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Case Name Parsons v. U.S. Department of Justice CJ-MI-0006
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-10071 ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Michigan
Case Summary
Represented by the ACLU of Michigan and by private counsel, six "Juggalos" filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, on Jan. 8, 2014. "Juggalo" is a word used by fans of the Insane Clown Posse, a rap duo, to describe themselves. The complaint alleged that ... read more >
Represented by the ACLU of Michigan and by private counsel, six "Juggalos" filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, on Jan. 8, 2014. "Juggalo" is a word used by fans of the Insane Clown Posse, a rap duo, to describe themselves. The complaint alleged that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had conducted a "threat assessment" in 2011 that classified Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang," a designation, the complaint said, that caused the plaintiffs various types of harm, especially extra police attention. This, they alleged, violated the First Amendment, the Due Process Clause, and the Administrative Procedures Act.

The case was assigned to District Judge Robert Cleland, and on June 30, 2014, Judge Cleland dismissed it, finding that the plaintiffs' alleged injuries were not sufficiently certain or precise to allow them standing to sue. Parsons v. U.S. Department of Justice, 30 F.Supp.3d 648 (E.D. Mich. 2014). The plaintiffs appealed and won; on Sept. 17, 2015, Judge Sargus (sitting by designation) wrote a unanimous opinion for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, finding that the plaintiffs did have standing to sue. The Court of Appeals did not rule on the merits, however, instead remanding the matter for the district court to address whether the FBI's alleged conduct violated the plaintiffs' rights. Parsons v. U.S. Department of Justice, 2015 WL 5446909, ___ F.3d ___ (6th Circ. 2015).

The defendants moved to dismiss the case on Jan. 29, 2016, which the court granted on Sept. 29, 2016 on several grounds. The court argued that the harms the plaintiffs claim to have suffered were due to activities of third parties - like the local police and sheriff departments - and not the defendants. These harms were therefore not legal consequences and so the do not qualify for judicial review under the APA. Further, the court argued that the defendants' actions were the result of legally mandated agency discretion and therefore not subject to APA review. Separately, the court did not find merit in the plaintiffs' claim that their classification violated the due process requirement to avoid vagueness as the classification did not require anything of the plaintiffs. The court entered judgment in favor of the defendants the same day.

The plaintiffs filed notice of appeal on Oct. 13.

The matter is ongoing in the Sixth Circuit, where oral arguments are scheduled for Oct. 11, 2017.

Margo Schlanger - 09/20/2015
Virginia Weeks - 10/09/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs self-identify as “Juggalos,” or fans of the musical group Insane Clown Posse (“ICP”) and other bands on ICP’s independent record label.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Michigan
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Philadelphia Forfeiture
http://ij.org/case/philadelphia-forfeiture/
By: Institute for Justice (Institute for Justice)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
2:14-cv-10071 (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0006-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/17/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-MI-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/08/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 29] (30 F.Supp.3d 648) (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0006-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/30/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Reversing Dismissal] [Ct. of App. ECF# 33] (801 F.3d 701)
CJ-MI-0006-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/17/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cleland, Robert Hardy (E.D. Mich.)
CJ-MI-0006-0003 | CJ-MI-0006-9001
Sargus, Edmund A. Jr. (S.D. Ohio)
CJ-MI-0006-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boufides, James D. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0006-9001
Haddad, Farris F. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0006-0001
Hertz, Howard (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0006-0001 | CJ-MI-0006-9001
Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0006-0001 | CJ-MI-0006-9001
Moss, Kary L. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0006-0001
Palacios, Emily C. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0006-9001
Sahu, Saura James (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0006-0001 | CJ-MI-0006-9001
Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0006-0001 | CJ-MI-0006-9001
Thomson, Elizabeth C. (Michigan)
CJ-MI-0006-0001 | CJ-MI-0006-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Powell, Amy E. (District of Columbia)
CJ-MI-0006-9001

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