In ACLU Lawsuit Regarding First Amendment Activity During DNC, Parties Agree On Some Issues; Additional Issues Remain For Federal Court Resolution

Affiliate: ACLU of Colorado
May 23, 2008 12:00 am

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Attorneys representing the City and County of Denver and the Secret Service, and ACLU of Colorado attorneys representing twelve advocacy organizations, filed documents late Thursday evening in federal district court indicating that they had reached agreement on some of the issues raised in an ACLU lawsuit filed May 1 that seeks to protect the right of free expression during the time of the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August, 2008.
The parties filed a document titled Stipulation Regarding Partial Resolution of Plaintiffs’ First Motion for Preliminary Injunction (“Stipulation”). They also submitted a Proposed Order and jointly asked that the Court sign it and formally enter it as an order of the Court.

The Stipulation reflects the parties’ agreement on some issues, thereby relieving the Court of the need to decide those issues in the lawsuit. It also reflects the parties’ “agreement to disagree” on additional issues that remain to be resolved by the Court.

The points of agreement include the following:

  • By June 12, Denver will announce the street-by-street route of a “Designated Parade Route” to the Pepsi Center, except for the location of the termination point of that route.

  • Groups that conduct parades along the “Designated Parade Route” will not be charged any of the normally-applicable fees and will not be asked to reimburse Denver for any costs.

  • The Plaintiffs preserve their opportunity to challenge the adequacy of that “Designated Parade Route.” Plaintiffs also preserve their opportunity to argue for a prompt disclosure of the location and other details relating to the termination point of that route.

  • The number of “slots” available for parades along the “Designated Parade Route” will depend on the size of the marches that are eventually approved for use of the route. As a result, the precise number of marches on each day won’t be known immediately. However, Denver agrees that it will try, in good faith, to provide at least three time slots each day, and potentially more, depending on circumstances.

  • Plaintiffs preserve the opportunity to challenge any restrictions on the number of available time slots on the Designated Parade Route, as well as any other restrictions on the conduct of parades or the availability of opportunities for parades.

  • Denver will begin processing already-pending requests for parade permits on June 12 and will complete that processing by June 19.

  • After the already-pending requests are processed, Denver will accept and process any new applications for parade permits, either for still-available slots on the Designated Parade Route, if any, or for other proposed routes locations in Denver.

  • Denver has announced that it will establish a “Public Demonstration Zone” on the grounds of the Pepsi Center. The Stipulation states that this zone “is not an isolated zone by which the City will confine demonstrations. This public area is simply a designated location that will provide sight and sound access to the convention delegates, and is open to demonstrators, delegates, curious onlookers and others.”

  • Almost all other details regarding the “Public Demonstration Zone” remain undisclosed at this time. The Plaintiffs preserve their opportunity to argue that those details must be disclosed promptly. Plaintiffs also preserve their opportunity to challenge any as-yet-undisclosed restrictions on First Amendment activity in connection with this “Public Demonstration Zone.”

  • The Stipulation acknowledges that the City’s disclosures take certain pending issues “off the table,” and the Court does not need to resolve them.

  • The Stipulation also acknowledges a number of issues that remain unresolved. These issues remain the subject of the Plaintiffs’ first motion for preliminary injunction. Thus, Plaintiffs continue to ask the Court for an order:

    • directing Denver to disclose promptly the termination point of the Designated Parade Route;
    • directing Denver to disclose promptly all restrictions that it will impose on activity within the Public Demonstration Zone, such as:
      • the location and size of the zone
      • any restrictions on the number of persons allowed in the zone at one time
      • the locations of all entrances and exits
      • the nature, height, and transparency of any barriers that will interfere with or limit communication between persons inside the zone and delegates outside the zone
      • any restrictions on signs or banners within the zone
      • any additional regulations or restrictions on First Amendment activity within the zone
      • and directing Denver to disclose any plans to close or restrict access to any other public forum space as a result of the DNC.

The case, ACLU v. City and County of Denver, is assigned to Judge Marcia Krieger of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The day after the suit was filed, Judge Krieger ordered both Denver and the Secret Service to file a response within ten days. The Defendants later received a one-week extension. Their response is expected to be filed on May 23.

Lead counsel for the Plaintiffs are ACLU Cooperating Attorneys Steven D. Zansberg and Christopher Beall, of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz. Also representing the Plaintiffs are ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein, and ACLU Staff Attorney Taylor Pendergrass.

Links to the recently-filed documents are available on the ACLU of Colorado web site at:

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