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United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
December 31, 2020, Decided; December 31, 2020, Filed
Civ. No. 18-05359 (KM) (ESK)
KEVIN MCNULTY, U.S.D.J.:
Plaintiff Sirrano Keith Baldeo publishes a local newspaper and has been a frequent critic of the Paterson City Council. He alleges that the Council1 has taken various actions against him and his newspaper. In response, he has sued the Council under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act ("NJCRA"), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:6-2, for violations of his federal [*2] and state constitutional rights. The Council moves for summary judgment. (DE 39.)2 For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
Baldeo published a newspaper called The New Jersey Pulse (formerly The Paterson Pulse) that covered issues in Northern New Jersey. (Baldeo Dep. at 11:13-22.) He also ran a Facebook page called "The New Jersey Pulse News Opinions and Editorial." (Id. at 69:7-11.) In articles and posts, he described personal disputes with Councilmembers, criticized the Council, and otherwise voiced his opinions on Paterson's governance. (E.g., DE 39-8.) He also attended Council meetings to air his issues. (Baldeo Dep. at 144:19-21.) What happened at three Council meetings as well as certain actions by Councilmembers form the basis for his claims. I describe each separately below.
1. March 22, 2016 Meeting
Mr. Baldeo testified that he attended a Council meeting on March 22, 2016 where he accused the Council of "[h]aving their own demons." (Id. at 142:9-43:2.) After that statement, he was removed from the Council Chamber and prevented from speaking further. (Id. at 150:4-51:4.)3
2. April 5, 2016 Meeting
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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 245341 *; 2020 WL 7778084
SIRRANO KEITH BALDEO, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF PATERSON, COUNCILMAN WILLIAM MCKOY, COUNCILWOMAN RUBY N. COTTON, COUNCILWOMAN MARITZA DAVILA, COUNCILMAN MICHAEL JACKSON, COUNCILMAN DOMINGO MENDEZ, COUNCILMAN KENNETH M. MORRIS, JR., COUNCILMAN ANDRE SAYEGH, COUNCILMAN LUIS VELEZ, COUNCILMAN SHAHIN KHALIQUE, COUNCILMAN MOHAMMAED AKHTARUZZAMAN, COUNCILMAN JULIO TAVAREZ, and JOHN DOES A-Z, Defendants.
Prior History: Baldeo v. City of Paterson, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9636, 2019 WL 277600 (D.N.J., Jan. 18, 2019)
newspapers, summary judgment, alleges, council meeting, viewpoint, rights, removal, Councilmembers, meetings, filming, constitutional right, public portion, public forum, violations, reasons, constitutional claim, police protection, due process, retaliation, attendee, speaking, genuine, notices, camera, hired, private investigator, council president, material fact, surveillance, limitations
Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Judgments, Burdens of Proof, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Section 1983 Actions, Scope, Evidence, Allocation, Procedural Matters, Statute of Limitations, Governments, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, Torts, Borrowing Statutes, Punitive Damages, Availability, Corporations, Extensions & Revivals, Begins to Run, Continuing Violations, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Speech, Forums, Local Governments, Administrative Boards, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Employees & Officials, Genuine Disputes, Claims By & Against, Property, Pleading & Practice, Motion Practice, Content & Form, Elements, Protected Rights, Prisoner Rights, Freedom of Speech, Supporting Materials, Affidavits, Substantive Due Process, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection