Jay Carson Files Amicus Brief Urging Protection from the Charging of Excess Fines
On November 5, 2021, Jay Carson, on behalf of Wegman Client The Buckeye Institute filed an amicus brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The brief urges the Court to protect citizens from excessive fines in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
The issue arose when Andrew Stevens and Melanie Copenhaver filed suit in federal district court against the City of Columbus. The suit was in response to the city’s citation of Mr. Stevens and Ms. Copenhaver’s property which had been landscaped, but had not been approved by the city’s Historic Resources Commission. The city’s citation has a hefty price tag of between $100 and $1,000 per day. The suit challenged the excessive fines and the ordinance which allows for the city to determine acceptable landscaping. In July of 2020, the district court ruled against Stevens and Copenhaver denying their request for injunctive and declaratory relief. Thus, prompting Stevens and Copenhaver to appeal this decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The amicus brief urges the Court to reverse the district court’s ruling in favor of the City of Columbus. The brief describes why excessive fines not only don’t work and are in direct violation of the Eighth Amendment, but also how these types of fines are an intrusion of one’s privacy. “Although the right to be free of excessive fines is ancient, governments-whether through king or court or legislature – have often yielded to the temptation to abuse their power to levy fines . . . The guarantee against excessive fines has provided a check against governmental overreach for forty generations.”