Martin v. City of Boise, No. 15-35845 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, who are homeless or have recently been homeless, filed suit against the City seeking retrospective relief for their previous citations under the Camping Ordinance and Disorderly Conduct Ordinance. The panel held that an ordinance violates the Eighth Amendment insofar as it imposes criminal sanctions against homeless individuals for sleeping outdoors, on public property, when no alternative shelter is available to them. The panel also held that two of the plaintiffs may be entitled to retrospective and prospective relief for violation of that Eighth Amendment right. These two plaintiffs have demonstrated a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether they face a credible risk of prosecution under the ordinances in the future on a night when they have been denied access to Boise's homeless shelters. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Court Description: Civil Rights. The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s summary judgment in an action brought by six current or formerly homeless City of Boise residents who alleged that their citations under the City’s Camping and Disorderly Conduct Ordinances violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiffs sought damages for the alleged violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Two plaintiffs also sought prospective declaratory and injunctive relief precluding future enforcement of the ordinances. In 2014, after this litigation began, the ordinances were amended to prohibit their enforcement against any homeless person on public property on any night when no shelter had an available overnight space. The panel first held that two plaintiffs had standing to pursue prospective relief because they demonstrated a genuine issue of material fact as to whether they faced a credible risk of prosecution on a night when they had been denied access to the City’s shelters. The panel noted that although the 2014 amendment precluded the City from enforcing the ordinances when shelters were full, individuals could still be turned away for reasons other than shelter capacity, such as for exceeding the shelter’s stay limits, or for MARTIN V. CITY OF BOISE 3 failing to take part in a shelter’s mandatory religious programs. The panel held that although the doctrine set forth in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) and its progeny precluded most — but not all — of the plaintiffs’ requests for retrospective relief, the doctrine had no application to plaintiffs’ request for an injunction enjoining prospective enforcement of the ordinances. Turning to the merits, the panel held that the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eighth Amendment precluded the enforcement of a statute prohibiting sleeping outside against homeless individuals with no access to alternative shelter. The panel held that, as long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter. Concurring in part and dissenting in part, Judge Owens disagreed with the majority’s opinion that Heck v. Humphrey did not bar plaintiffs’ claim for declaratory and injunctive relief. Judge Owens stated that a declaration that the city ordinances are unconstitutional and an injunction against their future enforcement would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of plaintiffs’ prior convictions. Judge Owens otherwise joined the majority in full. 4 MARTIN V. CITY OF BOISE
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on April 1, 2019.