University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Letten v. Hall PN-MI-0005
Docket / Court 2:10-cv-12182-AC-VMM ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization Michigan ACLU
Case Summary
On June 2, 2010, plaintiff, an animal rights activist, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Detroit in the United States Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division. The plaintiff, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) asked ... read more >
On June 2, 2010, plaintiff, an animal rights activist, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Detroit in the United States Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division. The plaintiff, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) asked the court for declaratory, injunctive, and compensatory damages for violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that a misdemeanor citation for leafleting outside a concert was a violation of his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

On July 31, 2009, Plaintiff, an animal rights activist, in conjunction with others, decided to distribute leaflets outside of the Warped Tour at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit. After successfully distributing literature for two hours, plaintiff was approached by a Detroit Police Officer, who informed him that he required a permit to distribute the leaflets. The plaintiff asked for the city ordinance that made it a crime to distribute without a license, but the officer would not provide one. The officer detained the plaintiff and issued the plaintiff a misdemeanor citation for distribution leaflets without a license.

Plaintiff argued that distributing noncommercial leaflets is not a crime, and furthermore constitutes protected speech under the First Amendment. He was charged with unlawfully distributing commercial leaflets and operation of a business on a public sidewalk. Plaintiff was required to pay a $500 bond.

On November 19, 2009, the charges were dismissed shortly after being filed, with prejudice. Plaintiff brought this action for compensatory, injunctive, and declaratory relief as a result of that experience.

On August 11, 2011, the Court (Judge Avern Cohn) entered an order of dismissal, noting that the parties had settled the case.

On December 6, 2011, plaintiff filed a Motion to Enforce the Settlement Agreement, Impose Sanctions, and Award Attorney's fees. The plaintiff alleged that after the case had settled in August, and the Order of Dismissal had been entered, the Defendant city refused to sign the Settlement Agreement and caused extraordinary delay.

On December 19, 2011, the City signed the Settlement Agreement, agreeing to compensate plaintiff (another similar case had been consolidated with the original plaintiff's) for injury, and pay attorney's fees in the amount of $20,000. The City also agreed to issue training directives on First Amendment rights, Retaliation, and Loitering, to be read to every shift every day for a week, and once a week for six months thereafter. It also agreed to alter its policy of allowing complaints regarding police conduct to be filed even when charges are pending against the complainant. Lastly, the City agreed to make available literature regarding the complaint process available on its website, in its precincts, and accompanying the complaint forms.

On March 14, 2012, the Court entered a stipulated order of voluntary dismissal with prejudice, closing the case. We have no further information about the City's compliance with the Settlement Agreement.

Blase Kearney - 05/30/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
General
False arrest
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Detroit
Plaintiff Description An animal rights activist who distributed literature outside a concert
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Michigan ACLU
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2011 - 2012
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PN-MI-0006 : Anderson v. Peoples (E.D. Mich.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:10-cv-12182-AC-VMM (E.D. Mich.) 03/14/2012
PN-MI-0005-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 06/02/2010
PN-MI-0005-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement, Impose Sanctions, and Award Attorney's Fees 12/06/2011
PN-MI-0005-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 12/19/2011
PN-MI-0005-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source:
Stipulated Order of Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice 03/14/2012 (E.D. Mich.)
PN-MI-0005-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cohn, Avern Levin (E.D. Mich.)
PN-MI-0005-0004 | PN-MI-0005-9000
Morgan, Virginia M. (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate]
PN-MI-0005-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan)
PN-MI-0005-0001 | PN-MI-0005-0002 | PN-MI-0005-0003 | PN-MI-0005-0004 | PN-MI-0005-9000
Moss, Kary L. (Michigan)
PN-MI-0005-0001 | PN-MI-0005-0003
Rossman, Jessie J. (Michigan)
PN-MI-0005-0001 | PN-MI-0005-9000
Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)
PN-MI-0005-0001 | PN-MI-0005-0003 | PN-MI-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Mills, Jane K. (Michigan)
PN-MI-0005-0002 | PN-MI-0005-9000
Schapka, John A. (Michigan)
PN-MI-0005-0004
Other Lawyers None on record

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