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Baxter v. City of Hernando

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

January 28, 2014

TALMADGE D. BAXTER, PLAINTIFF
v.
THE CITY OF HERNANDO, MISSISSIPPI, DEFENDANT

For Talmadge D. Baxter, Plaintiff: David G. Hill, Tiffany Leigh Kilpatrick, LEAD ATTORNEYS, HILL, and MINYARD, P.A., Oxford, MS.

For The City of Hernando, Mississippi, Defendant: Daniel J. Griffith, LEAD ATTORNEY, GRIFFITH & GRIFFITH, Cleveland, MS; Kenneth Edward Stockton, LEAD ATTORNEY, STOCKTON LAW OFFICE, Hernando, MS.

OPINION

Page 464

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MICHAEL P. MILLS, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter was tried on January 22, 2014. After consideration of arguments made by counsel during trial, witness testimony, and the record before the court, the court is now prepared to rule.

Talmadge Baxter was cited for violating a city code ordinance of Hernando, Mississippi after he was warned by city officials to remove a trailer that acted as a quasi-billboard on his property. Baxter brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging the ordinance as unconstitutional as applied to him, facially overbroad and void for vagueness and requests declaratory and injunctive relief declaring that the ordinance violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and seeking to enjoin the City of Hernando from enforcing the ordinance.

The ordinance at issue states the following types of signs are prohibited in Hernando:

Signs attached to, suspended from or painted on any vehicle which is regularly parked on any street or private property to display [sic] demonstrate, advertise or attract the attention of the public.

Article XI, Section F, Paragraph 3 of the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Hernando.

Baxter failed to appear at his scheduled hearing regarding the violation of the zoning ordinance, and therefore the ordinance violation and a Criminal Contempt of Court- Failure to Appear charge were both heard in Municipal Court on June 16, 2010. The Hernando Municipal Court found Mr. Baxter in violation of the sign ordinance and fined him $246.50. The trial judge determined that the term " vehicle" was not unconstitutionally vague in violation of his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Mr. Baxter appealed his violation and contempt conviction to the County Court of DeSoto County.

On February 28, 2012, the appeal was heard and County Court Judge Allen Couch affirmed ...


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