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Roy v. City of Monroe

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

October 19, 2017





         This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff Clarence Dean Roy (“Roy”) against Defendants City of Monroe (“the City”) and James Booth (“Booth”). Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 23] filed by Defendants. For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


         Roy is a minister who often preaches with his followers near the intersection of Pine and Third Streets in Monroe, Louisiana. The Corner Bar, which is at that location and in close proximity to several other bars, is known as a gathering spot for homosexuals. Roy and his followers believe that homosexuality is a sin. [Doc. No. 23-3, Exh. 3, Roy Depo., p. 22, ll. 1-6]. They preach against homosexuality, as well as drinking alcohol, and other topics. Id. at ll. 13-14. On multiple occasions, the Monroe Police Department has been called to the area because of a situation involving Roy and his followers, both because of their statements and actions toward patrons and actions taken by others against Roy and his followers. City police officers receive training on First Amendment rights as part of their law enforcement training and are aware that people may peacefully protest as long as they are not blocking streets or public passages. [Doc. No. 23-3, Exh. 9, Jared Desadier Depo., p. 19, ll. 14-25, p. 20, l. 1; Exh. 11, Mark Johnson Depo., p. 45, ll. 10-17].

         On July 17, 2015, Roy and his followers were at the same intersection. At some point, Roy asked one of his followers to call the police because someone was “putting her hands all over” another follower. [Doc. No. 23-3, Exh. 3, Roy Depo., p. 15, ll. 16-23].

         The police arrived on the scene. During the time that they were investigating the incident, another person in the area, Jessica Falcon (“Falcon”), was watching the commotion while her friend, Brooke Wood (“Wood”), was talking to a police officer. Falcon then crossed the street to her parked car to retrieve something from the front passenger seat. Falcon and Wood have testified that Roy followed after Falcon hurriedly, and Falcon testified that he began calling her names like “little lesbo” and telling her that she was “going to hell, ” and her father was “the devil.” [Doc. No. 23-3, Exh. 5, Falcon Depo., pp. 19-23; Exh. 6, Wood Depo., p. 20, ll. 21]. Falcon further testified that Roy was within a couple of feet of her car when she reached it and that she was scared by his words and the manner in which he said them. She grabbed the items she needed and hurriedly returned across the street where Wood observed her to be crying and visibly shaken up. During this time, Wood had asked the officer with whom she had been talking if they could do anything about Roy's and his followers' actions and was told she would have to file a complaint. When Falcon returned, Wood told her what the officer said, and Falcon made a complaint to Sergeant James Booth, one of the supervisors on scene. She identified the person about whom she complained as wearing an orange jump suit and then pointed out Roy.

         Roy denies that he took the actions or made the statements attributed to him.

         Sergeant Booth issued a summons to Roy for Disturbing the Peace. [Doc. No. 23-3, Exh. 2]. The relevant City ordinance, Sec. 12-153, provides as follows:

(a) It shall be unlawful to commit an act of disturbing the peace.
(b) Disturbing the peace is the doing of any of the following in such a manner as would foreseeably disturb or alarm the public, or create any dangerous or violent conditions:
(1) Engaging in a fistic encounter; or
(2) Using profane or threatening language or making obscene remarks, gestures, or indecent proposals to or toward another which in the manner uttered has a tendency to incite an ordinary addressee to violent retaliatory action and a breach of the peace; or
(3) Appearing in an intoxicated condition; or
(4) Engaging in any act in a violent and tumultuous manner by any three (3) or more persons; or
(5) Holding of an unlawful assembly; or
(6) Interruption of any lawful assembly of people.
Disturbing the peace shall also include the commission of any act other than that permitted as an exercise of free speech or free assembly guaranteed by the constitutions of the United States and the State of Louisiana, in such a manner as to disturb or alarm the public, or make such a disturbance imminent, or to provoke another or other to retaliatory action or violence. (Code 1958, § 10-27; Ord. No. 7087, 9-11-79).

         Sergeant Booth's probable cause narrative stated:

On 7-17-2015 at approx 2247 hours I Sgt. Booth, was in the 500 Blk of North 3rd Street dealing with a distance. There was [sic] group of people outside Club Neat and the Connor [sic] Bar preaching at the customers. While there I was approached by Jessica N. Falcon. Jessica stated while she was crossing the street from Club neat to The Connor Bar a whi[t]e male wearing an orange jump suite [sic] car[rying] a large wooden cross Followed [sic] her across the street. Jessica stated the man called her a homosexual and because of this she was going to hell. Jessica also stated the man told her that her father was the devil. Jessica stated this offended her and it scared her the way he was following her across the street. Jessica pointed out the suspect to me. The suspected was id[ed] as Clarence D. Roy. Roy told me he was not protesting but preaching. Roy was issued a summon (27563) for disturbing the peace.

[Doc. No. 23-3, Exh. 2].

         Roy denies that Sergeant Booth told him the basis for the summons.[1]

         On April 11, 2016, a trial was held in Monroe City Court. The case was prosecuted by James Pierre, who interviewed Falcon and Wood prior to trial. At the conclusion of trial, Judge Jefferson Joyce found Roy not guilty, although Judge Joyce did state that he believed Roy had said the type of offensive things alleged. [Doc. No. 23-3, Exh. 1].

         Roy and his followers continued their protests and preaching after this incident without interference by the Monroe Police Department.[2] However, they stopped their protests and preaching for awhile because of the instant lawsuit. [Doc. No. 23-3, Exh. 3, Roy Depo., p. 51, ll. 11-16; p. 52, ll. 17-18, 21-24].

         On July 11, 2016, Roy filed suit against Defendants asserting claims that the Ordinance, on its face and as applied, violated his rights of freedom of speech and free exercise of religion under the First Amendment, as applied through the Fourteenth Amendment; that the City's Ordinance, policies, and practices violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment; that Defendants' actions constitute malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and that Sergeant Booth's actions constitute false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment. [Doc. No. 14]. He seeks declaratory and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, [3] an award of nominal or compensatory damages, and attorney's fees and costs.


         A. Standard of Review

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment “should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by identifying portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v. Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir. 1992). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         If the moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v. Apache Corp., 19 F.3d 1017, 1023 (5th Cir. 1994). In evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the Court must accept the evidence of the nonmovant as credible and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, “a party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence. Thus, Summary Judgment is appropriate if a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007)(citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248(1986)).

         B. Civil Rights Claims

         Roy has brought a number of civil rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. “Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights; it merely provides a method for vindicating already conferred federal rights.” Bauer v. Texas, 341 F.3d 352, 357 (5th Cir. 2003). “To state a claim under 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988) (citations omitted). A “person” under § 1983 may include a government entity if liability is premised on a policy or custom that caused the alleged constitutional deprivations. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978); Board of Cnty. Comm'nrs of Bryan Cnty. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997); Turner v. Houma Mun. Fire & Police Civ. Serv. Bd., 229 F.3d 478, 483 n. 10 (5th Cir. 2000). An official capacity suit against an official is the equivalent of a suit against the entity of which the official is an agent. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-166 (1985); Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 471-472 (1985); Hafer v. Melo, 112 S.Ct. 358, 361 (1991); McMillian v. Monroe Cnty., Ala., 520 U.S. 781, 784-85, (1997)[4]; Burge v. St. Tammany Parish, 187 F.3d 452, 466 (5th Cir. 1999).

         In this case, Roy contends that Defendants, acting under color of state law, enacted and applied the Ordinance, which is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied. Roy asserts that Defendants' actions violated his rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

         1. Freedom of Speech and Free Exercise of Religion under the First Amendment

         The First Amendment provides Roy a right to freedom of speech and the right to free exercise of religious expression. See McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 618, 625 (1978) (religious expression); Snyder v. Phelps, 562 U.S. 443, 453-55 (2011) (after examining content, form, and context, Supreme Court found that First Amendment protection on free ...

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