Chalking Tires By TCOs Unconstitutional?

T. E. McMorrow
Evelio Tualongo, a student at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead, has been chalking tires and writing tickets for the Town of East Hampton for the past three summers. The practice of drawing chalk lines on tires to determine which vehicles have stayed in a space too long, which is done in both the town and village, is facing a challenge from a prominent attorney.

Tired of running to your car to avoid getting a parking ticket in East Hampton? Jay Goldberg, a well-known Manhattan attorney with a Bridgehampton residence, is challenging a parking ticket issued by an East Hampton Village traffic control officer earlier this month. The ticket was issued after the TCO had chalked Goldberg’s vehicle’s tire, then returned and determined that the car had not been moved in the allotted amount of time. Goldberg’s challenge is based on a ruling by the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that found that chalking tires is an unreasonable warrantless search, prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

The suit that the court, which covers the states of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, ruled on was originally filed in the Federal Courthouse of the Eastern District of Michigan in 2017. That federal suit was brought by a woman named Alison Taylor against the City of Saginaw, Michigan, after she received multiple tickets from a TCO who was chalking her tires.

Initially, Taylor’s suit was dismissed with the presiding judge ruling that, while chalking a tire by a TCO to determine how long a vehicle remains in a parking space is a warrantless search, it is a reasonable one.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in April of this year, disagreed, writing that chalking by TCOs, with a pun probably intended, “Because we chalk this practice up to a regulatory exercise, rather than a community-caretaking function, we REVERSE,” with the last word in all caps. The case was reinstated, and remanded back to the Eastern District Court of Michigan.

The ticket was issued earlier this month. Rema Goldberg, Jay’s wife, said the couple had parked their 2019 Chevrolet in the handicapped spot (they have a handicapped sticker) in front of the movie theater in East Hampton Village on Main Street, and had gone in to watch “Rocket Man.” After the roughly two-hour long movie was over, they caught a quick bite to eat, and returned to their car, to find the ticket on their front window.

“Most people would just pay the ticket and get a little more sunburned,” Jay Goldberg said. “I’m going all the way with this case.”

Goldberg is the author of a new book, “The Courtroom is My Theater,” which he will be talking about at the East Hampton Library next month. Goldberg has represented numerous celebrities in court including the musicians Mick Jagger, Miles Davis, and Waylon Jennings. He also represented Donald Trump during the president’s divorces.

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