Ex-House Speaker Chatfield's brother challenges search warrant issued for his home: court records

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Michigan State Police obtained a warrant to search the home and cellphone of former House Speaker Lee Chatfield's brother, Aaron, according to a court filing obtained by The Detroit News.

The document, which would normally be secret, was made public because Aaron Chatfield is asking an Ingham County Circuit Court judge to quash the search warrant, which he and his lawyers contend was unconstitutional.

According to the court filing, police planned to search his Lansing apartment and seize his iPhone and "all contents therein." The filing reveals that state police troopers have now searched at least two properties related to an ongoing investigation involving Lee Chatfield, who left office at the end of 2020.

On Tuesday, they searched the Bath Township home of his former top staffers, Rob and Anne Minard.

Michigan State Police employees work at the home of Rob and Anne Minard, two staffers of former state House Speaker Lee Chatfield on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

In January, Lee Chatfield's 26-year-old sister-in-law, Rebekah Chatfield, who's Aaron's wife, accused the former speaker of sexually abusing her beginning when she was 15 years old. The woman's attorney, Jamie White, said there were also unspecified financial allegations involving Lee Chatfield.

Lee Chatfield, through his attorney, has denied wrongdoing. Lee Chatfield and Aaron Chatfield haven’t been charged in the ongoing investigation.

In their Friday court filing, Michael Nichols and Wendy Schiller-Nichols, Aaron Chatfield's attorneys, said Aaron Chatfield had "been dragged into the media because of public reports regarding members of his family."

"The search warrant requested by the Michigan State Police and issued by the 54A District Court magistrate amounts to a state-sanctioned fishing expedition into the personal and intimate matters of the Chatfield family without any mention of the possible criminal conduct being investigated," the attorneys wrote.

They added that the search warrant was improperly "silent as to any criminal activity for which Mr. Chatfield (referring to Aaron Chatfield) or any other person is being investigated."

District Court Magistrate Laura Millmore authorized the search warrant on Feb. 9, according to the court filing. The warrant was executed that day as well, the filing said.

"Allowing the search warrant to stand would result in immediate and irreparable harm to Mr. Chatfield, his family and their constitutional rights," the attorneys contended.

When the search warrant was executed, Aaron Chatfield was "coerced into providing his passcode for the iPhone under the color of the authority by MSP officers," the court filing added.

The attorneys are asking Circuit Court Judge Wanda Stokes to quash the warrant and award attorney fees to Aaron Chatfield. A hearing will take place Friday, according to court records.

The Michigan State Police started a probe into Lee Chatfield after the allegations were made by Rebekah Chatfield, and Attorney General Dana Nessel's office confirmed on Jan. 31 that it was "assisting" in the investigation.

Rob Minard, whose home was searched Tuesday, was Lee Chatfield's chief of staff while he was speaker of the House in 2019 and 2020. His wife, Anne Minard, was Chatfield's director of external affairs.

Rob and Anne Minard haven’t been charged in the ongoing investigation.

Asked for a comment Wednesday about their court filing, lawyer Michael Nichols responded, "We're just doin' our job."


Staff Writer Beth LeBlanc contributed.