O Long Lake Township v. Todd Maxon

If this opinion indicates that it is “FOR PUBLICATION,” it is subject to revision until final publication in the Michigan Appeals Reports. STATE OF MICHIGAN COURT OF APPEALS LONG LAKE TOWNSHIP, FOR PUBLICATION September 15, 2022 Plaintiff-Appellee, 9:15 a.m. v No. 349230 Grand Traverse Circuit Court TODD MAXON and HEATHER MAXON, LC No. 18-034553-CE Defendants-Appellants. ON REMAND Before: JANSEN, P.J., GLEICHER, C.J., and RONAYNE KRAUSE, J. GLEICHER, C.J. This case is before us on remand from our Supreme Court. In the original action, Todd and Heather Maxon appealed a trial court order denying their motion to suppress aerial photographs taken by Long Lake Township using a drone without the Maxons’ permission, a warrant, or any other legal authorization. The township relied on these photos to support a civil action against the Maxons for violating a zoning ordinance, creating a nuisance, and breaching a previous settlement agreement. Long Lake Twp v Maxon, 336 Mich App 521, 524-525; 970 NW2d 893 (2021) (Long Lake I). This Court determined that the use of the drone violated the Fourth Amendment and reversed the trial court order denying the Maxons’ motion to suppress. Id. at 525, 542. The Supreme Court vacated our previous opinion and remanded to this Court “to address the additional issue of whether the exclusionary rule applies to this dispute.” Long Lake Twp v Maxon, ___ Mich ___; 973 NW2d 615 (2022) (Long Lake II). The exclusionary rule does not apply in this civil matter. Accordingly, even if the township violated the Maxons’ constitutional rights, suppression was not supported. We affirm the lower court’s order. I. BACKGROUND Todd and Heather Maxon own a five-acre parcel in Long Lake Township. In 2007, the township brought a zoning action against Todd Maxon arising from his storage of junk cars on the property. That case settled in 2008 with an agreement that no further zoning action would be -1- brought if Todd maintained the status quo—the same number of junked cars. See Long Lake I, 336 Mich App at 525. According to the township, neighboring property owners reported that the Maxons had expanded their junk yard. This allegation could not be confirmed from ground level because buildings and trees obstructed views of the landscape. The township hired Zero Gravity Aerial to take aerial photographs of the Maxons’ property with a drone in 2010, 2016, 2017, and 2018. The photographs allegedly show that the dimensions of the Maxons’ junkyard had swelled, contrary to the settlement agreement. The township filed a civil action against the Maxons seeking the abatement of the junkyard nuisance. Id. at 525-526. The Maxons moved to suppress the drone photos, invoking the Fourth Amendment. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the drone surveillance was not a search. Id. at 526-527. This Court granted the Maxons’ application for leave to appeal on a single issue—whether the trial court erred when it held that the warrantless search of the Maxons’ property with a drone did not violate their Fourth Amendment rights. Long Lake …

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