JOYCE v. CITY & COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

846 F.Supp. 843
(Cite as: 846 F.Supp. 843)

Bobby Joe JOYCE, Timothy E. Smith, Thomas O'Halloran and Jim Tullah,

Plaintiffs,

v.

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO,
Defendant.

No. C-93-4149 DLJ.
United States District Court,
N.D. California.

March 15, 1994.

Class of homeless persons brought action against city, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, which challenged program that targeted violation of certain ordinances and thus allegedly penalized homeless persons for engaging in life- sustaining activities. On motion for preliminary injunction against city, the District Court, Jensen, J., held that: (1) proposed injunction was not sufficiently specific to allow for enforcement, and (2) plaintiff class failed to establish likelihood of success on the merits.

Motion denied.

1. INJUNCTION 212132, 138.3

Granting of preliminary injunction constitutes extraordinary use of court's equitable powers, and is to be granted sparingly, with ultimate aim of preserving status quo pending trial on the merits.

2. INJUNCTION 212135, 138.12, 138.18

Decision of whether to grant preliminary injunctive relief is largely left to discretion of court, but such discretion is circumscribed by factors including likelihood that moving party will prevail on the merits and likelihood of harm to parties from granting or denying injunctive relief.

3. INJUNCTION 212138.21

Party seeking preliminary injunctive relief must show either combination of probable success on the merits and possibility of irreparable harm or that serious questions are raised and balance of hardships tips sharply in moving party's favor; additional consideration is whether terms of injunction can be stated with sufficient clarity to permit injunction to be fairly enforced. Fed.Rules Civ.Proc.Rule 65(d), 28 U.S.C.A.

4. CIVIL RIGHTS 78268

Proposed preliminary injunction sought by homeless persons, to prohibit city from conducting program that targeted enforcement of certain ordinances and thus allegedly penalized homeless persons for engaging in life-sustaining activities, lacked sufficient specificity to comply with rule governing granting of injunctions and would not maintain status quo because police would be required to take affirmative steps in enforcing ordinances under proposed terms. Fed.Rules Civ.Proc.Rule 65(d), 28 U.S.C.A.

5. CRIMINAL LAW 1101213.7

Eighth Amendment, which is binding on states by operation of Fourteenth Amendment, principally limits types of punishment which can be imposed on convicted defendants, but also imposes substantive limits on which conduct may be designated as criminal. U.S.C.A. Const.Amends. 8, 14.

6. INJUNCTION 212151

Court could consider grievances of all proposed class members in determining whether to grant preliminary injunction, where certification of class had not yet been determined.

7. CIVIL RIGHTS 78235(1)

Injuries alleged by named plaintiffs, in class action seeking preliminary injunction

843

which would prohibit city from enforcing program that targeted violation of certain ordinances and thus allegedly penalized homeless persons for engaging in life-sustaining activities, were sufficient to invoke consideration of Eighth Amendment, though none of named plaintiffs had been convicted of violating ordinances at issue; one named plaintiff's payment of fine imposed by citation for violating ordinance was sufficient to subject program to Eighth Amendment analysis. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 8.

8. CIVIL RIGHTS 78268, CRIMINAL LAW 1101213.8(6)

Class of homeless persons failed to establish violation of Eighth Amendment warranting preliminary injunction which would prohibit city from enforcing program that targeted violation of certain ordinances and thus allegedly penalized homeless persons for engaging in life-sustaining activities; class failed to show likelihood of success on merits of Eighth Amendment claim because program did not punish homeless persons for their "status," but rather for their conduct. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 8.

9. CRIMINAL LAW 1101213.8(6)

Factors to be considered in determining whether challenged law punishes group of persons for their "status," in violation of Eighth Amendment, include involuntariness of acquisition of that characteristic and degree to which individual has control over characteristic. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 8.

10. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 92211(1)

Violation of equal protection necessarily includes finding of governmental action undertaken with intent to discriminate against particular individual or class of individuals; such intent may be evinced by statutory language or in instances where impact which cannot be explained on neutral ground unmasks invidious discrimination. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

11. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 92211(1)

Neutral law found to have disproportionately adverse effect upon minority classification will be deemed to violate equal protection only if impact can be traced to discriminatory purpose. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

12. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 92225.1

Class of homeless persons failed to establish equal protection violation warranting preliminary injunction which would prohibit city from enforcing program that targeted violation of certain ordinances and thus allegedly penalized homeless persons for engaging in life-sustaining activities; class failed to show likelihood of success on merits of equal protection claim, because city's action was not taken with evinced intent to discriminate against identifiable group and program included directives for ensuring nondiscriminatory enforcement. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

13. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 92213.1(1)

Only where challenged governmental action is aimed at suspect classification, such as race or gender, or premised upon exercise of fundamental right, will action be subjected to heightened scrutiny under equal protection clause. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

14. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 92225.1

"Right to sleep" was not fundamental right which would subject governmental action interfering with such right to heightened scrutiny under equal protection clause. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

15. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 92213.1(2)

Legislature's discriminatory purpose in enacting particular law might not invalidate measure otherwise subject to rational basis review under equal protection clause. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

16. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 92225.1

Strict scrutiny of city program that targeted violation of certain ordinances and thus allegedly penalized homeless persons for engaging in life-sustaining activities, under equal protection clause, could not be justified on basis that program constituted impermissible burden on right to travel; program did not facially discriminate between residents and nonresidents of city. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

17. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 92211(3)

Class of homeless persons was not required to establish that police officers acted

844

pursuant to "official policy or custom" in enforcing ordinance that prohibited constructing of structure for housing accommodations or camping in city park in allegedly discriminatory manner, in order to establish liability of city for unconstitutional enforcement of ordinance, where class sought prospective relief only. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

18. CIVIL RIGHTS 78268

Class of homeless persons was not entitled to preliminarily enjoin city from enforcing ordinance that prohibited constructing of structure for housing accommodations or camping in city park in manner which allegedly discriminated against homeless persons, in light of city's continued education of police officers as to proper enforcement of ordinance and fact that many alleged violations occurred prior to such instructions; class failed to demonstrate continuing injury warranting injunction. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

19. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 9282(4)

Overbreadth of statute is challenge which may be successfully leveled only where First Amendment concerns are at stake. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 1.

20. MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS 268594(2)

Class of homeless persons failed to establish that city and state laws prohibiting construction of structure for housing accommodations or camping in city park and lodging in structure or place without permission of owner were unconstitutionally vague in all of their possible applications; thus, class was not entitled to preliminary injunction prohibiting city from enforcing such laws. West's Ann.Cal.Penal Code 647(i); U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.

21. SEARCHES AND SEIZURES 34923

Seizure of property is deemed unreasonable under Fourth Amendment if government's legitimate interest in search or seizure does not outweigh individual's interest in property seized. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 4.

22. SEARCHES AND SEIZURES 34928 Proposition that property owner has no reasonable expectation of privacy when property is left unattended in public place is true only where property is intentionally abandoned. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 4.

23. CIVIL RIGHTS 78268

Police officers' alleged confiscation and destruction of private property belonging to homeless persons did not entitle class of homeless persons to preliminary injunction prohibiting city from enforcing program that targeted violation of certain ordinances and thus allegedly penalized homeless persons for engaging in life-sustaining activities, in light of city's recent promulgation of policy to address methods of storing property which comes into police possession and fact that alleged likelihood of recurrence was merely speculative. West's Ann.Cal.Civ.Code 1808, 2080.7; U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 4.

Bradley S. Phillips, Stephen M. Kristovich, Jeffrey L. Bleich, and Martin D. Bern, of Munger, Tolles & Olson, San Francisco, CA and Marcia Rosen, and Diane T. Chin, of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, appeared on behalf of plaintiffs.

Linda M. Ross, and Dennis Aftergut, of the San Francisco City Attorneys' Office and Donald J. Putterman, of Farella, Braun & Martel and Henry J. Escher III of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Robertson & Falk, San Francisco, appeared on behalf of defendant.

Opinion Continued


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