Immunity and Accountability

Denver Homeless Out Loud v. Denver

Brief Details

Date Filed
Original Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Current Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

In 2020, a group of homeless people sued Denver. They said the city had a practice of clearing out homeless encampments without giving notice—often trashing people’s belongings. Those actions, they alleged, violated the Constitution.

A federal trial court thought they had a good case; after a three-day hearing, Judge William Martinez granted a preliminary injunction ordering Denver to stop the unannounced sweeps.

Denver then appealed to the Tenth Circuit. And that’s where things took an unusual turn: The appeals court ruled for Denver based on a defense the city hadn’t argued. In the court’s telling, the homeless people couldn’t sue Denver because a different group of homeless people had entered into a class-action settlement agreement years earlier.

IJ has filed an amicus brief raising concerns about the use of claim preclusion and calling on the Tenth Circuit to rehear their case. And rehearing is the least they’re entitled to. The flaws in the original panel’s decisional process call out for correction.