U.S. v. Scott, No. 3:95cv1216 (AHN).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Writing for the CourtNevas
Citation958 F.Supp. 761
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, et al., v. Stanley G. SCOTT, et al.
Decision Date02 April 1997
Docket NumberNo. 3:95cv1216 (AHN).
958 F.Supp. 761
UNITED STATES of America, et al.,
v.
Stanley G. SCOTT, et al.
No. 3:95cv1216 (AHN).
United States District Court, D. Connecticut.
April 2, 1997.

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Richard Blumenthal, Hartford, Attorney General, for State of Connecticut.

Christopher Droney, U.S. Attorney, New Haven, Sharon Jaffe, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Bridgeport, Carolyn Ikari and Barbara Bailey Jongbloed, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, New Haven, Jennifer Jaff, Thomas Ring and Alvin Wilson, Assistant Attorneys General, Hartford, for U.S.

Bruce Green, Stephen Crampton and Brian Fahling, Tupelo, MS, for defendants Carmen Vasquez and Bobby Riley.

James Altham, Hamden, CT, for defendant Stanley Scott.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

NEVAS, District Judge.


Plaintiffs United States of America and State of Connecticut bring this action against defendants Stanley G. Scott ("Scott"), Carmen E.F. Vazquez ("Vazquez"), and Bobby J. Riley ("Riley"), alleging violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act ("FACE"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 248(a)—248(e). The plaintiffs' claim that the defendants have in the past, and will likely again in the future, violate FACE by interfering with access to the Summit Women's Center ("Summit") in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a health clinic that provides reproductive health services. (See Second Am.Compl. ¶ 1.) The plaintiffs seek injunctive relief.

A violation of FACE occurs when a person "by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person because that person is ... obtaining or providing reproductive health services." 18 U.S.C. § 248(a)(1). FACE expressly provides that conduct which is protected by the First Amendment does not violate the statute. See 18 U.S.C. § 248(d)(1). Thus, because a remedy for a violation of FACE would necessarily result in a restriction of First Amendment rights, the evidence establishing a violation must be unequivocal.

The issues in this case are whether the defendants violated FACE and, if so, the appropriate remedy. This case is not about whether abortion is right or wrong. Its purpose is not to provide a forum for debate between individuals who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice. It only concerns the application of FACE to the specific facts presented at trial and the court's ruling should in no way be construed as an approving or disapproving commentary on the activities of the abortion demonstrators or the clinic escorts.

The case was tried to the court over nine days in March of 1997. At trial, the plaintiffs and defendants presented twenty-seven and twenty-four witnesses, respectively, and various documentary and videotape evidence. Based on this evidence, the court makes the following findings of fact.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Summit is a state-licensed clinic that provides pregnancy testing and abortion services,

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as well as other gynecological and reproductive health services. (See Joint Stipulation Uncontroverted Facts and Statement Contested Issues Fact and Law [hereinafter "Joint Stip."] ¶ 1; 3/3/97 Test. Jeanne Rosen ("Rosen").)

2. Summit also provides birth control counseling and "options" counseling. In options counseling, the counselor discusses the options that are available to women who are pregnant: carrying the pregnancy to term; placing the child for adoption; or terminating the pregnancy. (See 3/3/97 Test. Rosen.)

3. Summit is located in a three-story building at 211 Middle Street, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. (See App. A; Joint Stip. ¶ 2.)

4. The building in which Summit is located is not set back from the sidewalk. The clinic's only public entrance is directly at the edge of the sidewalk. (See 3/3/97 Test. Captain John Donovan ("Donovan"); 3/3/97 Test. Rosen; Pls.' Ex. 41.)

5. The width of the sidewalk outside Summit is approximately thirteen and one-half feet. (See Joint Stip. ¶ 4; Pls.' Ex. 41.)

6. The doors to Summit are set back in an entrance way approximately six feet from the edge of the sidewalk. The entrance way is nine feet wide at the point where it meets the sidewalk. It narrows to a width of six feet at the doors into the clinic. (See Joint Stip. ¶ 3; Pls.' Ex. 41.)

7. Summit is usually open for business at approximately 7:45 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday. (See id. ¶ 5.)

8. Patients coming to Summit by car typically park in one of three parking lots identified as "Parking #1," "Parking # 2," and "Parking # 3," (the "parking lots") on the map attached to this ruling as Appendix A. (See App. A.; 3/3/97 Test. Captain Donovan; 3/3/97 Test. Rosen.)

9. Patients coming to Summit by bus typically exit the bus at one of its stops on Main Street and walk down either Gold Street or Golden Hill Street to reach Middle Street, the street on which Summit is located. (See App. A; 3/3/97 Test. Captain Donovan; 3/3/97 Test. Rosen.)

10. Abortions ordinarily are performed at Summit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. (See id. ¶ 6.)

11. Summit performs both first and second trimester abortions. (See id. ¶ 7.)

12. Second trimester abortions routinely involve a two-day process. On the first day a laminaria is inserted in the patient's cervix to stimulate dilation. The patient returns the next day for the abortion procedure. (See 3/5/97 Test. Dr. Mary Jane Minkin ("Minkin").)

13. Since it opened in 1975, Summit has been the subject of regular anti-abortion protests. (See 3/6/97 Test. Scott.)

14. The largest number of anti-abortion demonstrators at Summit is present on Saturdays. (See 3/3/97 Test. Rosen.)

15. Ordinarily, there are between fifteen and forty demonstrators at Summit on Saturdays, between seven and twenty-five demonstrators on Tuesdays, and between one and five demonstrators on Wednesdays. (See id.; 3/6/97 Test. Scott.)

16. Anti-abortion activities at Summit consist of demonstrators who pray, carry signs, and walk in circles on the sidewalk in front of the clinic, or congregate on street corners in the immediate vicinity. (See 3/4/97 Test. Officer Douglas Woods ("Woods"); 3/12/97 Test. Vazquez.)

17. Demonstrators referred to as "sidewalk counselors" approach clinic patients, their companions, clinic staff and others when they arrive in the vicinity of Summit, and attempt to dissuade them from entering the clinic. (See 3/12/97 Test. Vazquez; 3/10/97 Test. Riley.)

18. "Sidewalk counseling" is a designation adopted by the pro-life movement to describe the activities of persons who stand on the public ways near abortion centers and offer pro-life literature, factual information, and personal opinions about abortion to persons who enter the centers. The articulated purpose of such activities is to inform women of the risks and immoral nature of, and the alternatives to, abortion, and to persuade them to seek such alternatives. (See 3/12/97 Test. Vazquez; 3/10/97 Test. Riley.)

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19. During the period from 1975 through most of 1996, summit contracted with the Bridgeport Police Department to hire off-duty police officers to provide security at the clinic on Tuesdays and Saturdays. (See Joint Stip. ¶ 8.)

20. In addition to hiring off-duty Bridgeport police officers, Summit periodically has hired private security guards to provide security at the clinic on Tuesdays and Saturdays. (See 3/3/97 Test. Rosen; 3/3/97 Test. Randell Peterson ("Peterson").)

21. At some point between the fall of 1992 and the spring of 1993, students from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, as part of a student organization called "Wescort," began to volunteer as escorts at Summit. Shortly thereafter, Patricia Hendrickson ("Hendrickson") organized local citizens into a volunteer group which began escorting at Summit. (See 3/6/97 Test. Scott; 3/6/97 Test. Jean-Marc Ellis ("Ellis"); 3/11/97 Test. Hendrickson.)

22. Hendrickson currently directs the escort group at Summit. (See 3/11/97 Test. Hendrickson.)

23. Hendrickson gives each escort written instructions which outline the procedures for meeting potential clinic patients approaching Summit. The instructions direct the escort to ask the patients whether they would like to be escorted into the clinic and whether they would like to take the escort's arm. (See Pls.' Ex. 17; 3/4/97 Test. Love; 3/3/97 Test. Rhoda Soloway ("Soloway"); 3/4/97 Test. Carol Broadman ("Broadman"); 3/4/97 Test. Corinne Charlap ("Charlap"); 3/4/97 Test. Ann Scheps ("Scheps").)

24. Escorts wear yellow pinafores which have the words "CLINIC ESCORT" prominently displayed in English and Spanish on both the front and back. (See Test. Elizabeth Love ("Love").)

25. Escorts provide escort services at Summit every Tuesday and Saturday. (See id,; 3/3/97 Test. Rosen.)

26. The escorts' sole purpose is to ensure safe access to and exit from Summit by the clinic's doctors, staff, patients, and people who accompany them.1 (See 3/4/97 Test. Love; 3/3/97; 3/4/97 Test. Charlap; 3/3/97 Test. Soloway; 3/4/97 Test. Scheps.)

27. Although sidewalk counselors attempt to give the clients literature and talk to them about abortion in an effort to persuade them to change their minds about going into Summit, it is the counselors' general practice to "swarm" around any car that parks on the street near Summit or in one of the parking lots nearby, (see App. A) because they assume that the occupants intend to go to Summit. (See 3/4/7 Test. Officer Frank D'Amore ("D'Amore"); Pls.' Exs. 40, 550.)

28. Officer Woods testified that the sidewalk counselors run at approaching cars in a "bum's rush," trying to convince the occupants not to enter Summit. (See 3/4/97 Test. Officer Woods.)

29. Sidewalk counselors also approach patients as they are walking along Main Street, Golden Hill Street, Gold Street and Middle Street (see App. A) towards the clinic entrance, and as they are crossing the street from the parking lots. (See 3/12/97 Test. Vazquez; 3/7/97...

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    ...period after the unlawful employment action orPage 19 the claims must be dismissed. See, e.g., Sauceda v. Univ. of Texas at Brownsville, 958 F. Supp. 761, 766-767 (S.D. Tex. 2013). Although Defendants cite Texas Education Code § 111.81 to support their claim that UHV is a state university, ......
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    ...this evidence would meet the more stringent burden required to prove a criminal charge against Melfi. Compare United States v. Scott, 958 F. Supp. 761, 777 (D.Conn. 1997) (providing injunctive relief where plaintiffs in a civil case prove a violation of F.A.C.E. by a preponderance of the ev......
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12 cases
  • Operation Rescue-National v. Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, Inc., RESCUE-NATIONAL
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • October 15, 1998
    ...Inc. v. Bell, 424 Mass. 573, 677 N.E.2d 204 (1997); Murray v. Lawson, 138 N.J. 206, 649 A.2d 1253 (1994); United States v. Scott, 958 F.Supp. 761 (D.Conn.1997); United States v. McMillan, 946 F.Supp. 1254 (S.D.Miss.1995); United States v. Lindgren, 883 F.Supp. 1321 (D.N.D.1995); Planned Par......
  • Clift v. City of Burlington, Case No. 2:12–cv–214.
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    • February 19, 2013
    ...and on at least two occasions by using the threat of force.” 187 F.3d 282, 284–85 (2d Cir.1999) (quoting United States v. Scott, 958 F.Supp. 761, 775–76 (D.Conn.1997)). After repeated violations of a narrower injunction, the District Court precluded Scott from entering within 28 feet of the......
  • Yu v. Univ. of Houston At Victoria, CIVIL ACTION H-16-3138
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    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • August 23, 2017
    ...period after the unlawful employment action orPage 19 the claims must be dismissed. See, e.g., Sauceda v. Univ. of Texas at Brownsville, 958 F. Supp. 761, 766-767 (S.D. Tex. 2013). Although Defendants cite Texas Education Code § 111.81 to support their claim that UHV is a state university, ......
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