Escondido settles checkpoints suit

David Garrick North County Times
David Garrick
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Escondido has settled a lawsuit by agreeing to let opponents of the city’s traffic checkpoints protest, film and record the stops, officials from the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday.

The ACLU, which filed the suit in federal court in May, hailed the settlement as a vindication of the protesters’ free-speech rights granted by the First Amendment.

The settlement allows the city to exclude protesters from the specific and limited areas where vehicles are initially stopped and where secondary inspections are conducted. But the settlement prevents other limitations from being placed on them.

“This is a fair settlement that protects the First Amendment and respects the city’s legitimate law-
enforcement interests,” David Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, said in a written statement.

Acting Escondido Police Chief Cory Moles said in a statement that the agreement will allow his department to continue to use checkpoints to ensure community safety, while also protecting the First Amendment rights of citizens.

Drivers are asked at the checkpoints to show their licenses and vehicle registrations.

Protesters frequently demonstrate against the stops, saying they discriminate against illegal immigrants or that the city’s motive for the checkpoints is generating revenue from towing and impounding cars.

The lawsuit cited three instances in 2011 and 2012 during which police officers forced protesters to move.

Under the settlement, Escondido also will pay $7,300 in attorney’s fees and court costs, ACLU officials said.

The ACLU and the California Highway Patrol, which was a second defendant in the suit, haven’t settled, ACLU officials said.

Escondido settles checkpoints suit : Escondido