-0002-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/07/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order on Defendants' Second Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 154] (D. Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/27/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order on Defendants' Motion to Strike and Dismiss Portions of the Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 170] (D. Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/16/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Revised Second Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 171]
CJ-ID-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/31/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [protective order] [ECF# 195] (D. Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 243]
CJ-ID-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States [ECF# 276]
CJ-ID-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Opinion [ECF# 298] (2015 WL 5708586) (D. Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/28/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 66] (902 F.3d 1031)
CJ-ID-0002-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/04/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Black, Susan Harrell (M.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit)
CJ-ID-0002-0005
Boyle, Larry M. (D. Idaho) [Magistrate]
CJ-ID-0002-9000
Bush, Ronald E. (D. Idaho) [Magistrate]
CJ-ID-0002-0002 | CJ-ID-0002-0003 | CJ-ID-0002-0007 | CJ-ID-0002-0008 | CJ-ID-0002-0010 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ahmad, Aziz (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-9000
Ahmed, Aziz (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Belodoff, Howard A. (Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-0006 | CJ-ID-0002-0009 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Bendor, Catherine (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Cheng, Katherine M. (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-0009 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Copeland, Kysta (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-0006 | CJ-ID-0002-0009 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Cunningham, Karen (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Donley, Greer B. (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0009 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Gardner, Allen M. (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0009 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Johnson, Heather (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Jones, Scott (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-0009 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Levy, Daniel (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-0009 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Maltas, Allyson (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
O'Malley, Kristi (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Ozdeger, Talin (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Rosen, Jeremy N. (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0006 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Scheffler, Kristen (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Stark, Jared (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-0006 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Sullivan, Marguerite M. (Virginia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-0006 | CJ-ID-0002-0009 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Tars, Eric S. (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0006 | CJ-ID-0002-0009 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Valentine, Rebecca (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0001 | CJ-ID-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bilyeu, Valencia J. (Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-9000
Fleming, Kelley (Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-9000
Hall, Brady James (Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-9000
Moore, Michael W. (Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-9000
Muir, Scott (Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-9000
Other Lawyers Bains, Chiraag (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Brett, Sharon (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Bullock, Robert B. (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Foster, Lisa A. (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Hill, Eve L. (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Jweied, Maha (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Mygatt, Timothy D (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Olson, Wendy J. (Idaho)
CJ-ID-0002-0004
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia)
CJ-ID-0002-0004

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