Tag Archives: Mitchell v. City of Los Angeles

Rebecca Cooley v. City Of Los Angeles — On October 21, 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging The Illegal Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of Rebecca Cooley, Benjamin Hubert, And Casimir Zoroda — Three Disabled Homeless People Living In Venice At The Time — Seeks Class Action Status For Approximately 60 Others Similarly Situated

On October 21, 2018 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court against the City of Los Angeles on behalf of three named homeless people along with about sixty others similarly situated. The three, Rebecca Cooley, her husband Benjamin Hubert, and Casimir Zaroda, are homeless people who were living on the streets in Venice in September 2017 when the City of Los Angeles, without notice and without any kind of process, confiscated and destroyed their property, including tents, blankets, essential paperwork, transit passes, and other items essential to the maintenance of human life. The suit comes just as the City is resuming its horrific, indiscriminate sweeps of homeless encampments outside of neighborhoods covered by the various injunctions.

The initial complaint claims that the City’s actions violate constitutional bans on takings and on unlawful seizure as well as the constitutional guarantee of due process. These familiar theories have been consistently upheld by federal courts up to and including the Ninth Circuit,1 all of which have been willing to issue and/or uphold injunctions against the City’s property confiscation and destruction policies. So it’s hard to imagine that the City can prevail on these issues.

Also, because two of the three named plaintiffs are disabled along with many of the similarly situated unnamed plaintiffs, the complaint also alleges that the City violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by confiscating their essential papers and means of transportation, by storing confiscated property in locations and facilities not properly accessible to disabled people, and, in general, by following policies and practices with respect to homeless people’s property that disproportionately burden disabled people.

Turn the page for transcriptions of selections from the initial complaint.
Continue reading Rebecca Cooley v. City Of Los Angeles — On October 21, 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging The Illegal Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of Rebecca Cooley, Benjamin Hubert, And Casimir Zoroda — Three Disabled Homeless People Living In Venice At The Time — Seeks Class Action Status For Approximately 60 Others Similarly Situated

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Rex Schellenberg v. City Of Los Angeles — In September 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging Summary Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of An Elderly Disabled Homeless Man — And Seeking An Injunction Against These Practices — For Some Reason This Has Not Been Covered At All In The Media — Read The Initial Complaint Here

On September 3, 2018 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court against the City of Los Angeles, alleging that Rex Schellenberg, a homeless man living in the San Fernando Valley, stepped away from his property briefly only to have it confiscated and much of it destroyed by the LAPD and LA Sanitation personnel. I can’t find anything about this case in the media, in contrast to Sobel’s other pending case on the matter, Mitchell v. City of LA, which is covered extensively. You can read and get copies of the pleadings here on Archive.Org. I’ll update the collection as more stuff is filed.

The facts of the case are simple. Schellenberg, an elderly man homeless in Los Angeles for more than twenty years and disabled as well, lives in the San Fernando Valley. In July 2017 he left his property momentarily unattended to visit a convenience store and employees of the City of Los Angeles summarily confiscated and destroyed Schellenberg’s neatly stored possessions. In its monumental decision in Lavan v. City of LA, the Ninth Circuit had this to say about this practice:

As we have repeatedly made clear, “[t]he government may not take property like a thief in the night; rather, it must announce its intentions and give the property owner a chance to argue against the taking.” This simple rule holds regardless of whether the property in question is an Escalade or [a tent], a Cadillac or a cart. The City demonstrates that it completely misunderstands the role of due process by its contrary suggestion that homeless persons instantly and permanently lose any protected property interest in their possessions by leaving them momentarily unattended in violation of a municipal ordinance. As the district court recognized, the logic of the City’s suggestion would also allow it to seize and destroy cars parked in no-parking zones left momentarily unattended.

As with all of Sobel’s writing, the initial complaint makes compelling reading. You can get a copy of the PDF here, or turn the page for a transcription of selections.
Continue reading Rex Schellenberg v. City Of Los Angeles — In September 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging Summary Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of An Elderly Disabled Homeless Man — And Seeking An Injunction Against These Practices — For Some Reason This Has Not Been Covered At All In The Media — Read The Initial Complaint Here

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City of Los Angeles Files Unconvincing Response To Carol Sobel’s Opposition To City’s Motion For Clarification Of Judge Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Against Confiscation Of Homeless People’s Property In Skid Row, Basically Ask Court To Allow Them To Confiscate Incident To Arrest Even If There’s A Third Party To Take Property Cause Cops Don’t Have Time To Do The Right Thing

See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

Last week it came out that ongoing settlement talks in Mitchell v. City of Los Angeles had broken down, leading to the plaintiffs filing an opposition to the City’s motion for clarification of Judge Otero’s April 2016 preliminary injunction against the City. Yesterday the City filed a reply to Sobel’s opposition (PDF, transcription after the break).

The City’s argument is based on the highly dubious assertion that “Throughout all of its efforts, the City strives to balance the need of all of the City’s residents to have clean, sanitary, and accessible public areas, including sidewalks, with the needs of “the City’s large and vulnerable homeless population” and they just need clarification “…to ensure that its employees who are responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of every person living or working in the Skid Row area clearly understand, and are in a position to successfully implement, the terms of the Court’s Order.”

Of course, it’s much, much more likely that the City’s goal is to harass homeless people so mercilessly that they all leave, freeing up the valuable real estate of Skid Row for the Downtown developers who hungering so fiercely for it. And I apologize that I can’t go into more detail, but, as I said, there’s a transcription after the break.
Continue reading City of Los Angeles Files Unconvincing Response To Carol Sobel’s Opposition To City’s Motion For Clarification Of Judge Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Against Confiscation Of Homeless People’s Property In Skid Row, Basically Ask Court To Allow Them To Confiscate Incident To Arrest Even If There’s A Third Party To Take Property Cause Cops Don’t Have Time To Do The Right Thing

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Discussions On City Of LA’s Motion For Clarification Of Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Forbidding Confiscation Of Homeless Property In Skid Row Finally Break Down, Leading Plaintiffs’ Attorneys To File Scathing Opposition — Hearing Set For September 11 At 10 a.m.

See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

It’s been over a year since anything tangible happened in Mitchell v. City of LA, which is the most recent lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles challenging the City’s abhorrent enforcement of the abhorrent LAMC 56.11 as an abhorrent justification for the illegal and immoral confiscation of the personal property of homeless people in Los Angeles. Here’s a brief timeline of what’s been going on:

  • April 2016 — Judge Otero issues a preliminary injunction severely limiting the City’s enforcement of LAMC 56.11 in Skid Row.
  • May 2016 — The City of Los Angeles asks Otero to clarify his injunction. In particular, the City wanted to know the boundaries within which the injunction applies and also how the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment is to be exercised in relation to homeless people’s property.
  • Subsequently the City and the plaintiffs spent over a year trying to come to an agreement on the motion for clarification.

Well, yesterday Carol Sobel filed this opposition announcing that, while the parties were able to agree on the boundaries within which the injunction applies and some other matters, they most certainly were not able to agree on the community caretaking matter and neither were they able to agree on the City’s proposal for what constitutes a removable “bulky item.” The agreed-upon boundaries, by the way, are:

Second Street to the north, Eighth Street to the South, Alameda Street to the east and Spring Street to the west.

According to the American Bar Association Journal,

The idea behind community caretaking is that police do not always function as law enforcement officials investigating and ferreting out wrongdoing, but sometimes may act as community caretakers designed to prevent harm in emergency situations.

When they’re functioning in that role, the theory goes, they can seize cars without due process, or search houses without a warrant, and so on, as long as they’re “caring for the community” rather than investigating. Thus the community caretaking function justifies some specific exceptions to the Fourth Amendment prohibition on warrantless searches and seizures of property.

And I’m sure you can imagine just what kinds of mischief the City of Los Angeles is capable of getting up to with a tool like that. In particular they’re arguing that they ought to be able to confiscate people’s property when they’re arrested even if the arrestee has someone at the scene who can take custody of the property. The City says yes, sane people say no.

This matter is scheduled for a hearing at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 11, in Otero’s Courtroom 10C in the First Street Federal Courthouse. Anyway, turn the page for some excerpts from the filing which explain things better than I’m capable of doing.
Continue reading Discussions On City Of LA’s Motion For Clarification Of Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Forbidding Confiscation Of Homeless Property In Skid Row Finally Break Down, Leading Plaintiffs’ Attorneys To File Scathing Opposition — Hearing Set For September 11 At 10 a.m.

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