Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman told Sgt. Jason Galloway of the Amherst, Nova Scotia Police Department on Jan. 22 that he would not serve court documents to local resident Elida (Lotty) Meeks and …
Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman told Sgt. Jason Galloway of the Amherst, Nova Scotia Police Department on Jan. 22 that he would not serve court documents to local resident Elida (Lotty) Meeks and stepdaughter Robyn Masters for “failure to quarantine or self-isolate” during their December 2020 commercial delivery to that country.
Meeks and Masters hold a commercial license to transport rescue animals across the border to their new adopter families. The two are affiliated with a Canadian rescue group called Relinquished Souls Animal Rescue Society.
While Heitman was unaware of the circumstances behind the paperwork he refused to serve, he did reach out to Meeks and her stepdaughter for further information.
“The people living in our county were aware of the tickets and already had a legal council,” Heitman said on Monday, after speaking with Meeks on Friday. “(The Amherst police) were trying to add the minor child to the case.”
Heitman said he asked Meeks what the purpose of the ticket was.
“She said ‘they rescue animals and had all the permits and weren’t supposed to have to quarantine,’” Heitman said. “Then ‘the mayor of the town ordered the tickets written and said to let the courts sort it out.’”
The license is the same as what a commercial truck driver would have — she crosses the border, drops off her product (the animals), and returns home. That type of license does not require commercial drivers to quarantine.
Heitman received paperwork from the Nova Scotia police on Jan. 20 instructing him to serve the parent (Meeks) of the minor child, and for Meeks and Masters to attend a court date in that county in February. Heitman refused to serve the paperwork on grounds that it is unconstitutional in the United States for him to do so.
“Not only is it not appropriate for me to serve for a foreign country — I wouldn’t serve it for the United States or another county in our state,” Heitman said. “Anything that is in violation of our constitution should not be upheld or enforced by any sheriff of the United States.”
Heitman explained in his refusal letter to Galloway that these charges that may be criminal in Canada are a clear violation of the United States Constitution.
“The federal, state or local government does not have the authority to force people who are not sick to quarantine,” Heitman said.
According to Heitman and Meeks, the rescue group crossed the border legally to drop off 20 animals. They were not sick, were not showing signs of COVID-19, nor had they been in contact with anyone who had been sick. Furthermore, neither Meeks nor Masters were in the country to shop or visit. They made their delivery and returned home.
Heitman posted the situation on his Office of Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman Facebook page, where several local citizens questioned why the local residents couldn’t be extradited.
Heitman said if the Nova Scotia police had sought extradition for the case, they should have contacted the State Department, not his office.
“They would have to get a hold of the State Department if they wanted to make an arrest,” he clarified. “If the paperwork had been served, they could have revoked the passports of the individuals.”
The sheriff responded to the foreign department’s request with a letter of his own.
“In the matter of (blacked out), I, as the duly elected Sheriff of the County, have a duty to refuse service as you requested. Even though this may be a “crime” under your laws; such a violation under our laws is clearly a violation of the Constitution. The right to travel is a part of the “liberty” of which the citizen cannot be deprived. Freedom of movement across frontiers in either direction and inside frontiers as well, was a part of our heritage. Freedom of movement is basic in our scheme of values. As the elected Sheriff, my first duty to protect our Constitution and our citizens.
Therefore, your court paperwork has been returned to you not served.
Chris Heitman, Sheriff.”
Since Heitman did not serve the paperwork, the Nova Scotia courts will not be able to further pursue the case through the county. However, as previously mentioned, Meeks and Masters had already sought legal counsel in Canada through the animal rescue group and were waiting for the tickets to be processed through the Canadian court to have the issue dismissed.