The Clinic’s motion argues that judgment should be granted in favor of Mrs. Prospero regarding the lack of arguable probable cause for her arrest and that she was prosecuted based on a constitutionally defective warrant affidavit.
The case arises from a 911 phone call that Mrs. Prospero made on Thanksgiving Day 2018, reporting gunshots near her home. In retaliation for Mrs. Prospero’s protected speech, Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Sullivan swore out an arrest warrant affidavit, falsely accusing her of intending to interfere with 911 telephone services. Mrs. Prospero was arrested in January 2019 and spent more than 36 hours detained in the Camden County Jail under health-harming and degrading conditions. Nine months later the district attorney’s office declined to prosecute and dismissed the charge.
In October 2020, the First Amendment Clinic filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Mrs. Prospero in federal district court in the Southern District of Georgia, asserting the violation of Mrs. Prospero’s First and Fourth Amendment rights.
In September 2021, the court granted the Clinic leave to file a second amended complaint adding a deliberate-indifference-in-hiring claim against Camden County Sheriff James Proctor for having brought Deputy Sullivan on board after he was terminated from the nearby Brunswick Police Department.
In March 2022, unpersuaded by the Camden County Sheriff Office’s motion to dismiss on qualified immunity grounds, the court wrote: “[T]he accusation here is that Plaintiff called 911 for the purpose of disrupting emergency service. But viewing the facts in her favor, she herself called 911 just one time, for a total of two and a half minutes, complaining about noisy gunfire and asking the police to make it stop. . . Drawing those inferences in her favor, any reasonable officer would have known these were material misstatements” that the Deputy Sheriff made in his warrant affidavit. The court allowed claims of malicious prosecution, First Amendment retaliation, and deliberate indifference in hiring to proceed through discovery.
On July 7, 2023, the University of Georgia’s First Amendment Clinic filed for partial summary judgment on behalf of Mrs. Emma Jane Prospero who was arrested in retaliation for exercising her free speech and petition rights by calling Camden County 911 to report gunshots near her home. The Clinic’s motion argues that judgment should be granted in favor of Mrs. Prospero regarding the lack of arguable probable cause for her arrest and that she was prosecuted based on a constitutionally defective warrant affidavit.
The following Clinic students and fellows have assisted in the representation of Mrs. Prospero under the supervision of Clinic Director Clare Norins:
Summer 2023 – Alex Cross and Anyamobi Ananaba
Spring 2023 – Joshua Dillard and Mia McKnight
Fall 2022 – Colton Carpenter, Hanna Esserman, and Maryam Shokry
Summer 2022 – Marlene Berroa Rodriguez and Kyle Steinberg
Spring 2022 – Ben Causey, Emma Courtney, and Matthew Hashemi
Fall 2021 – Jack Mahon, Paige Medley, Brianna Yates
Summer 2021 – Daniel Zimmer
Spring 2021 – Janay Alexander, Mark Bailey, Kirstiana Perryman
Fall 2020 – Janay Alexander and Wess Helton
Summer 2020 – Jeffrey Murphy
Fellows – Lindsey Floyd, Allyson Veile, Samantha Hamilton, and David Afahame