Letter to the Editor: Court dismisses student parking citation with no policy action

BY JEREMY KEENEY

Published December 9, 2013

In October, a University of Michigan law student represented himself in court and successfully argued that the judge should dismiss his $25 parking citation. The city of Ann Arbor did not have the proper authority to ticket him. Unfortunately, you probably did not hear about this epic victory because the media didn't cover it and the judge didn’t issue a written opinion. Despite a judge ruling that parking on lawns and lawn extensions is not illegal, Ann Arbor still issues these parking citations.

On August 18, 2013, Law School student Jason Zolle, received a $25 parking citation for parking his car on his “lawn extension.” Jason parked on the seven-foot strip of grass next to the road on his side of the street — there was no sidewalk. The Ann Arbor ordinance states that “no person shall park a vehicle . . . (1) on a sidewalk; or, on that portion of the highway located between the property lines and the curb or curb line.” Naturally, it seems ridiculous that Jason’s lawn is a highway. Interestingly enough, the state of Michigan and the city of Ann Arbor actually have different definitions for a highway.

Two months later Jason appeared in court. Judge Christopher Easthope dismissed the parking ticket because the municipal ordinance justifying the citation was “void for vagueness as applied.” The judge stated that citizens should not need to guess at how ordinances will be applied. At the end of the day, Jason represented himself in court and successfully dismissed his $25 parking citation. Ann Arbor declined to appeal the decision.

Jeremy Keeney
Law student