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Slevin v. Salt Lake County Fair | Complaint

07 December 1999 Published in Litigation Materials

Slevin v. Salt Lake County Fair

STEPHEN C. CLARK USB 4551
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF UTAH
Attorney for Plaintiffs
355 North 300 West Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Telephone: (801) 521-9862

BRIAN M. BARNARD, USB 0215
UTAH LEGAL CLINIC
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Cooperating Attorneys for
American Civil Liberties Union of Utah
214 East Fifth South Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111-3204
Telephone: (801) 328-9531

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH

CENTRAL DIVISION

COMPLAINT

Civil No. 98-CV-

JOHN SLEVIN & JOHN GUIDO, Plaintiffs,

VS.

SALT LAKE COUNTY, a body politic and corporate of the State of Utah; LARRY BROWN, BRYAN GREEN, JOHN DOES I - V and JANE DOES I - V Officers and Agents of Salt Lake County, Defendants.

PLAINTIFFS,

JOHN SLEVIN and JOHN GUIDO by and through counsel, BRIAN M. BARNARD of Utah Legal Clinic, Cooperating Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and STEPHEN C. CLARK, Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Utah as a complaint and as causes of action against the defendants state and allege as follows:

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

1. This action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for improper interference with the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs seek monetary damages. The plaintiffs seek equitable relief. Plaintiffs seek attorney fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1988.

JURISDICTION & VENUE

2. Jurisdiction is proper in this Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1988 as well as 28 U.S.C. § 1343, and further arises under the United States Constitution. Declaratory relief is authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 2201 and § 2202 and Rule 57 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Injunctive relief is authorized by Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This court has pendent or supplemental jurisdiction over the claim under the Utah State Constitution.

3. Venue is proper in the Central Division of the United States District Court for the District of Utah because the misconduct of defendants occurred in Salt Lake County, State of Utah and in the Central Division of this Court. Further, the individual parties to this action reside in that division, and in Salt Lake County, State of Utah. The defendants’ places of business are in Salt Lake County, State of Utah.

PARTIES

4. The plaintiffs, JOHN SLEVIN and JOHN GUIDO were, at pertinent times, citizens and residents of Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and the State of Utah.

5. SALT LAKE COUNTY is a body politic and corporate created by Utah statutes and governing the geographical area known as Salt Lake County, Utah. It is the employer and/or principal of the other individual defendants.

6. LARRY BROWN and BRYAN GREEN are agents, officers and/or employees of SALT LAKE COUNTY. They have been granted the power and authority by SALT LAKE COUNTY to make decisions with regard to the operations of the Salt Lake County Fair.

7. JOHN DOES I - V and JANE DOES I - V are agents, officers and/or employees of SALT LAKE COUNTY. The true, full and correct names of these defendants are current unknown to plaintiffs.

When plaintiffs discover the full true and correct names of those defendants, plaintiffs will seek leave of the court and amend this complaint. These defendants have been granted the power and authority by SALT LAKE COUNTY to make decisions with regard to the operations of the Salt Lake County Fair.

8. The individual defendants are sued personally as well as in their official capacity.

9. At all times pertinent to this action the defendants were acting under color of state law, with power vested in them by the State of Utah and Salt Lake County and within the scope of their authority granted by Utah State law and Salt Lake County ordinances, policies and practices. At all times pertinent to this action, the defendants were acting pursuant to the policies and practices of Salt Lake County.

FACTS

10. For many years, SALT LAKE COUNTY has produced and staged the annual Salt Lake County Fair at Murray, Utah. The Salt Lake County Fair is open to the public. There is no fee charged for admission to the fair.

11. Salt Lake County owns and maintains more than 65 acres of land and buildings at the Salt Lake County Fair Grounds located in Murray, Utah which Salt Lake County uses annually to stage the Salt Lake County Fair.

12. The 1998 Salt Lake County Fair was staged by defendants August 17-22, 1998 at the Salt Lake County Fairgrounds, Murray, Utah.

13. The plaintiffs are involved in political activity in the circulation of an initiative petition seeking signatures of registered voters in order to force the Utah Legislature to vote upon proposed legislation. The plaintiffs also assist people in registering to vote.

14. On the morning of Monday, August 17, 1998 plaintiff Slevin went to the Salt Lake County Fair Grounds at approximately 5250 South State Street, Murray, Utah. At that time plaintiffs spoke to Bryan Green who, acting for Salt Lake County, indicated that he was in charge of allowing vendors and others to participate in the fair and to engage in activities on the Fair Grounds. Bryan Green gave plaintiffs authorization to gather signatures on their petitions and to assist in voter registration on the Fair Grounds during the 1998 fair. Green gave plaintiffs four (4) vendors passes and directed plaintiffs and any others working with plaintiffs to carry the passes with them while on the Fair Grounds.

15. The next day, Tuesday, August 18, 1998 the two (2) plaintiffs returned to the Fair Grounds to circulate their petitions and gather signatures. They did so on the grounds of the Salt Lake County Fair and in an area open to the public.

16. On Tuesday, August 18, 1998 at the Fair Grounds, the plaintiffs (as is their usual and common practice) were not soliciting contributions, were not distributing literature, were not giving away nor selling any items or goods. They were not engaged in any commercial venture or activity.

17. On Tuesday, August 18, 1998 at the Fair Grounds, the plaintiffs (as is their usual and common practice) were not impeding pedestrian traffic in any manner, were not causing any obstruction or blockage in the normal ingress and egress of fair patrons.

18. On August 18, 1998 the defendants Larry Brown and Bryan Green, John Does I & II, and Jane Does I & II approached plaintiffs on the Fair Grounds. Said defendants then informed plaintiffs that the permission previously granted to circulate their petitions and to gather signatures was revoked. Said defendants specifically informed plaintiffs that plaintiffs would not be allowed to circulate their petitions and to gather signatures on the Fair Grounds during the fair.

19. The plaintiffs protested defendants’ position and explained that plaintiffs were engaged in constitutionally protected activities on government property open to the public.

20. The defendants maintained their position and stated that defendants were acting pursuant to the policies, rules and regulations of Salt Lake County in refusing to allow plaintiffs to circulate petitions and gather signatures.

21. The defendants summoned a Murray City police officer to the scene. At the direction of the Murray City police officer and in the officer’s presence, defendant Brown and/or Green formally requested plaintiffs to cease circulating their petitions and gathering signatures and to leave the Salt Lake County Fair Grounds if they refused to cease.

22. The plaintiffs refused to cease circulating and gathering signatures and they declined to leave the Fair Grounds.

23. At the request and insistence of Larry Brown and/or Bryan Green, the Murray City police officer then issued criminal citations to each of the plaintiffs charging them with the criminal offense of trespassing under Ut. Code Ann. § 76-6-206 (1953 as amended). Larry Brown is noted as the complainant on those criminal citations.

24. The criminal charges were filed in the Murray Department of the Third Judicial District Court, Murray, Utah.

25. The Murray City police officer then informed plaintiffs that if they continued to remain on the Fair Grounds and circulate their petitions and gather signatures he would arrest them and transport them to jail. The officer and the defendants Green and Brown informed plaintiffs that if they returned to the Fair Grounds and circulated their petitions, the plaintiffs would be arrested.

26. Plaintiffs then left the Fair Grounds.

27. The criminal charges filed in the Murray Department of the Third Judicial District Court, Murray, Utah, at the request of the Murray City prosecutor were dismissed.

28. No written rule, regulation or policy of the defendants prohibits plaintiffs’ political activity as described above at and during the Salt Lake County Fair.

29. The defendants have never established or adopted any written or specific criteria or guidelines to determine who or what entities, agencies, persons, etc. such as the plaintiffs should be or should not be allowed to engage in political activity, such as circulating petitions and gathering signatures during and at the Salt Lake County Fair. Decisions as to who can participate in such activities at and during the Salt Lake County Fair (and in what manner) are left to the unfettered discretion of Salt Lake County employees and agents such as Green and Brown. The defendant fair officers, such as Brown and Green, acting for Salt, Lake County, claim and reserve the right to determine what is "unsuitable or objectionable" and to remove such a booth, sign, activity or banner from the Fair Grounds "without assigning reasons therefor."

30. The defendants have never established or adopted written or specific criteria to determine who or what ideas, opinions, information, etc. parties such as the plaintiffs, should be or should not be allowed to disseminate at the Salt Lake County Fair. The decisions as to what ideas, opinions and information could be disseminated by parties such as the plaintiffs have been left to the unfettered discretion County officers and agents.

31. Harm was suffered by plaintiffs in not being allowed to engage in the political activity as described above, circulating petitions, gathering signatures, engaging in conversation and discussions, assisting people in registering to vote, etc.

32. The rights protected by the First Amendment are invaluable and establishing damages for the violation of those rights is difficult. The plaintiffs seek appropriate damages for harm to their constitutional rights.

33. Based upon negotiations between counsel for the parties, the plaintiffs were allowed to return to the Salt Lake County Fair Grounds on Thursday, August 20, 1998 to collect signatures and circulate their petitions for the balance of the 1998 Salt Lake County Fair.

34. Plaintiffs have incurred attorney fees and court costs in this action. Plaintiffs seek reimbursement for those fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1988.

35. Plaintiffs make no claim for monetary damages as a result of defendants’ abridgement of their rights under the Utah Constitution but seek only declaratory relief in that regard and a permanent injunction against future similar conduct.

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION

36. The conduct of the defendants as set forth above constitutes an infringement of plaintiffs’ right to expression as protected by the United States Constitution (First Amendment) and the Utah Constitution. Art. 1, § 15.

37. The plaintiffs are entitled to an award of damages for the violation of their right to expression under the United States Constitution.

38. The plaintiffs are entitled to equitable relief in the nature of a permanent injunction against the defendants from interfering with plaintiffs’ right to expression under the United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution.

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION

39. The conduct of the defendants as set forth above constitutes an infringement of plaintiffs’ right to petition government as protected by the United States Constitution (First Amendment) and the Utah Constitution. Art. 1, § 1.

40. The plaintiffs are entitled to an award of damages for the violation of their right to petition government under the United States Constitution.

41. The plaintiffs are entitled to equitable relief in the nature of a permanent injunction against the defendants from interfering with plaintiffs’ right to petition government under the United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution.

THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION

42. The plaintiffs were criminally charged with trespass absent probable cause and without justification in law or in fact.

43. The wrongful detention and criminal charging of the plaintiffs constitutes a violation of plaintiffs’ constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizures.

44. The plaintiffs are entitled to an award of damages for the violation of their right to he free from unreasonable seizures.

RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs demand the following relief:

1. For a permanent injunction allowing plaintiffs to engage in --he political activity as described above during future Salt Lake County Fairs.

2. For declaratory relief to the effect that defendants’ conduct as described above violated the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs as protected by the Utah Constitution and the United States Constitution.

3. For an award of damages against defendants jointly and se,7erally for the violation of the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs as protected by the United States Constitution.

4. For an award of attorney fees and court costs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1988.

5. For such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper in the premises.

Dated this 8th day of October, 1998.

American Civil Liberties Union of Utah
Utah Legal Clinic