Michigan Petition Circulator Charged With 2nd Offense as Jury Trial Is Postponed

By Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac
Reporter
Steven Kovac is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Michigan. He is a former small businessman, local elected official, and conservative political activist. He is an ordained minister of the Gospel. Steven and his wife of 32 years have two grown daughters.
July 24, 2021 Updated: July 27, 2021

ALLEGAN, Mich.—Political activist and attorney Katherine Henry went to court on July 21 prepared to begin jury selection for her own trial over a single charge of trespassing on the property of an area township hall. The misdemeanor charge arose from an incident on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020, in front of a polling place in Allegan County’s Leighton Township.

Henry was at the polling place as part of a team from Michigan’s Restore Freedom Initiative citizens’ organization collecting signatures for a statewide petition she had authored to amend five articles and 19 sections of the Michigan Constitution. The purpose of the petition was to rein in government power, such as the ability to force people to be vaccinated.

When Henry and the other circulators were asked to leave the township office’s large parking lot, Henry refused, demanding to know the reason.

The ensuing events that led to Henry’s arrest were recorded and later posted on YouTube.

In the video, Township Clerk Mary Lou Nieuwenhuis is shown coming out of the hall to explain that a township resolution mandated that no vehicle could be in the public parking lot longer than it took for the person to accomplish their business inside the hall.

Henry pointed out in the video that a resolution isn’t legally enforceable; that she and the other circulators were well outside the 100 feet radius from the polling place door as required by Michigan law; and insisted that it was their constitutional right to be there circulating petitions.

Nieuwenhuis has since retired and couldn’t be reached by The Epoch Times for comment, and the township office was closed and its voice mailbox was full.

During the Nov. 3, 2020, incident, the video shows a deputy from the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, soon assisted by two others, asking Henry to remove her car from the premises. Henry refused, contending that the same resolution the clerk and deputy were citing specifically exempts people circulating petitions.

After repeated requests by the deputy for Henry and the circulators to leave, and following the deputy’s consultation with the prosecutor’s office, Henry was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a police car.

“I didn’t violate any laws. They were making it up as they went along. They had no authority to injure me and arrest me,” Henry told The Epoch Times the day before her trial was scheduled to begin.

Henry was first arraigned for the alleged Nov. 3, 2020, trespassing charge on Jan. 11. She wasn’t charged with disturbing the peace until July 20, the day before her trial was to begin.

Henry believes she was unconstitutionally arrested in an abusive process of malicious prosecution, and that adding the second charge at the eleventh hour was a display of “sheer arrogance.”

The Epoch Times attempted to ask Allegan County Prosecutor Myrene K. Koch to explain her reasoning in charging Henry, and to explain the long interval of time between Henry’s two arraignments, but Koch didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Both charges are misdemeanors in Michigan. A trespassing conviction carries a penalty of a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail. A conviction for disturbing the peace carries a penalty of up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500, or both.

Henry’s jury trial on the two charges is tentatively scheduled for October in the 57th District Court in Allegan County, with Judge William A. Baillargeon presiding.

Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac
Reporter
Steven Kovac is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Michigan. He is a former small businessman, local elected official, and conservative political activist. He is an ordained minister of the Gospel. Steven and his wife of 32 years have two grown daughters.