Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 3, 2018

Fed Dist Court in LA Denies City’s Motion for a Three Month Delay for the Preliminary Injunction Hearing in a Civil Rights Action Challenging the Constitutionality of the City’s Murals-Permit Scheme

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

On November 4, 2017, Neal Morris commissioned a local artist to paint a mural on a commercial property he owned. The mural quotes a comment made by Donald Trump, recorded in a 2005 “Access Hollywood” segment; the mural replaces with pictograms two vulgar words used by Trump. Four days later, the City of New Orleans Department of Safety and Permits sent Morris a letter advising him that the mural violated a zoning ordinance. Specifically, Jennifer Cecil, the director of the City’s “One Stop for Permits and Licenses,” stated the mural was a violation of Section 12.2.4(8) of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, which concerned “Prohibited Signs—Historic District.” Morris was then told to remove the mural, but rather than do so, Morris brought suit against the City, and moved for a preliminary injunction.
The City requested that the Court move the preliminary injunction hearing, set for April 18, 2018, until July 25, 2018. The City claimed that this continuance would allow the City “to take the steps necessary to legislatively amend the City Code section 134-78A, which will moot this litigation entirely.” However, the City could offer no guarantee that its proposed ordinance – which had not yet been drafted – would be passed, or if it would even redress the plaintiff’s alleged constitutional harm. As such, the Court found that the City’s request for a three-month delay in reaching the merits of Morris’s request for injunctive relief was unreasonable even under the circumstances of an upcoming change in administration. The City’s second motion was therefore denied.

Morris v City of New Orleans, 2018 WL 1705577 (ED LA 4/9/2018)

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