U.S. v. Safehouse

UNITED STATES V. SAFEHOUSE

Safehouse is a public health approach to overdose prevention in Philadelphia. Safehouse’s proposed services include medically supervised consumption.

On February 2019, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania filed a civil lawsuit asking a federal court to declare that supervised consumption sites are illegal under 21 U.S.C. §856(a), a section of the Controlled Substances Act colloquially known as the “Crack House” Statute. The lawsuit does not seek money or to seize property or criminally prosecute any party.

On Oct. 2, 2019, a federal district court judge ruled that “the ultimate goal of Safehouse’s proposed operation is to reduce drug use, not facilitate it, and accordingly, §856(a) does not prohibit Safehouse’s proposed conduct.

On Feb. 25, 2020, the judge reinforced the legality of supervised injection in the eastern part of Pennsylvania. In June 2020, the judge ordered a pause on Safehouse’s opening, citing the Covid pandemic and police-reform protests. His opinion reinforced Safehouse’s public health arguments.

The U.S. Attorney appealed the ruling that Safehouse’s proposed activities are legal, and oral arguments were held before the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals on November 16, 2020. To hear a recording of the oral arguments, click here. Decisions from the 3rd Circuit cover all of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The pleadings in the case are below:

Opinion of the Court (1/12/21)

Transcript of 11/16/20 Oral Arguments

Reply Brief of Appellants (8/3/20)

Amici Filed in U.S. 3rd Circuit in Support and Opposition to Safehouse (5/21/20 – 7/6/20)

Brief of Appellees Safehouse and José Benitez (6/29/20)

Opinion Granting U.S. Emergency Motion for Stay (6/24/20)

U.S. Appeal from Order Granting Final Declaratory Judgment (5/15/20)

U.S. Reply in Support of Motion for Stay (3/27/20)

Safehouse Memorandum of Law Opposing Motion for Stay (3/10/20)

Amici in Support and Opposition to U.S. Emergency Motion for Stay (2/12/20 – 3/22/20)

U.S. Emergency Motion for Stay (2/27/20)

U.S. Notice of Appeal Filed in the 3rd Circuit (2/27/20)

Memorandum and Order for Final Declaratory Judgement (2/25/2020)

Response to US Motion for Summary Judgement (1/31/20)

United States’ Motion and Memorandum of Law In Support of Summary Judgment and Opposition to Safehouse’s Motion for Declaratory Judgment (1/17/20)

Motion for Final Declaratory Judgement (1/6/20)

Order and Memorandum Denying Government’s Motion for Judgement on the Pleadings (10/2/19)

Oral Argument, Audio (9/5/19)

Oral Argument, Transcript (9/5/19)

Evidentiary Hearing, Audio (8/19/19)

Order Scheduling Oral Argument (7/16/19)

Order Scheduling Evidentiary Hearing (7/12/19)

Amicus Briefs in support, in opposition, and in support of neither party (7/10/19)

  • On July 10, 13 amicus (friends of the court) briefs were filed in U.S. v. Safehouse in federal court in Philadelphia. 132 individuals and organizations, composed of 64 current and former prosecutors and law enforcement officials, 8 states, and 6 cities, filed 11 amicus briefs in support of Safehouse. 7 amici filed a brief in opposition and 4 law professors filed a brief in support of neither party.

Safehouse’s Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the Department of Justice’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (6/28/19)

Plaintiff’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (6/11/19)

Answer and Affirmative Defenses of Plaintiff/Counterclaim (6/10/19)

Stipulated Scheduling Order (5/28/19)

Safehouse’s Answer, Affirmative Defenses, Counterclaims to Plaintiff’s Complaint, and Third-party Complaint (4/3/19)

Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (2/5/19)

The United States’ Motion and Memorandum of Law In Support of Summary Judgment and Opposition to Safehouse’s Motion

Response to US Motion for Summary Judgement

Memorandum and Order for Final Declaratory Judgement