Man Barred From City Hall May Have a Case
(CN) - San Antonio may have violated a man's free speech rights by banning him from city hall and from attending public meetings there, a federal judge ruled.
The city issued a criminal trespass warning, or CTW, against its former telecom manager John Foddrill in July 2009.
Under threat of arrest for trespassing, the CTW banned Foddrill from entering city hall and three other city buildings, all of which were used for both private government work and public meetings.
Foddrill claimed that the city issued the ban after he asked for information about a criminal conspiracy within its administration.
The retaliation also allegedly involved members of the San Antonio police department's mental health unit waking Foddrill up in the early morning hours of July 5, 2011. Foddrill additionally claimed that he received calls from Canada warning him to stop reporting on alleged corruption in San Antonio's government.
He sued the city in February for violations of the First and 14th Amendments. The next month, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez enjoined the city in an unrelated case from using a CTW against another person.
In response San Antonio removed the CTW from Foddrill on April 1. The city then moved to dismiss, arguing that Foddrill's claims are time barred and moot now that his CTW has been lifted.
Judge Rodriguez was not swayed and declined to dismiss all of Foddrill's claims Wednesday.
Rodriguez disagreed with the city that the two-year clock on Foddrill's First Amendment claim started ticking on July 1, 2009, the day it issued the CTW.
"In this case, the alleged constitutional injury flows not from the issuance of the CTW, but from the fact that for close to four years plaintiff was prohibited from exercising his rights to free speech and assembly at several public buildings," Rodriguez wrote.
As such, Rodriguez noted, the alleged infringement on Foddrill's free speech rights only ended when the CTW was lifted on April 1.
"Plaintiff filed suit in this Court on February 28, 2013," the ruling states. "Claims for injury that occurred more than two years before this date are barred by the statute of limitations. Accordingly, plaintiff has a claim for the alleged unconstitutional actions that took place between February 28, 2011 and April 1, 2013."
Rodriguez also applied the cumulative injury standard to Foddrill's substantive due process claims, and refused to dismiss them as time barred.
He did, however, apply the statute of limitations to Foddrill's retaliation and procedural due process claims, finding those claims accrued on July 1, 2009, the day San Antonio issued the CTW, making them time barred.
Foddrill also requested an injunction to stop the city from enforcing another CTW against him.
A moot request, Rodriguez determined, agreeing with the city that because it voluntary lifted the CTW he was not in danger of being subjected to another one.
San Antonio's city attorney did not return a call for comment on the ruling.