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Sat Mar 3, 2018, 06:36 AM

Homeless Class Action Lawsuit Could Be Heading Toward "Monster Trial"

Remember that big federal lawsuit in which thousands of people experiencing homelessness are suing Denver, alleging that their constitutional rights are being violated during sweeps of their encampments? We caught up with the representing attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, to find out the latest.

But first, a quick primer:

The saga began back in August 2016, when Flores-Williams sued the city — as well as Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Police Chief Robert White — in federal court, alleging that the constitutional rights of the homeless were being violated when the city conducted large-scale sweep operations. Flores-Williams alleged that Denver violated the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments (protection against unlawful searches and seizures and the equal-protection clause, respectively) when it was confiscating — and in some instances trashing — the belongings of people experiencing homelessness.

In April 2017, the case became a big deal when U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez made the rare step of granting class certification, making every person experiencing homelessness in Denver (over 3,000 people) a plaintiff in the case against the city. Flores-Williams called the ruling “historic” at the time, and the suit soon gained additional firepower when civil-rights attorney David Lane jumped on board as Flores-Williams’s co-counsel.

The two attorneys gathered evidence through depositions of city officials and by requesting city emails, and were so confident in the strength of the evidence they obtained that they filed a motion for summary judgment in August — meaning they asked the federal court to rule without a full trial. In response, the city also made its own motion for summary judgment.

Read more: http://www.westword.com/news/denvers-homeless-class-action-lawsuit-could-end-in-trial-10035815

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