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Sixth Circuit Amends “Chalking” Decision to Clarify Scope

Earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit issued a decision addressing a constitutional challenge to the practice of “chalking” the tires of parked cars for parking enforcement purposes. As we noted, that decision garnered a lot of attention from the national media.

Yesterday, the Court issued an amended opinion clarifying the scope of its ruling. The amended opinion contains the following new paragraph in its conclusion:

Taking the allegations in Taylor’s complaint as true, we hold that chalking is a search under the Fourth Amendment, specifically under the Supreme Court’s decision in Jones. This does not mean, however, that chalking violates the Fourth Amendment. Rather, we hold, based on the pleading stage of this litigation, that two exceptions to the warrant requirement—the “community caretaking” exception and the motor-vehicle exception—do not apply here. Our holding extends no further than this. When the record in this case moves beyond the pleadings stage, the City is, of course, free to argue anew that one or both of those exceptions do apply, or that some other exception to the warrant requirement might apply.

While the Sixth Circuit has thus held that chalking constitutes a “search” under Jones, the amended opinion stops short of declaring that such “searches” will always be unreasonable (or never fall under an exception to the warrant requirement).

The amended opinion thus tees up a debate over the “reasonableness” of the search on remand. Long story short: Ms. Taylor has survived the motion-to-dismiss-stage, but she has not yet evaded the parking authorities.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

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About this Author

Scott Coyle, Senior Attorney, Squire Patton Boggs, Cincinnati, White Collar, Criminal Defense,Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Senior Attorney

Scott Coyle’s practice focuses on government investigations, white collar criminal defense and appellate litigation. He has successfully represented clients in high-profile criminal investigations and administrative proceedings and has extensive experience drafting briefs in state and federal appellate courts. He also advises clients on compliance with US trade sanctions programs and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Prior to joining us, Scott was a litigation associate with full-service law firms in Washington DC and San Francisco. He represented elected officials and...

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Lauren S. Kuley, Squire Patton Boggs, Labor Lawyer,
Associate

Prior to joining Squire Patton Boggs, Lauren was a law clerk to The Honorable Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

After clerking, Lauren served as the Simon Karas Fellow in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. In that position, she assisted the Ohio Solicitor General in representing the state on appeal, writing appellate briefs and evaluating possible appeals. She also argued before the Ohio Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, winning unanimous decisions for the state in both cases. 

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