Case: Hecker v. Krepp

1:21-cv-00839 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: March 29, 2021

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case is about a public official who blocked a private citizen from viewing the Twitter account that she used for official communication with her constituents. On March 29, 2021, the plaintiff, a private citizen, filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendant, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission Representative for Single-Member District 6B10, violated his First Amendment rights by blocking him on a publ…

This case is about a public official who blocked a private citizen from viewing the Twitter account that she used for official communication with her constituents.

On March 29, 2021, the plaintiff, a private citizen, filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendant, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission Representative for Single-Member District 6B10, violated his First Amendment rights by blocking him on a public forum because of the viewpoint and content of his speech. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiff sought injunctive relief restoring his access to the public forum created by the defendant’s tweets and preventing her from excluding him because of speech content; a declaratory judgement that the defendant’s actions violated the First Amendment; nominal damages; and attorney’s fees.

On Twitter, users can “block” other users, which prevents the blocked user from seeing, replying to, or interacting with other replies to the blocking user’s tweets. Prior to the incident in question, the plaintiff had replied to multiple tweets posted by the defendant. Following the riots at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, the defendant tweeted a letter she had written urging long prison sentences for rioters and asked other commissioners to sign on. After tweeting her disdain the next day that almost none had signed, the plaintiff replied in a tweet, “Quite amazing to write a letter, ask 250 to sign it, have 249 not agree to sign, and then to announce publicly that the other 249 are the problem.” Later that day, the defendant blocked the plaintiff from viewing or interacting with her Twitter account.

This suit followed. The plaintiff’s complaint emphasized the official nature of the defendant’s Twitter account, noting that the account’s biography referenced the defendant’s official role on the Commission, and a substantial portion of the account’s tweets constituted official communication with constituents. Because the account was used for public business, the plaintiff argued that the defendant had created a public forum via the comment threads on her tweets and that blocking him based on content of speech therefore violated the First Amendment.

On April 27, 2021, the plaintiff filed an unopposed motion to dismiss in accordance with a settlement agreement. The defendant agreed to unblock the plaintiff on Twitter and not block him again in the future on any social media account used for official communication. Further, the District of Columbia agreed to pay the plaintiff an agreed-upon settlement amount.

On May 5, 2021, Judge Randolph D. Moss granted the motion to dismiss. The court ordered, pursuant to the settlement agreement, that the defendant must adhere to the social media access terms reached by the parties and retained jurisdiction to enforce this aspect of the settlement before dismissing the case.

Summary Authors

Jordan Schuler (9/22/2021)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/59773603/parties/hecker-v-rucker-krepp/


Judge(s)

Moss, Randolph Daniel (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia)

Harrow, Jason (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Amarillas, Fernando (District of Columbia)

Racine, Karl A. (District of Columbia)

Risher, Conrad Z. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Moss, Randolph Daniel (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia)

Harrow, Jason (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Amarillas, Fernando (District of Columbia)

Racine, Karl A. (District of Columbia)

Risher, Conrad Z. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Hecker v. Rucker

May 5, 2021 Docket
1

Complaint

March 29, 2021 Complaint
9-1

Settlement Agreement and Release

April 27, 2021 Settlement Agreement

Resources

Title Description External URL

Fighting For The First Amendment Online

James Harrow

We opened our virtual doors just a few weeks ago, and we already have our first lawsuit. It’s called Hecker v. Krepp, and it’s part of our attempt to strengthen the First Amendment as it applies to o… March 29, 2021 https://gerstein-harrow.com/blog/fighting-for-the-first-amendment-online

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/59773603/hecker-v-rucker-krepp/

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT against Kathryn Denise Rucker Krepp ( Filing fee $ 402 receipt number ADCDC-8335387) filed by Mark Hecker. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A Text-Only Recent Tweets of @kdrkrepp, # 2 Civil Cover Sheet, # 3 Summons)(Gerstein, Charles) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

1 Exhibit A Text-Only Recent Tweets of @kdrkrepp

View on RECAP

2 Civil Cover Sheet

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3 Summons

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March 29, 2021 RECAP
2

MOTION Waive the Identification of Address Requirements of Local Rule 5.1(c)(1) by Mark Hecker. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Gerstein, Charles) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

1 Memorandum in Support

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2 Text of Proposed Order

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March 29, 2021 PACER

NOTICE OF ERROR re 1 Complaint; emailed to charlie@gerstein-harrow.com, cc'd 0 associated attorneys -- The PDF file you docketed contained errors: 1. Incorrect coversheet. Please use the cover sheet at https://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/new-case-forms & file using the event Civil Cover Sheet., 2. COMPLIANCE DEADLINE is by close of business today. This case will not proceed any further until all errors are satisfied. (zsb, )

March 30, 2021 PACER
3

CIVIL COVER SHEET by MARK HECKER filed by MARK HECKER.(Gerstein, Charles) (Entered: 03/30/2021)

March 30, 2021 PACER

Notice of QC- New Case

March 30, 2021 PACER

Case Assigned to Judge Randolph D. Moss. (zsb)

March 31, 2021 PACER
4

SUMMONS (1) Issued Electronically as to KATHRYN DENISE RUCKER KREPP. (Attachment: # 1 Notice and Consent)(zsb) (Entered: 03/31/2021)

1 Notice and Consent

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March 31, 2021 PACER
5

ENTERED IN ERROR. . . . .RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the District of Columbia Attorney General. Date of Service Upon District of Columbia Attorney General 3/31/2021. ( Answer due for ALL D.C. DEFENDANTS by 4/21/2021.), RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on the Mayor of the District of Columbia. Date of Service Upon the Mayor for the District of Columbia on 3/31/2021. (Gerstein, Charles) Modified on 4/1/2021 (ztd). (Entered: 03/31/2021)

March 31, 2021 PACER

NOTICE OF ERROR re 5 Summons Returned Executed as to DC Attorney General; emailed to charlie@gerstein-harrow.com, cc'd 1 associated attorneys -- The PDF file you docketed contained errors: 1. Please refile document, 2. The Court only issued 1 summons for the defendant. Nothing is attached to this entry indicating service for the Mayor or DC Attorney General. (ztd, )

April 1, 2021 PACER
6

RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. KATHRYN DENISE RUCKER KREPP served on 3/31/2021 (ztd) (Entered: 04/01/2021)

April 1, 2021 PACER

Notice of QC

April 1, 2021 PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of Plaintiff Mark Hecker's Motion to Waive the Identification of Address Requirements of Local Rule 5.1(c)(1), it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED. Mr. Hecker may proceed in this action without disclosing his full residence address. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 4/5/2021. (lcrdm3)

April 5, 2021 PACER
7

STANDING ORDER: The parties are hereby ORDERED to comply with the directives set forth in the attached Standing Order. See document for details. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 4/5/2021. (lcrdm3) (Entered: 04/05/2021)

April 5, 2021 PACER

Order on Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

April 5, 2021 PACER
8

Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to Respond to Plaintiff's Complaint by KATHRYN DENISE RUCKER KREPP. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Risher, Conrad) Modified event on 4/21/2021 (ztd). (Entered: 04/20/2021)

1 Memorandum in Support

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2 Text of Proposed Order

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April 20, 2021 PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of Defendant's consent motion for extension of time to respond to Plaintiff's complaint, Dkt. 8, it is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED. It is further ORDERED that Defendant shall file its response to the complaint on or before April 28, 2021. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 4/21/2021. (lcrdm3)

April 21, 2021 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines AND Order on Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply

April 21, 2021 PACER
9

Unopposed MOTION to Dismiss by MARK HECKER. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A Settlement Agreement and Release)(Gerstein, Charles) Modified event title on 4/29/2021 (znmw). (Entered: 04/27/2021)

1

View on RECAP

April 27, 2021 PACER
10

Consent MOTION to Stay the Deadline to Respond to Plaintiff's Complaint by KATHRYN DENISE RUCKER KREPP. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Risher, Conrad) (Entered: 04/27/2021)

1 Memorandum in Support

View on PACER

2 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

April 27, 2021 PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of Defendant's consent motion to extend the deadline to respond to Plaintiff's complaint, Dkt. 10, it is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED. It is further ORDERED that Defendant shall file any response to Plaintiff's complaint on or before May 14, 2021. In addition, upon consideration of Plaintiff's unopposed motion for order of dismissal, Dkt. 9, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall jointly file, on or before May 7, 2021, a report with the Court explaining: (1) what legal authority requires or permits the Court to approve the settlement upon which the parties' proposed settlement is predicated; (2) what legal standards govern the Court's review of the parties' proposed settlement; and (3) what factual and legal basis exits to support the settlement. Alternatively, Plaintiff may file a notice of dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A). Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 4/28/2021. (lcrdm3)

April 28, 2021 PACER
11

STATUS REPORT in Response to Court Order by MARK HECKER. (Gerstein, Charles) (Entered: 04/28/2021)

April 28, 2021 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines AND Order on Motion to Stay

April 28, 2021 PACER

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the Plaintiff's unopposed motion to dismiss, Dkt. 9, it is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED as modified herein. It is further ORDERED that, pursuant to the parties' Settlement Agreement and Release, Commissioner Krepp shall not block Plaintiff Hecker from accessing her official Twitter account, @ANC6B10, or any other social media account she may use for official communication with her constituents on matters of public policy. The Court will retain jurisdiction to enforce that aspect of the parties' settlement. Finally, it is ORDERED that this case is dismissed. The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate the case. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 5/5/2021. (lcrdm3)

May 5, 2021 PACER

Order on Motion to Dismiss

May 5, 2021 PACER

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Speech and Religious Freedom

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 29, 2021

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

D.C. resident who was blocked by a public official on Twitter.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Representative for Single-Member District 6B10 (Washington, D.C., District of Columbia), City

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 2021 - None

Issues

General:

Website