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Case Name Hecker v. Krepp FA-DC-0025
Docket / Court 1:21-cv-00839 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
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 ... read more >
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.

Jordan Schuler - 09/22/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
General
Website
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Representative for Single-Member District 6B10
Plaintiff Description D.C. resident who was blocked by a public official on Twitter.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2021 - n/a
Filed 03/29/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Fighting For The First Amendment Online
Gerstein Harrow LLP
Date: Mar. 29, 2021
By: James Harrow
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D.D.C.
05/05/2021
1:21-cv-00839-RDM
FA-DC-0025-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.D.C.
03/29/2021
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-DC-0025-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
04/27/2021
Settlement Agreement and Release [ECF# 9-1]
FA-DC-0025-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Moss, Randolph Daniel (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0025-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0025-0001 | FA-DC-0025-0002 | FA-DC-0025-9000
Harrow, Jason (California) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0025-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Amarillas, Fernando (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0025-0001
Racine, Karl A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0025-0001
Risher, Conrad Z. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-DC-0025-9000

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