A federal judge’s ruling last year that Denver officials must give seven days’ notice before sweeping most illegal homeless encampments was invalid, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded this week in a split decision.
The judge’s order, which came as part of a lawsuit filed by the advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud against the city, should never have been issued because the group and other plaintiffs were barred from bringing particular constitutional claims due to a previous legal settlement with Denver, a panel of three judges found in a 2-1 ruling.
The appeals court ended the judge’s preliminary injunction, which required Denver to give seven days’ notice before sweeps and set in place other requirements, like alerting City Council members about plans to clear encampments.
In an unusual move, the appeals court judges considered the prior legal settlement’s impact on the current lawsuit — and hung their ruling on it — even though Denver’s attorneys did not raise the issue in their appeal.
The sole dissenting judge, Veronica Rossman, took issue with that approach.