Farwell man files lawsuit against deputy, sheriff

January 21, 2016

Joshua Allen Brennan MDOC photo from 2013

Joshua Allen Brennan
MDOC photo from 2013

By Pat Maurer

The Clare County Sheriff’s Department came under fire last week when a Farwell man filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court – Eastern District in Bay City against them alleging that his 4th Amendment rights were violated and he was wrongfully arrested last February by a Clare County Deputy, James Dawson.

The lawsuit claims that Deputy Dawson came to the Farwell home of Joshua Brennan on February 21 while he was on probation for misdemeanor charges to “check on him”; walked around the residence without permission or a warrant; repositioned and covered an exterior surveillance camera with police tape while he was there; that he activated the emergency lights and siren in his vehicle without cause; forced Brennan to take a Preliminary Breath Test not required by his probation order; and handcuffed and arrested Brennan on probation violation charges, all of which led to four days of incarceration in the Clare County Jail before the charges were dismissed by Clare County Magistrate Karen Willing in 80th District Court.

The lawsuit names Dawson, Sheriff John Wilson and the County as defendants – Dawson for the illegal arrest and Sheriff Wilson and the County for failure “to adequately train Defendant Dawson regarding the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution” in regards to “unlawful searches and seizures.”

Brennan is represented in the lawsuit by Attorney D. Todd Diederich PC, or his Law Offices in Harrison and Attorney Joshua A. Blanchard of Miel & Carr, PLC in Greenville.

Five counts of Fourth Amendment Violations are listed in the lawsuit request: “the right to be secure in his home from unreasonable searches and seizures in Count 1 for the trespass on the property and looking in the windows and in Count II for demanding the Preliminary Breath Test. Count III cites false imprisonment because Dawson detained Brennan without cause. Count IV alleges that Sheriff Wilson and Clare County as “Supervisory Defendants” “failed to adequately train Dawson regarding the Fourth Amendment, and count V alleges Prosecution without Probable Cause.

The lawsuit claims the “defendants deprived plaintiff (Brennan) of his liberty without due process of law, used excessive force…made an unreasonable search and seizure of property and person of plaintiff and deprived plaintiff of his property without due process of law, thereby depriving plaintiff of his rights privileges and immunities as guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.”

In detail, the lawsuit says Deputy Dawson went to Brennan’s residence at 2184 Oakridge Drive Farwell on February 21 to “check on” him because he was then on probation for a misdemeanor.

It claims he noticed surveillance cameras at the home and repositioned one to point at a wall and wrapped it in police tape to prevent it recording video. The suit alleges that when the Deputy received no response to “knocking” on the door he went around the house knocking on windows and, then went back to his patrol car and activated the emergency lights and siren. The suit said Dawson knocked on windows and doors again then went into the back yard where he called Brennan on the phone.
When Brennan finally came to the door he said he reported he had not responded because he was ill. He said Dawson “demanded” he submit to a Preliminary Breath Test although that test was not ordered as part of his probation requirements. He did submit to the test for alcohol with none showing, the suit said.

The lawsuit says Brennan was then handcuffed and arrested for “refusing to submit to a PBT, taken to the Clare County Jail and incarcerated there for four days until the charges were dismissed.

The suit asks for judgement “in whatever amount is fair, just, and equitable for the injuries and damages…together with interest, costs and attorney fees…” sustained by Brennan.

Brennan has a lengthy record with the Michigan Department of Corrections for sentences related to charges in Clare County.
He was arrested and arraigned for a November 19, 2005 Felony Firearms charge and was sentenced on a plea agreement to two years in prison on May 1, 2006. He served 18 months and was released on November19, 2007.

In the plea agreement, Brennan was also sentenced to five years of probation on May 11, 2006 for a November 19, 2005 charge of Weapon/Firearm – Discharge From a Vehicle.

In a September 22, 2008 plea agreement, He was sentenced to three years of probation in for the June 12, 2008 offense of Delivery/Manufacture of a Controlled Substance – Narcotic/Cocaine 50 grams. He was discharged June 10, 2010.

Following another plea agreement, On October 1, 2012 he was sentenced to two years of probation for the May 5 offense of Maintaining a Drug House and to two years for the January 4, 2012 offense of Attempted Receiving/Concealing Stolen Property valued at $1,000 to $20,000. His Probation Sentence was discharged for both on October 3, 2013.

Sheriff Wilson, who said Wednesday that he could not comment on the lawsuit, said he was not aware of why Brennan was on probation last February.

Deputy James Dawson

Deputy James Dawson

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One Response to Farwell man files lawsuit against deputy, sheriff

  1. Jennifer J Cooper Reply

    July 2, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Lol Clare county is so fucking funny

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