Jimenez v. County of San Bernardino is a lawsuit against the County of San Bernardino for violating the free speech rights of Efren Montiel Jimenez, a local artist. County officials removed two paintings by Mr. Jimenez and one by another artist from a Hispanic National Heritage Art Exhibit displayed in the County of San Bernardino Government Center simply because some viewers had complained about the paintings.

Shortly after the exhibit opened on September 16, 2013, county officials demanded three paintings, two by Mr. Jimenez and one by artist Armando Aleman, be removed. Two of the paintings portray nude figures of women and one depicts the nude backside of a person worshipping the sun.

In a settlement reached on December 13, 2013, the county agreed to display Mr. Jimenez's works as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month Art Exhibit.

County officials have commemorated Hispanic Heritage Month since 2009. The commemoration includes inviting local artists to exhibit their work at the Government Center, which is a designated public forum for the duration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The displays are hosted by the San Bernardino County Hispanic Employees Alliance and the Inland Empire Latino Art Association. The invitation to artists does not detail criteria, requirements or restrictions on art submissions regarding the content of artwork in the Hispanic Heritage Month Art Exhibit. Furthermore, the county has never pre-screened pieces for the exhibit.

Case Developments

UPDATE
December 13, 2013
Reaching a settlement with Mr. Jimenez, the County of San Bernardino agreed to display Mr. Jimenez’s paintings as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month Art Exhibit until January 17, 2014. Download the settlement (.pdf).

FILING
November 22, 2013
ACLU SoCal filed a lawsuit against the County of San Bernardino for violating the free speech rights of artist Efren Montiel Jimenez. Download the complaint (.pdf).

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Jenner & Block LLP

Date filed

November 21, 2013

Court

United States District Court for the Central District of California - Eastern Division

Case number

CV1302163

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