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      04-05-2012, 10:14 AM   #1
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Parking fascists go to the Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan State University ordinance at issue says: No person shall disrupt the normal activity ... of any person, firm, or agency while that person, firm, or agency is carrying out service, activity or agreement for or with the University.

The Michigan Supreme Court will consider whether a then-Michigan State University law school student had a constitutional right to confront a parking enforcement employee about a ticket.

Oral arguments before the court are scheduled for today at the Michigan Hall of Justice.

The case stems from a 2008 incident in a campus parking ramp. Jared Rapp’s Land Rover was ticketed for parking in a space with an expired meter, but Rapp said the meter hadn’t yet expired.

According to court documents: Rapp, who has since graduated with a law degree and now is a practicing attorney in Illinois, approached the parking employee, Ricardo Rego, who was having another vehicle towed.

Rapp stopped his Land Rover in front of Rego’s service pickup and demanded that Rego tell him his name. But Rego refused.

Rego said he believed Rapp was acting in an aggressive manner, documents show, and that Rapp yelled at him. Rapp also stood outside Rego’s pickup and took photographs of him with a cellphone.

Rapp’s attorney, Nick Bostic, said in an interview that Rapp — who had served on a committee that addressed parking issues — knew that when tickets were challenged, the university would not necessarily send the employee who wrote the ticket to the hearing. The university, Bostic said, was not disclosing that practice. That’s why Rapp was adamant about learning Rego’s name.

The ticket eventually was dismissed, Bostic said. But a jury in 54B District Court convicted Rapp of violating a university ordinance that says, “No person shall disrupt the normal activity” of a university employee in completing an assigned task.

Bostic added that he hopes the university looks at the issue of sending substitute employees to testify at parking ticket hearings.

If Rapp’s conduct was so wrong, Bostic said ,why did MSU police wait nine days to file a report?

Bostic suggested that the charges were retaliatory, because of Rapp’s activity on the parking committee.

In 2009, MSU issued more than 122,000 parking citations, totaling $2.4 million in fines.

Rapp’s case began its path to the Supreme Court after Rapp appealed the verdict, and an Ingham County Circuit Court judge dismissed the charges, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said the “freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.”