In April 2020, inside a local, Ottawa County, MI sandwich shop, my client expressed his opinion regarding the Governor's COVID orders .... and was charged with "disturbing the peace," a misdemeanor under MCL 750.170. We moved to dismiss the charge on 1st Amendment grounds arguing that the statute was unconstitutionally applied against my client in a manner that unconstitutionally punished his 1st Amendment rights of free speech and expression in a public place.
In its opinion regarding our motion to dismiss, the Court denied our motion, but limited the prosecution to only presenting evidence of his "threatening" conduct (of which the State's witness had already testified in an evidentiary hearing Mr. Steffes did not threaten her).
The prosecution continued its case against my client despite the court's opinion and order.
We then moved to limit the prosecution from using any expressive, non-violent words during trial, arguing, again, that any testimony discussing his non-violent expressive conduct necessarily required testimony about what he was communicating by means of his expressive conduct. This was based upon the Court's prior order and the testimony of the State's witness that she had not been threatened by Mr. Steffes (she did testify that she felt threatened by the content of his speech, but the Court ordered that this was protected speech and could not be used against him in the prosecution's case).
Today we were back in Court to argue the motion. Prior to the commencement of arguments, the Prosecution admitted that due to the Court's order it "could not proceed" and therefore dismissed the case.
This is a HUGE win for proponents of First Amendment civil rights, but, once again, the "forgotten man" suffers under the financial strain of protecting that interest. We are asking once again (and thanking you in advance) for any assistance to help cover his attorney fee costs.