Suit: Cops illegally seized car after $10 marijuana buy
The attorney for a Detroit woman has filed a federal lawsuit, alleging Wayne County sheriff's deputies illegally impounded her car after she was cited for buying $10 of marijuana — costing her $1,200 in fees and fines.
Barton Morris says his client, Crystal Sisson, was ticketed after buying a small amount of marijuana from an unlicensed dispensary in July.
Sisson's 2015 Kia Soul was impounded and she had to pay $1,200 to get her SUV back, according to the complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court.
Morris said deputies "abused" seizure and forfeiture laws that are intended to deter drug dealers, not personal marijuana users. "It's absolutely and completely unjust," he said.
"It's clearly excessive and not proportional to the crime for $10," Morris said.
Morris expressed concern that under Michigan's new recreational marijuana law, which took effect Thursday, more motorists could be pulled over, have their vehicles seized, and face hundreds of dollars in costs to get their cars back.
The Wayne County Sheriff's Office did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Sisson was not available Thursday for an interview.
The lawsuit names as defendants Wayne County, the sheriff's office, Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Deputy Cpl. Sheri Tanner and Deputy Lt. Theodis Sims.
Morris said his client did not have a marijuana card and that the dispensary where she bought the marijuana, Greenleaf Extended Care, 13125 West Chicago, was not licensed.
Morris said the sheriff's office knew the dispensary was not licensed, and deputies would wait nearby to ticket customers and impound their vehicles to generate revenue. .
Sisson has a misdemeanor case in the traffic stop pending in 36th District Court. Morris said that in 2012, the City of Detroit decriminalized the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana by adults over 21.
Morris said Sisson's vehicle should not have been seized because she was not buying marijuana as part of a criminal enterprise.
In his legal pleadings, Morris wrote: "The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides, in pertinent part, that excessive fines not be imposed nor cruel and unusual punishments be inflicted."
Morris called the seizure of Sisson's SUV "really reprehensible."