Saginaw, MI (WNEM) – A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the city of Saginaw cannot chop tires without a warrant.
The ruling included an estimated 4,800 parking tickets in a class action lawsuit.
The case has been through the legal system for about five years. One of his lead attorneys, Phillip Ellison, told TV5 it was a historic case for the city of Saginaw.
“Our hometown was the first in the country to determine that chalking to a car tire was something that required a warrant for government officials to get those dollars in the form of parking tickets. It’s the place,” Ellison said.
Ellison explained how chalking tires in public places became a constitutional issue.
“The Fourth Amendment makes a clear distinction between what the government can and cannot do without a warrant,” Ellison said. “The government can’t enter your house, check your email, or open your letters. You can’t even track where you are and where you are.” Not done.
This problem has cropped up in other states, with a similar case in Bay City, where Ellison is also participating.
He said a decision here would send a clear signal elsewhere.
“Of course, in practice, we’re announcing it very loudly to other communities that are using chalk as the basis for parking enforcement, but we’re not going to tie the hands of the entire country,” Ellison said.
Judge Thomas Ludington ordered Saginaw to pay nominal damages of $1 per marking.
Each side has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
The City of Saginaw stopped chalking tires in 2019.
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