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Student convicted of shouting at parking warden gets justice in high court

Shouting at a parking attendant when you get a ticket might not be morally acceptable — but it’s legally permissable under the right circumstances.

Now you can tell traffic wardens where to shove it -- legally.
Now you can tell traffic wardens where to shove it — legally.

29-year-old Jared Rapp, a former Michigan State University law student, shouted at an MSU parking enforcement officer back in September 2008 and was subsequently charged with a misdemeanour for violating a school ordinance.

Rapp was sentenced to eighty hours of community service, two years of probation, mandatory participation in a behaviour program and fined $873. However in a court ruling of five to two, the court found MSU’s ordinance “criminalizes a substantial amount of constitutionally protected speech.”

The state Supreme Court found the ordinance, which prohibits people from “disrupting the normal activity” of any person, firm or agency “carrying out service, activity or agreement for or with the University”, was too broad and reversed the original conviction last week.

Justice Diane Hathaway said the ordinance in question “could be violated numerous times throughout any given day given that there are seemingly infinite ways in which someone might ‘disrupt’ another who is engaged in an ‘activity’ for or with MSU.”

Rapp was said to have found a parking ticket attached to his car and went looking for the attendant, Richard Rego. Rego, having taken an earful from Rapp, went back to his car to call for help and waited there until the police arrived at the scene. Rapp then reportedly stood outside the vehicle (possibly in a pleasant and not at all menacing manner) taking pictures of the parking officer with his mobile phone. 

According to MSU spokesman Kent Cassella , the university is currently looking to ensure a revised ordinance “meets the court’s ruling”.

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