Saginaw asks full court to hear parking ticket case

Associated Press
The appeals court says marking tires qualifies as a search of property under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

Saginaw on Monday asked a federal appeals court to set aside a recent decision and reopen a dispute over whether marking tires to keep track of illegally parked cars violates the U.S. Constitution.

An attorney for the city called it a case of “exceptional importance.”

“Cities across the United States have ceased parking enforcement,” Gregory Mair said in a court filing. “The question as to whether chalking tires constitutes a Fourth Amendment violation has a significant impact on law enforcement and order in municipalities.”

In April, a three-judge panel at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said marking tires qualifies as a search of property under the Fourth Amendment and could be illegal without a warrant. The case was sent back to a federal judge in Michigan for more work.

But Saginaw now wants the full appeals court to vote to throw out the decision and rehear the case. Opinions from the 6th Circuit set law in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.

“Even assuming chalking a tire was a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, the search was reasonable. … The chalking process is limited in scope, necessary only to enforce” a two-hour parking limit, Mair said.

Philip Ellison, a lawyer for a woman who sued after receiving more than a dozen tickets in Saginaw, said it’s rare for the appeals court to set aside the work of one of its panels.

He recently filed similar lawsuits against the cities of Ann Arbor and Bay City.