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Case Name Speet v. Schuette FA-MI-0004
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-00972-RJJ ( W.D. Mich. )
Additional Docket(s) 12-02213  [ 12-2213 ]  Federal Court of Appeals
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Michigan
Case Summary
A homeless resident and a veteran with disabilities, who had both been arrested and prosecuted under a Michigan anti-begging statute, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, against the City of Grand Rapids and its police department on Sept. 13, 2011. The ... read more >
A homeless resident and a veteran with disabilities, who had both been arrested and prosecuted under a Michigan anti-begging statute, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, against the City of Grand Rapids and its police department on Sept. 13, 2011. The law that the plaintiffs were arrested under criminalized all begging in public places. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU, challenged the constitutionality of the statute, both on its face and as applied, and sought declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief. The plaintiffs alleged that the enforcement of the statute violated their rights under the First Amendment, Equal Protection Clause, and Due Process Clause. They further alleged that the defendants failed to train, supervise, and discipline their personnel and officers to act in accordance with the Constitution.

On Aug. 24, 2012, District Judge Robert J. Jonker granted partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs. Speet v. Schuette, 889 F. Supp. 2d 969 (W.D. Mich. 2012). The court found that the statute, on its face, violated the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held that the statute was a content-based restriction on protected speech in a public forum, and that it caused disparate treatment. The court found that the defendants failed to demonstrate that the statute was narrowly tailored to its purported purpose of preventing fraudulent or dishonest panhandling. The statute was therefore held unconstitutional.

The defendants appealed the decision, and on Aug. 14, 2013, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court (726 F.3d 867), holding that soliciting alms was protected under the First Amendment and that the Michigan statute was unconstitutional.

In 2013, following the appeal, the ACLU reached settlement agreements with the State of Michigan and the City of Grand Rapids regarding damages and attorney's fees. The City of Grand Rapids approved a $48,000 settlement on October 8, 2013. The terms of the settlement agreements were not otherwise made public and the case closed shortly after.

The ACLU subsequently identified approximately 80 local ordinances in Michigan similar to the state law held unconstitutional by the Sixth Circuit, and sent letters to the municipalities requesting changes to the ordinances. This effort led to an additional suit, Cuthrell v. Charter Township of Waterford, which also settled after the township revised its statute.

Emma Bao - 06/24/2013
Elizabeth Greiter - 03/22/2018
Nathaniel Flack - 10/12/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Pattern or Practice
Poverty/homelessness
Sidewalks
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Non-court arbitration/mediation
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Grand Rapids
Plaintiff Description Two people, a homeless resident and a veteran with disabilities, arrested and prosecuted under the state anti-begging statute.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Michigan
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2012 - n/a
Filing Year 2011
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:11-cv-972 (W.D. Mich.)
FA-MI-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/23/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Press Release
FA-MI-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/16/2011
Source: ACLU
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-MI-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/13/2011
Source: ACLU
Opinion and Order [Granting Partial Summary Judgment in favor of Plaintiffs] [ECF# 25] (889 F.Supp.2d 969) (W.D. Mich.)
FA-MI-0004-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/24/2012
Source: ACLU
Stipulation and Proposed Order re Entry of Final Judgment on First and Third Counts of Complaint under Rule 54(B) and Entry of Permanent Injunction Barring Enforcement of M.C.L. § 750.167(1)(h) [ECF# 26]
FA-MI-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/10/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order re Entry of Final Judgment on First and Third Counts of Complaint under Rule 54(B) and Entry of Permanent Injunction Barring Enforcement of M.C.L. § 750.167(1)(h) [ECF# 27] (W.D. Mich.)
FA-MI-0004-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/13/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [USCA 6th Circuit] [Ct. of App. ECF# 29] (726 F.3d 867)
FA-MI-0004-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/14/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Adams, John R. (N.D. Ohio)
FA-MI-0004-0006
Jonker, Robert James (W.D. Mich.)
FA-MI-0004-0001 | FA-MI-0004-0005 | FA-MI-0004-9000
Martin, Boyce Ficklen Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
FA-MI-0004-0006
Sutton, Jeffrey S. (Sixth Circuit)
FA-MI-0004-0006
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aukerman, Miriam (Michigan)
FA-MI-0004-0003 | FA-MI-0004-0004 | FA-MI-0004-9000
Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan)
FA-MI-0004-0003 | FA-MI-0004-0004 | FA-MI-0004-9000
Moss, Kary L. (Michigan)
FA-MI-0004-0003 | FA-MI-0004-0004
Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)
FA-MI-0004-0003 | FA-MI-0004-0004 | FA-MI-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bloemers, Margaret P (Michigan)
FA-MI-0004-0004 | FA-MI-0004-9000
Sherman, Ann (Michigan)
FA-MI-0004-0004 | FA-MI-0004-9000

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