Frampton v. City of Baton Rouge

Decision Date07 January 2022
Docket NumberCivil Action 21-CV-362-JWD-SDJ
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Louisiana
PartiesTHOMAS FRAMPTON v. CITY OF BATON ROUGE/PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE, ET AL.
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

JUDG E JOHN W. deGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

Table of Contents

I. INTRODUCTION 3

II. PARTIES 4

III. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY ............................................ 5

A January 1, 2020 Stop Of Clarence Green Vehicle .................................................. 5

B. Federal Proceedings Against Clarence Green And The Release Of BRPD Video . 7

C. Frampton Is Hired As Green Family Lawyer, Files Civil Suit And Settles Case With City/Parish ...................................................................................................... 9

D. Frampton Releases Some BRPD Video ................................................................ 12

E. Paul Holds Press Conference And City/Parish, On Behalf Of BRPD, Files Petition In Juvenile Court Seeking Release Of Video And Sanctions Against Frampton . 13

F. The Previous Public Release Of BRPD Video And Defendants' Awareness Of Same ...................................................................................................................... 14

G. Despite Knowledge Of Previous Public Release Of BRPD Video, Defendants Continue To Pursue The Contempt Motion Against Frampton And Do Not Pursue Contempt Actions Against Others Who Previously Released Video ................... 16

H. Frampton Files Petition For Injunctive Relief And Motion For Preliminary Injunction; Defendants File Motion To Dismiss; Preliminary Injunction Hearing Is Held ................................................................................................................... 17

IV. STANDARDS TO BE APPLIED ...................................................................................... 18

A. Motion To Dismiss ............................................................................................... 18
B. Motion For Preliminary Injunction ....................................................................... 19
C. Younger Abstention And Bad Faith Exception ..................................................... 20
D. Retaliation Against The Exercise Of The Constitutional Right Of Free Speech .. 22

V. ISSUES ................................................................................................................................. 24

VI. ARGUMENTS OF THE PARTIES .................................................................................. 26

A. Should The Court Abstain From Deciding This Case? ........................................ 26

1. Plaintiff's Position .................................................................................... 26

2. Defendants' Position ................................................................................. 42

B. Has Plaintiff Satisfied His Burden For The Issuance Of A Preliminary Injunction? ............................................................................................................................... 55

1. Has Plaintiff Shown A Probability Of Success On The Merits? .............. 55

2. Has Plaintiff Shown A Significant Threat Of Irreparable Injury? ............ 56

3. Does The Threatened Injury Of The Injunction Outweigh The Harm That Will Result If The Injunction Is Granted? ................................................ 58

4. Will The Grant Of The Injunction Disserve The Public Interest? ............ 60

VII. DISCUSSION .................................................................................................................... 61

A. Motion To Dismiss ............................................................................................... 61

1. Does Younger Apply To A State Contempt Proceeding? ......................... 61

2. Test For Application Of Bad Faith Exception To Younger ...................... 62

3. Was Frampton Engaged In Exercising A Constitutionally Protected Right? ................................................................................................................... 63

4. Has Plaintiff Proved That A Major Motivating Factor In Filing The Contempt Motion Was To Retaliate? ....................................................... 63

5. Is Art. 412 Applicable To The Facts Of This Case? ................................. 77

6. Have Defendants Met Their Burden To Show The City/Parish Would Have Brought The Contempt Motion In The Absence Of Frampton's Constitutionally Protected Right? ............................................................. 83

7. Conclusion ................................................................................................ 84

B. Has Plaintiff Satisfied His Burden For The Issuance Of The Preliminary Injunction? ............................................................................................................ 84

1. Test ............................................................................................................ 84

2. Has Plaintiff Shown A Probability Of Success On The Merits? .............. 85

3. Has Plaintiff Shown A Substantial Threat of Irreparable Harm? ............. 86

4. Does The Threatened Injury To Plaintiff Outweigh The Threatened Injury To Defendants? ......................................................................................... 88

5. Will The Granting Of The Preliminary Injunction Disserve The Public Interest? ..................................................................................................... 88

VIII. CONCLUSION .............................................................................................. 90

I.INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is a Motion for Preliminary Injunction brought by plaintiff Thomas Frampton (Plaintiff or “Frampton”) seeking to have this Court order the defendants City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge (“City/Parish”), Sharon Weston Broome (“Broome”) and Murphy J. Paul, Jr. (“Paul”) (collectively, Defendants) to withdraw a portion of a Juvenile Court Petition which seeks to hold Frampton in contempt of court.[1] Defendants filed an opposition to the Motion for Preliminary Injunction.[2] Plaintiff filed a reply memorandum in support of his Motion for Preliminary Injunction.[3]

Also before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).[4] Plaintiff filed an opposition, [5] and Defendants filed a reply.[6]

On August 6, 2021, an evidentiary hearing on Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction was held by Zoom.[7] Following the filing of the trial transcript of the preliminary injunction hearing into the record, [8] Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law were filed by Plaintiff[9]and Defendants.[10] Each filed a response to the other's submission.[11]

The Court has carefully considered the law, facts in the record and arguments and submissions of counsel and is prepared to rule. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction[12] is granted and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6)[13] is denied.

II. PARTIES

Plaintiff Frampton is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law.[14] Frampton teaches criminal procedure, criminal law, and civil rights litigation.[15] He is a resident of Virginia.[16] This Frampton is also a lawyer licensed in Louisiana.[17]

Plaintiff filed this action against Defendants City/Parish, Broome in her individual and official capacities as Mayor[18] of the City/Parish, [19] and Paul in his official capacity as Chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department (“BRPD”).[20] Defendant City/Parish is a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana and is the party which filed the petition in Juvenile Court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is at the center of this controversy (Juvenile Court Petition” or “Petition”). The Petition includes a rule to show cause why Frampton should not be held in contempt of the Juvenile Court (“Contempt Motion”) for releasing dash camera and body camera video footage taken by BRPD officers which allegedly documents misconduct by BRPD and captures the arrest and search of a juvenile (“BRPD Video” or “Video”).[21]

Frampton alleges that Broome, as Mayor-President of the City/Parish, is the chief executive and final policymaker for the City/Parish and the BRPD.[22] According to Plaintiff, Broome finalizes policies and practices of the BRPD and is also the final policymaker regarding what legal actions the City/Parish Attorney's Office pursues on behalf of the City/Parish.[23] She also is alleged to be the final policymaker and has decision-making authority as to what actions the City/Parish and its subdivisions have taken against Frampton. Defendant Paul is Chief of the BRPD. He is alleged to be the final policymaker for the BRPD and a final policymaker as to what actions are taken by BRPD.[24] BRPD was established through the City-Parish Plan of Government and is a part of the City/Parish.[25]

III. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. January 1, 2020 Stop Of Clarence Green Vehicle

On January 1, 2020, Clarence Green (“Green”) and his younger brother F.B. (a juvenile) were passengers in a car travelling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[26] The car was stopped by BRPD officers. As described by United States District Judge Brian Jackson of the Middle District of Louisiana, the officers ...

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