DENVER (CBS4) – A district court judge ruled Denver’s camping ban is constitutional, reversing a lower court decision from 2019. The Sept. 3 ruling stems from a motion to dismiss a ticket issued to Jerry Burton, a man experiencing homelessness.
A Denver county court judge ruled in December that the urban camping ban violates the 8th Amendment regarding cruel and unusual punishment. The now-reversed ruling did not prohibit the enforcement of the camping ban.
Burton’s attorney, Andy McNulty, plans to appeal the district court’s ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court.
“The camping ban is cruel and unusual punishment. That is the lived experience of our unhoused neighbors and we don’t need a court to tell us what is just true,” McNulty said in a statement to CBS4. “We will continue to fight until Denver stops embarrassing our unhoused neighbors for simply existing.”
In his ruling, District Court Judge J. Eric Elliff stated that it was only after Burton was offered shelter and refused that he was cited for violating the city’s ordinance.
“In its enforcement of the Ordinance, the City was not motivated by a discriminatory purpose nor a desire to harm a ‘politically unpopular group,’ and thus there was no ‘animus’ on the part of the City,” stated Judge Elliff.
The Denver City Attorney’s Office released the following statement to CBS4:
“The City very intentionally drafted its Unauthorized Camping Ordinance to recognize the needs of all Denver residents and the special circumstances of those experiencing homelessness. We have implemented a humane and compassionate approach to enforcement. Our priority it to get resources and shelter to those who need it.”
Burton’s case will be remanded to Denver County Court for a new trial on its merits.