Lawsuit: CHP Unconstitutionally Targeted Men at I-280 Rest Stops

The commuter parked at his usual rest stop on the east side of I-280, which marked the halfway point between his home in San Jose and office in San Francisco.

It was 6:15am on Oct. 24, 2018, and several other cars were parked alongside his own.

A few minutes after the man left his car to stretch his legs and check emails on his phone, CHP Officer Brian Barckley pulled up and began ticketing vehicles parked in the pullout. According to the San Jose commuter, all the vehicles were driven by single men, making Barckley’s enforcement discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The San Jose man alleges as much in a lawsuit filed this past week in federal court.

In a complaint penned by LGBTQ-civil rights attorney Bruce Nickerson, the plaintiff—whose identity is withheld in the clam—says CHP targeted him for parking in the area before sunrise because of its perceived reputation as a gay cruising spot.

“When defendant Officer Barckely ticketed plaintiff for parking after dark at a rest area that the legislature had determined to be a place for resting, he made a false arrest because the ordinance prohibiting after dark parking was unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the California Constitution,” Nickerson writes in the claim.

The arrests were discriminatory because no women or drivers with families were targeted, Nickerson argues.

The ticketed driver fought the traffic violation on those grounds, prompting the court to dismiss the violation last fall. Now, he’s seeking class action status on behalf of anyone targeted by such enforcement since 1996, when the state passed an ordinance prohibiting parking at the rest stop between dusk and dawn.

The suit names Barckely as the ticketing officer and Sgt. Paul McCarthy as the supervisor of the CHP’s Redwood City division.

A CHP spokesman declined to respond to the suit, saying the agency has a policy prohibiting comment on pending litigation.

Nickerson is a storied civil rights attorney who has for decades represented men against discriminatory enforcement by police who single out people perceived to be gay.

In 2016, the San Carlos-based lawyer filed a lawsuit against the San Jose Police Department after a judge dismissed criminal charges against men accused of soliciting sex at a Columbus Park bathroom, right off of Taylor Street.

Last month, as first reported by the Mercury News, Nickerson filed a lawsuit that accused SJPD of profiling a trans woman as a sex worker.

The plaintiff—identified in the claim as a 63-year-old attorney named Roxanne—said San Jose police regularly subjected her to harassment even before falsely arresting her on July 9, 2019, when she was trying to walk to her downtown home.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

6 Comments

  1. > Lawsuit: CHP Unconstitutionally Targeted Men at I-280 Rest Stops

    This is an interesting legal theory.

    Now ANY male arrested for ANYTHING can claim to be unconstitutionally targeted because he may have LOOKED LIKE a gay male.

    Women are not going to like this. They are going to be come the default criminal class.

    All the TV crime shows will now have to have female perps. Male perps would be stereotyping.

  2. — “A few minutes after the man left his car to stretch his legs and check emails on his phone, CHP Officer Brian Barckley pulled up and began ticketing vehicles parked in the pullout. According to the San Jose commuter, all the vehicles were driven by single men, making Barckley’s enforcement discriminatory and unconstitutional.”

    Does a parked car have a gender, or constitutionally recognized identity? The complainant was not in the car, though it is presumed from the lawsuit he belongs to a protected class (Lavatorius Erectus), so does the legal theory here require the court take judicial notice of CHP officers’ extrasensory perception?

    The defamed attorney best hope for an Obama-appointed judge.

  3. really? you think Obama appoints the judges that would hear a case like this?
    better learn some basic civics

  4. @TYLER HOA,
    As a matter of fact I do believe such a case could end-up in front of a federal judge, via something called the appellate process (where a great many inventive interpretations of civil rights are heard). But, of course, my last line was largely for snide effect, not expected to be leaped upon by someone so desperate to criticize as you (whom, I assume, has no interest, opinion, or insight into the two questions contained in my comment).
    As for your recommendation I learn some basic civics, it was, of course, made without the evidence necessary for it to be taken seriously. Or did you think it was? Is your understanding of the reasoning process that faulty? If so, perhaps you are due a hefty refund of your tuition.

  5. Nickerson’s served jail time for aiding a child molester’s escape. His law license has been suspended twice per the public record.

    I’m gay, annoyed by the conduct at the 280 rest stop, Guadalupe park toilets, etc., and avoid them. There are (at least were before COVID) ample, lawful, and discrete ways to meet.

    Yes, it is a gender issue. So is rape. Lesbians aren’t soliciting women or having sexual encounters in restroom stalls.

    However, a dusk-to dawn ban is idiotic. Caltrans could barricade the entrance if they wanted to during those hours. Virtually no other means to eliminate in the hour-long drive from the southbay on NB 280 or to relieve fatigue. Few other options for long haul truck drivers as well.

    One is forced to park to grab a coke at the vending machine, walk off fatigue, or consult the map. Been years since I was there and assume they’re still present. So yeah, it seems like an opportunity for a BS CHP citation. Just wish Nickerson and his clients weren’t so slimy.

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