Fourth Amendment violation case is at a standstill to pursue appeals

ALPENA — Michael and Susan Mockeridge’s lawsuit against their neighbor and three government officials for searching their property without a warrant, thus violating their Fourth Amendment rights, is currently at a standstill as the government officials pursue an appeal to the court’s decision that they didn’t have qualified immunity.

On Sept. 29, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan determined that the Fourth Amendment rights of the Mockeridges were violated by the actions of some of the defendants and that they were owed some kind of remedy.

In response, on Oct. 18, Harry Harvey, Ken Gibson, and David Schmidt — who were the Alcona County Building Department official, Caledonia Township zoning officer, and District Health Department No. 2 Environmental Health Program Coordinator, respectively, back in 2021 when the incident that triggered this litigation at the time — filed a notice of appeal in the 6th Circuit Court, specifically the court’s rejection of the claim their trespassing on the Mockridges’ property should be protected under qualified immunity.

In addition, Harvey, Gibson, and Schmidt on Nov. 6, filed a motion to stay, arguing that the case should not continue to move forward until after their appeal is determined. On Feb. 7, the court granted that motion, meaning the case can not proceed to the remedy stage until the appeals are concluded. This halt of proceedings also applies to the Mockeridges’ neighbor, Keith Krentz even though he doesn’t qualify for the qualified immunity due to not being a government official.

According to the court’s opinion filed on Sept. 9, Krentz, Harvey, Gibson, and Schmidt visited five recreational mini-cabins located on 40 acres of property owned by the Mockeridges south of Hubbard Lake in June 2021.

The unannounced inspection of the property came after several anonymous complaints about the cabins. The Mockeridges claim they were falsely made as a result of Krentz’s connections. The officials never sought permission to enter the property and the government officials never attempted to obtain warrants prior to the search, according to the ruling.

Harvey and Schmidt argued that they couldn’t possibly know that the mini-cabins would qualify as places protected by the Fourth Amendment.

The court’s opinion rebuts that argument, stating that the men were aware that people sleep in mini-cabins, and, thus, they probably should have assumed they would be protected by the Fourth Amendment.


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