Court sends arrest and police harassment claim back to Eastern District for trial
Alan Miller was arrested in Sanilac County by Deputy Jim Wagester, after running through a stop sign on slippery roads. Miller, a high school-aged man, claimed that he was arrested without due cause for drunken-driving and that Wagester used excessive force in effecting the arrest. After the arrest, Miller's blood alcohol tested out at 0.00 and he was clean on a subsequent drug screen. The trial court had dismissed Miller's claim entirely, holding that Wagester had probable cause for the drunken-driving arrest, based on his claim of reckless driving, an odor of alcohol on Millers' breath, and Miller's failure on roadside sobriety tests. The Sixth Circuit rejected this holding. It ruled that the 0.00 blood alcohol test and other facts created a genuine issue of material fact with regard to the credibility of Wagester's justification for the arrest. It was error for the trial court to substitute its judgment for that of the jury on the ultimate issue of whether Wagester's arrest of Miller was a legitimate exercise of governmental authority.