A Michigan man is seeking damages after court officers physically assaulted and choked him to the point of defecation for trying to pay a $10 traffic fine with pennies.
Sevy had gone to Royal Oak’s 44th District Court in February to pay his parking fine with his credit card, but the $10 fine would have cost him a $1.75 transaction fee.
So, he got a bag of $10 worth of pennies and submitted them to the clerk. But the clerk turned down the money. When he asked why they refused to allow him to pay in pennies, the clerk verbally abused Sevy. An officer then intervened, instructing him to leave the premises.
According to U.S. Law Code 31.5103, “United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.” Those in government who refuse to take legal tender such as these pennies are not acting lawfully.
Nevertheless, when Sevy began to leave, he was attacked from behind, slammed violently against the wall and on the ground, and choked to the point he defecated himself. But his ordeal didn’t end. He was handcuffed, taken to a holding cell and charged with assaulting or obstructing a police officer and disturbing the peace.
Though he suffered head trauma, fright and shock from the experience as well as embarrassment from the public defecation, Sevy pleaded no contest to the disturbing the peace charge and the assault charge was later dropped.
The federal lawsuit says Sevy accepted the charges “out of fear and threat from the court system” and avoiding a felony— assaulting a police officer— on his record.
Sevy’s attorney, Jonathan Marko, elaborated:
“He wasn’t happy about [the fee] so, in symbolic protest, he brought back penny rolls to pay for his ticket. The clerk wasn’t too happy about that, they refused to allow him to pay with penny rolls. As he was leaving the courthouse with his back to the officer, the court officer began to choke him out, grabbing him, brought him to the ground. Mr. Sevy passed out and defecated himself.
“I don’t think anyone paying in penny rolls, whether it’s a preferred thing to do for a court clerk, warrants this type of this assaultive behavior and violation of constitutional rights. I think the more profound and long-lasting injury is the psychological injuries he’s suffering as a result of this. He’s supposed to be in a safe place. I don’t think that in everyday course of business, we poop our pants or go around defecating ourselves.”
Royal Oaks, reports The Free Thought Project, are notorious for their predatory revenue collection schemes in regards to parking fees and fines. They issue roughly 100,000 tickets every year, raking in millions of dollars [about $2.15 million in revenue per year].