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Indigenous American People Inhabiting County of Wayne v. Wayne County Municipal Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 18, 2019


          Honorable Laurie J. Michelson Judge



         Before the Court is a Motion for Ex Parte Emergency Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) Seeking Injunctive Relief, filed by the plaintiff in this matter, The Indigenous American People Inhabiting the County of Wayne, Michigan (the “Plaintiffs”) on September 3, 2019. (Doc. #2). This case has been referred to the undersigned for management, hearing, and determination of all pretrial matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), and for any reports and recommendations on dispositive matters that may be necessary pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (Doc. #7).

         I. REPORT

         A. Background

         On September 3, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed a “Petition” in this case, seeking “redress of grievances against Wayne County government elected officers[.]” ECF No. 1, PageID.1. The Petition names as Respondents Wayne County, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, former Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz, current Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree, and current Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett, accusing them of “Dereliction of Duty, Fraud, Collusion, Unjust Enrichment, Impersonation, Conspiracy, unlawful Civil Asset Forfeiture and Abuse of Power[.]” ECF No. 1, PageID.1-2.

         Although the Petition is extremely difficult to make sense of, the Plaintiffs appear to allege that the transition from Former Wayne County Treasurer Wojtowicz to Current Wayne County Treasurer Sabree violated Michigan state law and, as a result, the Plaintiffs were somehow prohibited “from exercising their right to possession, to challenge and possibly stop Wayne County Treasurer tax foreclosures and sales and to reverse any decisions to the contrary.” ECF No. 1, PageID.6. The Plaintiffs characterize Respondents' actions as “Theft By False Pretense, as it relates to the land and property of the Indigenous peoples, disguised as a lawful foreclosure process through illegal and unlawful evictions and auctions ….” ECF No. 1, PageID.5. More specifically, the Plaintiffs claim that Respondents “[w]rongfully deemed [their] land abandoned so they could backdoor the Fee Simple Absolute that [they] hold on [their] land” through the tax forfeiture and foreclosure process provided for under Michigan state law. ECF No. 1, PageID.7. In other words, the Plaintiffs assert that “[t]here is no contract in Place between any member of the Indigenous American Inhabitants of the County of Wayne to allow for the County of Wayne to deem the lands owned by ‘the People' abandoned” and, therefore, to foreclose against such properties. ECF No. 1, PageID.8.

         At the same time the Plaintiffs filed the Petition, they also filed a “Motion for Ex Parte Emergency Temporary Restraining Order Seeking Injunctive Relief.” ECF No. 2, PageID.65-131. In that motion, which is equally difficult to comprehend, the Plaintiffs assert that:

It is imperative for this Court to grant Injunctive relief on behalf of the Indigenous American people Inhabiting the County of Wayne in that they have unveiled the corruption of the County of Wayne's foreclosure process by and through its employees to continue to cause harm and to perform discriminative acts toward its inhabitants in violation of the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, HR 489, which states that Native People and descendants of Native People along with descendants of ex-slaves are the only peoples that are indigenous to this land called the United States.

         ECF No. 2, PageID.70. The Plaintiffs' motion for TRO, however, contains nothing more than disjointed references to various statutes, treatises, legal doctrines, and court decisions, along with perplexing references to “The Land Mandate.” ECF No. 2, PageID.6 -12. In conclusion, the Plaintiffs state:

We request and demand from this Court an injunction for Wayne County to cease and desist the auction scheduled for September 4, 2019. If our request is not granted wrongdoers will continue to deprive Indigenous people, the “The Heirs to the Vast Estate, ” of their right to their properties and land, they will continue to be disenfranchised and the Rights of Indigenous People will continue to be trampled upon. The sale must be halted.

         ECF No. 2, PageID.12. Although apparently requesting a TRO halting the foreclosure sale of a property, the Plaintiffs do not provide any further detail about the address, owner, or legal status of the property allegedly at issue.

         B. Applicable Legal Standards

         “Temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions are extraordinary remedies designed to preserve the relative positions of the parties until further proceedings on the merits can be held.” Koetje v. Norton, No. 13-12739, 2013 WL 8475802, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 23, 2013). Whether to grant such relief is a matter within the discretion of the district court. See Certified Restoration Dry Cleaning Network, L.L.C. v. Tenke Corp., 511 F.3d 535, 540 (6th Cir. 2007). The same factors are considered in determining whether to grant a request for a TRO or a preliminary injunction. See Ohio Republican Party v. Brunner, 543 F.3d 357, 361 (6th Cir. 2008). Those factors are: (1) whether the movant has a strong likelihood of success on the merits; (2) whether the movant will suffer irreparable harm without the injunction; (3) whether issuance of the injunction will cause substantial harm to others; and (4) whether the public interest is served by issuance of the injunction. Id. (citing Ne. Ohio Coal. for the Homeless v. Blackwell, 467 F.3d 999, 1009 (6th ...

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