Federal Judge Denies Occupy Dallas's Motion for TRO. So, What Will City Hall Do Now ...?

occupy_city_hall_camp_2011-27.jpg
Photo by Chris Howell
This morning, U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle denied the request by Occupy Dallas for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented City Hall from evicting the Occupiers based on specific sections of the October agreement. Occupy Dallas Attorney Jonathan Winocour repeatedly called portions of the arrangement with the city "ambiguous," and said that this disparity leaves room for questions as to whether Occupy Dallas has violated the agreement.

But whether the city will terminate its agreement with Occupy Dallas and "enforce all laws on the property," including removing tents, as outlined in a letter from the city last week, remains to be seen.

"We are evaluating the situation," says City Hall spokesman Frank Librio, who expects to meet with City Manager Mary Suhm later today. The mayor's office has no response pending a meeting with Suhm that was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Librio says that if the city has a response, we shouldn't expect it till late in the day, around 4 or 5 p.m.

"This is not necessarily the city saying, 'We will shut it down today,'" Winocour says, adding that he's "disappointed, but again, not terribly surprised" by the judge's decision. Winocour says he too doesn't know what he will do next, and that he will now meet with his clients to discuss their next steps. No matter what, he says of the larger message of the Occupy movement, "We hope that noise continues to reverberate for a while."

Winocour argued that the terms of the contract -- regarding trash disposal, outlining parameters for signage, restricting use of the City Hall bathrooms, among other things -- were "ambiguous," and that the agreement between the city and Occupy Dallas should be more carefully outlined before the city could break up the encampment. He added that cities all around the country have been tightening restrictions and shutting down encampments; look no further than New York City.

"It sounds like what he wants the court to do is rewrite the contract," Assistant City Attorney Chris Caso said while defending the city in front of Boyle. He argued that Occupy Dallas did not satisfy the burden of proof necessary to merit a temporary restraining order, and in the end, Boyle agreed.


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37 comments
trump thumper
trump thumper

Time to get up in the grills of some welfare-larded faux-capitalist banker-types.

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

At first, I thought this was about the Occupiers leaving the seat up in the City's toilet. From the later televised statements of Mr. Winocour and faux Greek Chorus, it appears that there may have been a bit of illegal activity beyond that breach of etiquette. Typically, the occupants of City Hall smoke their medicine off premises.

Granny
Granny

You know, I'll bet if they moved this demonstration to the parking lot of Red Bird Mall, nobody would ask them to leave.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

The Federal Judge ruling on the NY situation has said that "First Amendment rights not do include remaining there [Zucotti Park], "along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion of the owner's reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park."

Looks like the strategy of making this a game of LawyerBall isn't going to work out well for the OD'ers.

I'm stupid
I'm stupid

I don't understand what the city gets out of worrying about all this and making them leave.  All the public safety reasons I've read about just seem made up as a matter of convenience.  I also don't understand why people use their lack of understanding of the OD'ers motivations, or the ODers lack concisely stated intentions, to bash OD.  Seems like a good thing to let objectives form over time as more and more people are brought in.  The rush to some idealistic proclamation or pledge hasn't made the opposing voices any more palatable.

Paul
Paul

It is interesting that Mr. Winocour claims that the document is vague and ambiguous.  Yet there is this portion in the agreement titled "Comprehension of Agreement"

The Parties represent and warrant that they: (I) have carefully read and reviewed this Agreement, (2) have had it fully explained to them, (3) have had the opportunity to consult with legal counsel of their choice regarding the terms and advisability of this Agreement prior to executing, (3) have had the opportunity to consult with legal counsel of their choice regatding the terms and advisability of this Agreement prior to executing, (4) fully understand the terms and conditions of this Agreement, including its final and binding effect, and (5) have entered into this Agreement freely and without duress.

And then there is this:

No Strict Construction Against Author.

This Agreement and the exhibits attached thereto are the result of substantial negotiationsbetween and among the Parties and their counsel. The Parties acknowledge that each of them has had the benefit of counsel of their own choice. The Parties further acknowledge that they have, through their respective counsel, participated in the preparation of this Agreement and the exhibits attached thereto. Accordingly. it is immaterial that counsel for one Party or another may have drafted this Agreement, the exhibits attached thereto, or any portion of these documents. In the event of any dispute over the documents' meaning, application, interpretation, or construction, the documents shall be construed reasonably such that no ambiguities are resolved presumptively against any Party as a matter of law.

Basically Mr. Winocour, you and your clients acknowledged that they understand this document and its final and binding effect.

What part of Condition 5, specifically: "Occupy Dallas shall not use the restroom facilities in City Hall." is ambiguous?

Have a nice whatever there behind City Hall.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

This just in from attorney Jonathan Winocour:

In light of this morning’s ruling by US District Judge Jane Boyle, in which the court determined the City’s Motion for Removal of Occupy Dallas’ state court action was proper, denied Occupy Dallas’ Motion to Remand, and further denied Occupy Dallas’ request for a Temporary Restraining Order, it is Occupy Dallas understanding that, at 4pm today, when a temporary accord with the City reached yesterday expires, the City may begin moving the occupants.  While Occupy Dallas has asked for a statement of intent from the City, none has been forthcoming. It is Occupy Dallas’ hope the City will recognize that it continues to abide by the terms and conditions of its agreement with the City, and that it should not be removed, at least until the expiration of the settlement agreement entered into on October 17, 2011, scheduled to expire on December 14, 2011.  Occupy Dallas also reminds the City, that despite Judge Boyle’s ruling this morning, the suit it has filed seeking a declaration of its and the City’s rights and responsibilities under the settlement agreement remains pending, and at this time it intends to continue to prosecute that suit.  It maintains it has satisfied its burden in showing there is an imminent threat of irreparable injury,  that absent the extraordinary relief requested, it will be left without any adequate remedy at law, that it has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of its declaratory judgment action, that the balance of hardships to the parties weighs in its favor, and that the grant of the relief requested would not constitute an adverse effect on the public interest, rather, quite the opposite.  Occupy Dallas is also considering whether any additional legal options remain available to it. Occupy Dallas remains committed to non-violent, lawful protest, and engages in occupation in order to raise public awareness of socio-political and economic injustice and unfairness. Thank you for your continued interest and attention.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

The OD must be packing, usually by now there would be 50 comments on here about why camping is free speech

trudat
trudat

Ok OD; it might be time to move it to the next level.  This might be a sign to go in another direction.  The struggle has not ended but it may have changed fronts.

Fletch
Fletch

While I do support at least one message that Occupiers are calling attention to (corporate greed and its influence on our government), I have never understood their need to build tent cities and camp out every single night.  This goes for Occupy encampments in any city.  Surely these people came from somewhere and I'd imagine that most have homes of some sort.  Protest during the day and go home when night falls.  Repeat as necessary.

Albert
Albert

These people have no end game, they need the government to provide one. Now they can go home, having done their part to change the world.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

Bye Bye to Camp OccupyMove your tents and your assesthe City's patience is dry

Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan

What were the issues cited in this? I'm hearing that the tents weren't the issue, but can't find a single news source that tells the "why" part of the story.

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

As Americans, we are being subjected to a police state wheredissidence is not being tolerated.  Theseevictions exemplify the suppression of our civil liberties including the rightto organize, one of the basis rights set forth by our founding fathers.  Police brutality is running rampant underorders from Governors who have their pockets lined with Wall Street and SpecialInterest monies.   Stand up and lend yourvoice to the global protest with the information sources and art listed on myartist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...

RTGolden
RTGolden

You're not stupid.  It's all a matter of perspective.  Some people take a more lackadaisical approach to getting things accomplished, sort of an "If we build it, they will come" mentality.  This is OD's approach.  No need for clear objectives or understandable intentions.  This approach works well in dating and other intimate relationships, in doing business with the city of dallas, and other mundane aspects of life.

Most actions carried out to achieve lofty goals (well high aspirations, anyway), if they are to be successful, are part of a carefully thought out and planned campaign.  The Pacific Campaign of WWII was carefully thought out and carried out according to a plan.  This allowed Allied forces to consolidate gains and provide security for logistics and infrastructure coming behind the spearhead.  "Shock and Awe" was idiotic by any serious study of military strategy.  A balls-out race to Baghdad, with no consideration for securing the rear, providing for logistics or infrastructure to come along behind the attack.  The results:  WWII Pacific was a bloody and costly series of battles, rife with civilian tragedy, that led to an empowered peace in which the combatants could rebuild their countries.  "Shock and Awe" was a relatively easy sweep, with low casualties both military and civilian, that led to an erroneous declaration of victory, bloody sectarian violence, rampant abuse by paramilitary profiteers, and a country that, after 9 years, still is lacking basic infrastructure, or the means to accomplish it.

Now the Occupy movement is not war, I get that.  However, follow the two paths to logical conclusions.  In one (which we are seeing at other "occupations") the lack of a clear objective and plan of attack leaves a population befuddled, not sure what these people are doing.  The lack of offering up solutions to anything leads cities to believe the occupation is just that, an occupation, not a protest, so the cities decide to restore rule of law and enforce curfews and other regulations in parks.  Violence ensues.

The flip side: Occupiers protest, presenting a clear, concise message to the public, the media, and the government:  "We are against X, Y, Z"  The protest occupies public ground, to demonstrate we are against X, Y, Z.  The city says, 'hey, you can't camp in city parks, but, let's sit down and work something out" (OD did this).  Then you abide by the terms of that agreement, and continue demonstrating your objective.  The public understands what you are doing(even if they don't agree), the city knows you're not trying to overthrow the government or set up a refugee camp in their parks.

Occupy Dallas is trying to inhabit a grey area between these two extremes.  The fact that they have no objective and refuse to establish a chain of command is hurting them.  Hiding behind legal mumbo jumbo is definitely turning the common man away from them, average people despise this talk of 'ambiguity'.  The agreements says keep the camp clean and don't use city hall restrooms.  To the average Joe, that is pretty damn clear.

Jonathan Winocour
Jonathan Winocour

Ambiguity arises in the implementation of initially settled and understood terms in agreements all the time. What seems clear in the abstract, becomes ambiguous in reality. That's why we our legislature provided a mechanism to seek declaratory judgments in Texas by adopting the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act. Thank you for your attention and your interest.  

Paul
Paul

Robert:

I have been looking for the story where the agreement between the City and OD was posted.

Would you please provide a link?

Thank you

Mike
Mike

They had better get moving if they are going.  It's going to rain this evening.and tomorrow and you do not move your stuff in typical TX downpour.

Mott Romney
Mott Romney

I think OD needs to invite the Texas Tea Party to re-enact the fight scene from Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

EDM
EDM

It is not much of an "occupation" if you go home every night.  Would the Seige of Leningrad have been so brutal if the Germans went home every night?

cp
cp

Luv ya James!

RTGolden
RTGolden

Page back a few days.  The Observer did a pretty good story on it and posted Suhm's letter in it's entirety.

Paul
Paul

Hello Mr. Winocour:

Thank you for the definition of ambiguity and how it is resolved in the courts.  I am sure that there are some people on this board who will find it useful and informative.

I am afraid that I just don't see the ambiguities to which you are referring.

I wish you well in Court in the resolution of your claimed ambiguities.  I hope that your waiver of strict construction doesn't work against you.

I am certain that you are a good advocate of your client's interests, whatever they are.

Have a nice whatever behind City Hall.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

whats unclear about cleaning up your shit/trash (human/dog). not using city hall restrooms, and not placing tents within the cordoned off areas by the trees?

cp
cp

So is occupy a protect? Or an act of war? Which is it? 

Attrnlv
Attrnlv

This attorney is a jerk

Paul
Paul

It is Voltaire and the quote is:

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quo...

And then there is this for some folks:

A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats. Ben Franklin

Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quo...

Good luck and may the best advocate prevail ...

Jonathan Winocour
Jonathan Winocour

Apparently not a good enough advocate. There's a quote often attributed to Voltaire (though I don't think he actually said it) along the lines of "while I may not agree with what you say, I will give my life for your right to say it." Perhaps that will resonate with you. Again, thanks for your interest and attention.

Paul
Paul

Thank you Robert

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