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.