A meter maid, let’s call her Rita, chalks your car tire so that when she returns a couple of hours later, she will know whether you parked your car too long on a city street. On the face of it, the meter maid has violated your Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search because the poor woman chalked your tire.
That’s according to the Sixth Circuit. Taylor v. City of Saginaw, No. 17-2126 (6th Cir. Apr. 22, 2019) (in a case of first impression and with no precedent clearly on point, reversing Judge Thomas L. Ludington’s grant of a motion to dismiss issued pursuant Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim in a civil case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and remanding for further proceedings [code for a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56]).[i]
Because I don’t know the answers to the many profound questions that the Taylor opinion raises, I am asking the readers of Simple Justice to help me out.
Here are my questions:
- Will the Taylor opinion be considered the most idiotic federal appellate decision of the 21st century?
- If you were Judge Ludington, who got reversed, would you
(a) fire your law clerk;
(b) tell yourself you ain’t never gonna grant a 12(b)(6) motion again;
(c) hang your head in shame;
(d) get rip-roaring drunk and send the panel a photo of you mooning them;
(e) take out the reversal on the schmuck lawyers for the plaintiff who got you reversed on the theory that one’s car tire has a reasonable expectation of privacy;
(f) take out the reversal on the schmuck lawyers for the defense who failed to convince the Sixth Circuit that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to chalk;
(g) grant summary judgment on your own motion by taking judicial notice under Federal Rule of Evidence 201 of the adjudicative fact that Bibendum, commonly referred to in English as the Michelin Man, is not at all bothered by chalk; and/or
(h) go home and kiss the dog and beat your wife, husband, spouse, significant other or any prostitute you frequent?
Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska)
[i] For a deep dive into the legal stuff by Professor Orin Kerr, see here. However, sadly unaddressed by the Professor is the question of whether the meter maid has qualified immunity. I am very worried for the meter maid.