Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Verlo v. Martinez

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

April 8, 2016

ERIC VERLO; JANET MATZEN; and FULLY INFORMED JURY ASSOCIATION, Plaintiffs - Appellees,
v.
THE HONORABLE MICHAEL MARTINEZ, in his official capacity as Chief Judge of the Second Judicial District, Defendant - Appellant,
v.
THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, COLORADO, a municipality; ROBERT C. WHITE, in his official capacity as Denver Chief of Police, Defendants - Appellees

Page 1114

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1115

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1116

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1117

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. (D.C. No. 1:15-CV-01775-WJM-MJW).

         Stephanie Lindquist Scoville, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Colorado, Denver, Colorado (Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General; Frederick R. Yarger, Solicitor General; Matthew D. Grove, Assistant Solicitor General; Ralph L. Carr, Colorado Judicial Center, Denver, Colorado, with her on the briefs) for Defendant - Appellant.

         David A. Lane, Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiffs - Appellees.

         Wendy J. Shea, Assistant City Attorney; Geoffrey C. Klingsporn, Assistant City Attorney; Evan P. Lee, Assistant City Attorney; Cristina Peña Helm, Assistant City Attorney, Denver City Attorney's Office, Denver, Colorado, filed a brief on behalf of Defendants - Appellees.

         Before BRISCOE, McKAY, and McHUGH, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

Page 1118

          McHUGH, Circuit Judge.

         This is an interlocutory appeal challenging the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction, enjoining in part the enforcement of an administrative order (Order) issued by Defendant-Appellant Judge Michael Martinez, acting in his official capacity as Chief Judge of the Second Judicial District of Colorado (Judicial District). The Order prohibits all expressive activities within an area immediately surrounding the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver (Courthouse). Plaintiffs-Appellees Eric Verlo, Janet Matzen, and the Fully Informed Jury Association (collectively, Plaintiffs) sought the preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the Order against their expressive activities. Following an evidentiary hearing, the district court enjoined enforcement of a portion of the Order as against Plaintiffs. The Judicial District now appeals.

         Based on the arguments made and evidence presented at the preliminary injunction hearing, we hold the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Plaintiffs' motion in part. Although we affirm the district court's order granting a limited preliminary injunction, we express no opinion as to whether a permanent injunction should issue. Instead, we provide guidance to the district court and the parties regarding the factual inquiry and the applicable legal standard relevant to that question on remand.

Page 1119

         I. BACKGROUND

         The genesis of this case is an incident involving nonparties. On July 27, 2015, two men were distributing pamphlets on the plaza outside the Courthouse (Plaza). The pamphlets contained information about jury nullification, a practice in which a jury refuses to convict a defendant despite legal evidence of guilt because the jury members believe the law at issue is immoral.[1] Both men were arrested and charged with jury tampering in violation of Colorado law. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-8-609(1) ( " A person commits jury-tampering if, with intent to influence a jury's vote, opinion, decision, or other action in a case, he attempts directly or indirectly to communicate with a juror other than as a part of the proceedings in the trial of the case." ).

         Plaintiffs, like the men who were arrested, wish to distribute literature relating to and advocating for jury nullification to individuals approaching the Courthouse who might be prospective jurors. Fearing they too would be subject to arrest, Plaintiffs brought suit against the City and County of Denver and Robert C. White, Denver's police chief, in his official capacity (collectively, Denver) to establish their First Amendment right to engage in this activity. On the same day they filed suit, Plaintiffs also moved for a preliminary injunction, seeking to restrain Defendants from taking action to prevent Plaintiffs from distributing jury nullification literature on the Plaza. Two days later, Plaintiffs amended their complaint to also challenge the Order issued by the Judicial District.

         That Order, entitled Chief Judge Order Regarding Expressive Activities at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, states in relevant part:

The Court has the responsibility and authority to ensure the safe and orderly use of the facilities of the Second Judicial District; to minimize activities which unreasonably disrupt, interrupt, or interfere with the orderly and peaceful conduct of court business in a neutral forum free of actual or perceived partiality, bias, prejudice, or favoritism; to provide for the fair and orderly conduct of hearings and trials; to promote the free flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic on sidewalks and streets; and to maintain proper judicial decorum. Those having business with the courts must be able to enter and exit the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse freely, in a safe and orderly fashion and unhindered by threats, confrontation, interference, or harassment. Accordingly, the Court hereby prohibits certain expressive activities on the grounds of the Courthouse, without regard to the content of any particular message, idea, or form of speech.
Prohibited Activities: The activities listed below shall be prohibited in the following areas: anywhere inside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, including courtrooms, corridors, hallways, and lobbies; the areas, lawns, walkways, or roadways between the Courthouse and public sidewalks and roads; and any areas, walkways, or roadways that connect public sidewalks and roads to Courthouse entrances or exits. This includes, but is not limited to, the Courthouse entrance plaza areas on the east and west sides of the Courthouse as

Page 1120

depicted in the highlighted areas of the attached map.
1. Demonstrating; picketing; protesting; marching; parading; holding vigils or religious services; proselytizing or preaching; distributing literature or other materials, or engaging in similar conduct that involves the communication or expression of views or grievances; soliciting sales or donations; or engaging in any commercial activity; unless specifically authorized in writing by administration;
2. Obstructing the clear passage, entry, or exit of law enforcement and emergency vehicles and personnel, Courthouse personnel, and other persons having business with the courts through Courthouse parking areas, entrances, and roadways to and from Courthouse and Courthouse grounds;
3. Erecting structures or other facilities, whether for a single proceeding or intended to remain in place until the conclusion of a matter; or placing tents, chairs, tables, or similar items on Courthouse grounds; except as specifically authorized in writing by administration; and
4. Using sound amplification equipment in a manner that harasses or interferes with persons entering or leaving Courthouse grounds or persons waiting in line to enter the Courthouse.

         The Order was accompanied by an image depicting an aerial view of the Courthouse and its grounds, with the areas in which the Order prohibited expressive activity highlighted in yellow (Restricted Areas).

Page 1121

         The Courthouse is bordered on its north side by Colfax Avenue and on its west side by Fox Street. Both Colfax Avenue and Fox Street have public sidewalks running along the perimeter of the Courthouse. Immediately to the east of the Courthouse lies the Plaza. The Plaza is bisected by Elati Street, which is closed to traffic other than police vehicles. Elati Street runs through a large circular area (Main Plaza) between the Courthouse and the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center (Detention Center), which houses pretrial detainees. The Main Plaza contains planters, benches, public artwork, sidewalks, and gravel areas and is suitable for public gatherings.

         Of relevance to this appeal are the Restricted Areas, which include an arc-

Page 1122

shaped walkway and planter area immediately to the east of the Courthouse. The arced walkway runs from the corner of Elati Street and Colfax Avenue in a curved path across the front of the Courthouse and ends where it intersects with an open area in front of the Courthouse containing planters and benches (the Patio), which also forms part of the Restricted Areas. The Patio provides access to the main entrance on the east side of the Courthouse. Thus, the Restricted Areas encompass only the portions of the Plaza closest to the Courthouse.

         The Judicial District opposed Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and, in doing so, defended the Order. In contrast, Denver entered into a joint stipulation (the Stipulation) with Plaintiffs. The Stipulation asserted that the entire Plaza between the Courthouse and the Detention Center--specifically including the Restricted Areas--was " a public forum and any content-based regulations must be narrowly drawn to effectuate a compelling state interest and reasonable time, place and manner regulations." It further acknowledged that Plaintiffs were entitled to distribute jury nullification literature on the Plaza and pledged that Denver would not " arrest or otherwise charge Plaintiffs for handing out literature regarding jury nullification so long as Plaintiffs do not violate Colorado law or Denver's Revised Municipal Code when they are handing out their literature." The Stipulation specifically referenced the Judicial District's Order, indicating Denver did not " intend to enforce [the Order] as written and will only impose content and viewpoint neutral reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on the use of the Plaza, and/or other exterior areas surrounding the Plaza if Denver determines that a compelling need exists to do so."

         At the preliminary injunction hearing, the parties called only two witnesses. Plaintiffs called Commander Antonio Lopez of the Denver Police Department. Commander Lopez described the Plaza as a public " open space" much like the city's various parks. He testified that in the five years since the Courthouse opened he has witnessed " more First Amendment activity take place in [the Plaza] than [he] can recall." Specifically, Commander Lopez described a variety of protest activities " at one point . . . averaging about two or three a week" in the Plaza. He further testified that the Denver Police Department had never taken steps to stop protest activity in the Plaza, other than intervening if protesters became violent or otherwise broke the law. Relevant to this appeal, Commander Lopez testified that in his experience, the entire Plaza--including the Restricted Areas--has traditionally been used for First Amendment protest activities. On cross-examination, Commander Lopez acknowledged that the " majority" of the protests in the Plaza occurred closer to the Detention Center, but that he had also seen protests directed at the Courthouse.

         The Judicial District called Steven Steadman, administrator of judicial security for Colorado. Mr. Steadman testified that the Order was motivated by concern about anticipated protests of a verdict in a death penalty case being tried at the Courthouse. Mr. Steadman explained that he met with Chief Judge Martinez to discuss security concerns relating to that verdict and recommended the Judicial District adopt a policy similar to one recently implemented in Arapahoe County during another high-profile capital trial.

         Mr. Steadman also testified about the design of the Plaza, including the Restricted Areas. He indicated that the planters, gravel areas, and sidewalks were intentionally designed to " signal to the average

Page 1123

user how to find their way, and where you should go and what the main travel ways are." Mr. Steadman explained that the Patio and arced walkway's " sole purpose is to allow people, the public, to enter and exit the [Courthouse] without being interfered with." But Mr. Steadman also stated that, prior to imposition of the Order, protestors--including pamphleteers--were allowed to protest immediately in front of the doors to the Courthouse, provided they did not interfere with ingress or egress from the Courthouse. He explained that the " general response" of protestors was to cease their activities when requested by Courthouse security not to interfere with public access to the Courthouse. Mr. Steadman further testified that no person had ever been arrested for blocking ingress or egress from the Courthouse since it opened in 2010. Important to this appeal, Mr. Steadman acknowledged that Plaintiffs' activities of passing out jury nullification literature did not present " any security risk" beyond what had previously been tolerated without incident throughout the time the Courthouse had been open.

         The district court also accepted a proffer of Plaintiffs' testimony, indicating that their intent was to approach people entering the Courthouse to discuss quietly the concept of jury nullification and to distribute their literature. Plaintiffs asserted that proximity to the front door of the Courthouse was key to their message because otherwise their intended audience--" people who are going to serve or are in fact serving on juries" --will " very frequently just bypass them" in the designated free speech zone by " walking on one of the sidewalks that is part of the [Restricted Areas]." By contrast, positioning themselves near the front door would allow Plaintiffs " to pass out literature to anyone who wants it" and " if people want to stop and talk about [it], they can then explain to them what the concept of jury nullification is." Thus, according to Plaintiffs, the Order effectively prevented them from reaching their target audience. Finally, the district court accepted the parties' jointly stipulated exhibits, which consisted of a series of images of the Plaza and Restricted Areas, as well as a copy of the Order.

         Following the evidentiary hearing, the district court granted Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. In doing so, the district court relied on Denver's Stipulation that the Plaza was a public forum and the Judicial District's position that resolving the forum status was not necessary because the Order " would satisfy even the strictest test." The district court concluded Plaintiffs had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits because, treating the Restricted Areas as public fora, the Order's complete ban on expressive activity was not narrowly tailored to accomplish a significant government interest.

         Accordingly, the district court entered a carefully circumscribed preliminary injunction in favor of Plaintiffs. Specifically, the district court enjoined enforcement of Paragraph 1 of the Order against Plaintiffs " to the extent he or she is otherwise lawfully seeking to distribute and/or orally advocate the message contained in [Plaintiffs' pamphlets]" in the Restricted Areas. But the district court expressly left the remainder of the Order in place.

         Following entry of the preliminary injunction, the Judicial District moved to stay the injunction pending appeal pursuant to Rule 62(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In its motion to stay, the Judicial District introduced evidence that--subsequent to entry of the preliminary injunction--protesters had " descended on the Courthouse Plaza" and engaged in a pattern of disruptive and inappropriate behavior, including erecting canopies,

Page 1124

harassing citizens seeking to enter the Courthouse, damaging the Courthouse landscaping, yelling and taunting court personnel, and posting signs in the planters and on the flagpoles in the Plaza. The Judicial District argued that a stay of the injunction was appropriate because protesters had been " emboldened" by the injunction to violate even the portions of the Order not subject to the injunction, thereby irreparably harming the Judicial District. The district court declined to stay the injunction, finding the Judicial District had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on appeal because the harm identified was not caused by the injunction. The district court reasoned the Judicial District and Denver were free to enforce the Order against the parties engaging in the complained-of disruptive behavior because such behavior was unlawful and not protected by the narrow injunction issued by the court with respect to Plaintiffs' activities only.

         The Judicial District now appeals. Exercising jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1), we affirm.

         II. DISCUSSION

         On appeal, the Judicial District raises two arguments. First, it asserts the district court erred when it concluded the Plaintiffs had demonstrated a likelihood of success in establishing the Restricted Areas are public fora. Second, the Judicial District argues the district court incorrectly applied strict scrutiny when evaluating the Order. As a result, the Judicial District asks this court to reverse the district court's entry of the preliminary injunction and remand for further proceedings.

          We review the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction for abuse of discretion. Planned Parenthood of Kan. & Mid-Mo. v. Moser, 747 F.3d 814, 822 (10th Cir. 2014). " A district court abuses its discretion when it commits an error of law or makes clearly erroneous factual findings." Id.

         A. Scope of Review

         Before addressing the merits of the parties' arguments, we pause to clarify the scope of our review. The district court granted a narrow preliminary injunction drafted to address Plaintiffs' First Amendment concerns related to their specific expressive activities. Although Plaintiffs asked the district court to prohibit enforcement of the entire Order, the court enjoined only the first paragraph, which imposes a complete ban on First Amendment activities--picketing, pamphleteering, protesting--within the Restricted Areas. The district court left in place the rest of the Order, including the prohibitions against obstructing Courthouse entrances, erecting structures, and using sound amplification equipment in the Restricted Areas.

         The district court further limited the scope of the preliminary injunction by enjoining the first paragraph of the Order only as to Plaintiffs' specific pamphleteering activities. In fact, the court enjoined enforcement of the Order only as to Plaintiffs' distribution and discussion of two specifically identified pamphlets. The Judicial District remains free to enforce the first paragraph of the Order--even against Plaintiffs--for all other First Amendment activities within the Restricted Areas.

         Finally, the district court limited the geographic scope of the injunction. Although the Order prohibits First Amendment activity both inside and outside the Courthouse, the district court enjoined enforcement of Paragraph 1 as to Plaintiffs only outside the Courthouse, leaving the entirety of the Order intact within the Courthouse. And the district court did not enjoin enforcement of any part of the Order

Page 1125

within those portions of the Restricted Areas dedicated to Courthouse landscaping and security features. Thus, the Order continues to prohibit all expressive activity in the planter boxes or other landscaping and in the gravel security areas. Accordingly, the features of the Restricted Area to which the preliminary injunction applies are limited to (1) the arced walkway running south from Colfax Avenue between the gravel security area (to the west of the walkway) and a raised planter (to the east of the walkway) and ending at the Patio area at the main entrance on the east side of the Courthouse; [2] and (2) the Patio area at the main entrance.[3]

         Our task in this appeal is to determine whether the district court abused its discretion when, based on the record before it at the preliminary injunction hearing , it issued this narrow, targeted injunction. But the Judicial District asks us to consider events occurring after the preliminary injunction hearing to determine whether the district court abused its discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction. Specifically, the Judicial District points to evidence introduced during the Rule 62(c) hearing on the motion to stay the injunction pending appeal, which indicated that following the injunction, protestors had engaged in a series of inappropriate and disruptive behaviors. Some of these behaviors included harassing court personnel seeking to enter the Courthouse, erecting canopies and signs, and trampling Courthouse landscaping. According to the Judicial District, these post-injunction events demonstrate the " concrete concerns" motivating the creation of the Restricted Areas and therefore should have been considered by the district court.

         Although we share the Judicial District's concern about the disruptions created by some protestors following issuance of the injunction, these post-injunction events are not relevant to our resolution of this interlocutory appeal for two reasons. First, this evidence relates to events occurring after the preliminary injunction issued, and therefore none of it was presented to the district court at the hearing. We will not hold that the district court abused its discretion based on evidence not before it when it ruled. See Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 671 (10th Cir. 1998) (noting the general principle, in the context of de novo review of a summary judgment disposition, that we conduct our review " from the perspective of the district court at the time it made its ruling, ordinarily limiting our review to the materials adequately brought to the attention of the district court by the parties" ); Theriot v. Par. of Jefferson, 185 F.3d 477, 491 n.26 (5th Cir. 1999) (" An appellate court may not consider . . . facts which were not before the district court at the time of the challenged ruling." ). Cf. Ambus v. Granite Bd. of Educ., 975 F.2d 1555, 1569 (10th

Page 1126

Cir. 1992) (" [W]e will not reverse the grant of summary judgment . . . based on evidence not before the district court." ). Accordingly, our review is limited to the evidence before the district court at the time of the preliminary injunction hearing, and we will not consider post-injunction events.

         Second, even if we were to consider the post-decision evidence, it would not alter our analysis. The evidence the Judicial District relies on to demonstrate the negative effects of the preliminary injunction, in fact, does not implicate the injunction at all. As discussed, the preliminary injunction enjoins enforcement of Paragraph 1 of the Order specifically against Plaintiffs' pamphleteering activities in certain parts of the Restricted Areas. The district court expressly allowed the Judicial District to continue enforcing the entire Order as to all other parties and all other First Amendment activities in the Restricted Areas. Importantly, the preliminary injunction does not affect the Judicial District's ability to enforce the Order against any protestors, including the Plaintiffs, who engage in disruptive behaviors. For example, the injunction does not prohibit the Judicial District from taking action against protestors who obstruct Courthouse entrances, damage the Courthouse landscaping, or erect structures. All of this behavior remained prohibited by the Order after issuance of the injunction. In short, nothing in the preliminary injunction before us on appeal interferes with the Judicial District's or Denver's ability to enforce the Order against anyone, including Plaintiffs, engaging in such behavior.

         The evidence of post-injunction bad behavior of some protestors may be relevant on remand to a motion to modify the injunction [4] or to the district court's ultimate decision on whether to issue a permanent injunction. But for the purposes of this appeal, we limit our review to the evidence before the district court at the time it issued the preliminary injunction.

         B. Abuse ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.