MALDEF

Gray v. City of Valley Park, Missouri

In July 2006, the City of Valley Park, Missouri enacted two anti-immigrant ordinances penalizing businesses and landlords for hiring or renting to undocumented persons. MALDEF and a coalition of attorneys successfully challenged the original ordinances and amended ordinances enacted during the litigation in Reynolds v. City of Valley Park, Missouri (Reynolds I). On March 12, 2007, the Honorable Barbara Wallace of the Missouri Circuit Court, County of St. Louis, ruled that the ordinances violated state law because the fines imposed by the City exceeded those permitted by state law. Judge Wallace permanently enjoined the City of Valley Park from enforcing the ordinances. In 2008, the City’s appeal of the Reynolds I decision was dismissed as moot by the Missouri Court of Appeals. Judge Wallace subsequently denied the City’s motion asking her to vacate her March 2007 ruling and injunction.

Shortly before Judge Wallace issued her March 2007 injunction against the City of Valley Park, the City enacted revised versions of the earlier ordinances. MALDEF, the ACLU, pro bono counsel from Jenner & Block and a coalition of attorneys again filed suit against the City, representing one of the plaintiffs in the original Reynolds litigation. After MALDEF filed the new suit, Gray v. City of Valley Park, Missouri, the City repealed the ordinance that attempted to impose penalties on landlords. The City also removed the new case from state court to federal court. Despite the Gray plaintiffs’ arguments that the remaining ordinance (penalizing businesses) was governed by the outcome in Reynolds I, Judge Richard E. Webber of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri issued a ruling in favor of the City. MALDEF, the ACLU and counsel filed a timely appeal of that decision, and in June and September 2008 filed briefs in support of their position.

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