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County settles Lowden lawsuit

Clare County has agreed to pay $122,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by Lewis Lowden and the late Jean Lowden after the couple were arrested in 2007 at the Harrison funeral of Cpl Todd Motley, who was killed in Iraq.

The couple was arrested because signs in their van criticized President George W. Bush. They were held in jail for 24 hours. The charges were eventually dropped.

They were arrested under a Michigan law banning funeral protests. U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington said in September that a “key part of the law was vague, broad and unconstitutional.” He said the Lowdens’ first amendment rights and fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure were violated.

The Michigan law was adopted because of members of a Kansas-based group that protests outside the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Lowdens, who were invited to the funeral, were close to the late soldier. Jean was his teacher while Lewis had fished and camped with Motley. The signs on their vehicle did not mention the military or Motley.

Reportedly the couple was “humiliated” by the arrests. Their van was pulled out of the funeral procession because, a deputy said, “The van was suspicious in nature.”

Clare County agreed to settle the lawsuit November 14. American Civil Liberties Union Attorney Dan Korobkin represented Lewis and the estate of Jean Lowden in the suit. Jean Lowden died in 2008.