MSU Parking Ticket Leads To Case At Supreme Court

LANSING (WWJ) – The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a free-speech case that began with a parking ticket at Michigan State University.

Jared Rapp, a law student at the school, was accused of yelling at a parking-enforcement employee and taking his picture after he found a ticket on his car in 2008.

“I walked up to his window and I said ‘Did you write this?’ and he said ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ I’m like “Did you write this ticket? Because, you lied, there’s still time left on the meter. Come look at it.’ He refused to look at it and I asked him for his name. He said ‘Why do you want it?’ and I said ‘Because I’m going to have to put a stop to this,'” said Rapp.

The employee reported feeling threatened and called campus police, who arrested Rapp based on a university ordinance.

“A portion of it says that it’s unlawful for any person to disrupt any person carrying out service for the university, and any person includes the university’s police department, it includes the parking department and it includes bus drivers, teachers, landscapers, everybody who works at the university, literally, everybody,” said Rapp.

Rapp was placed on probation for two years, ordered to perform 80 hours of community service and fined $873. He said the university ordinance is an illegal infringement on his free-speech rights.

“A vote in favor of this ordinance is a vote in favor of unbridled police power to say ‘Okay, we can make laws that we don’t really enforce but we use it whenever we don’t like you,'” said Rapp.

Rapp believes he was arrested only because he was pressing the employee for his name because he planned to fight the parking ticket.

A message seeking comment was left with the university.

  • Maria

    MSU parking needs to shape up. I had the same situation happen to me. There was still time left on the meter and a parking police employee gave me a ticket. But there’s no way to prove otherwise and I ended up having to pay the University for a $10 parking ticket I did not deserve.

  • Lauren


  • Mike

    Issuing meter tickets while there is still time left happens regularly. I once told a meter maid to explain himself and he said “It’s what we are supposed to do. We assume you won’t make it back in time when there are less than five minutes or so left.” And, they are fully aware that there is no way for a student to prove they made it on time.

  • Judy

    They used to sit and wait for the meter to expire. I watched them do it and had 2 tickets to pay. Now that I think of it, maybe it hadnt expired at all.

  • Cathy

    I am horrified to hear this. This is simply WRONG. I hope MSU administrators are listening to this – and I sure am glad my son didn’t end up going there!!!

  • timgray1

    The supreme court shot a giant hole in the 4th amendement monday, they will uphold being jailed for any reason.

  • Rachael

    As an MSU student, the rules and regulations for parking is completely ridiculous. Honestly, I hope he wins. I recently found out that for msu parking tickets, they give the “parking services” commission on each ticket they write. Someone please tell me how that isn’t corrupt.

  • anon

    False, there is no commission for any ticket written… i don’t know where you got this information but it is no where near being true

  • Anonyomus

    I was also told recently by someone who used to work at MSU parking services that they were earning commission. Sounds like a lot of students on a power trip. Seriously though, when is the corruption with that place going to quit? I also had an encounter where I had 5 minutes left on my meter and got a ticket. When I protested it, it was sustained. I had pictures and everything to prove it. How about I pay $20,000 a year to go to school here and I will park wherever I please!

  • Andy

    I am an MSU student living in EL. The parking patrol are notoriously terrible up here. They are not nice people and from my personal experience, very sarcastic and spiteful. They stalk cars at meters and get off on writing unfair tickets. Thank you for finally stepping up, you have the full support of the MSU student body.

  • hokansch

    I too have seen this happen and have found PACE and other non-police-but-still-act-like-police entities in east lansing to be very rude and not open to objections of any kind. A PACE officer tried to ticket me once and I was fifteen feet away when I objected and he told me if I came any closer he would give me another ticket for the same thing this fellow was ticketed for…he ended up not giving me a ticket when I calmly explained to him what was going on then he scurried away like the rat he was….their behavior is non sense and something has to be done about it! Thank you for standing up against this injustice Mr. Rapp!

  • AB

    The one thing I don’t miss about MSU! And I personally know a few people who work for the parking police and yes they do earn money for giving a certain amount of tickets out.

  • HATE MSU Parking

    I know people who have been inside their cars to pick up drunk friends and get ticketed. Not standing tickets either, parking tickets. The parking services truck parks in front of them to block them from getting out while they write the ticket. Like would you rather a drunk idiot get behind the wheel and potentially kill someone?! You wouldn’t give a taxi a ticket and that’s basically what a friend is doing, but without charging them. I have gotten tickets before in the student lot on Service Rd behind Holden because when it snows, it literally takes them a full week before they plow it. Then when they do, they go around and ticket everyone who couldn’t see the lines and made up parking spots. I got a ticket because I wasn’t perfectly inside the lines. It didn’t prevent anyone from parking next to me, I didn’t take up more than one spot. I was surprised they actually appealed it though. ALWAYS appeal your tickets and give a good explanation. Even if you have to go to court to fight it, more often than not they don’t show up and you just have to tell your story to the judge and there’s no one there to fight you.

  • scottyb

    I would rather experience the aftermath of consecutively eating 10 greasy Little Caesars pizzas than have to deal with MSU parking staff. It is seriously that bad on this campus. If you don’t believe me, then I dare you to come on this campus and find out for yourself. As you are passing through East Lansing, get off 127 at Trowbridge, and drive to a meter on campus. Once there, put 5 minutes worth of coins in the meter and just wait. Within 60 seconds 10 meter attendants will be at your car fighting over who gets to write the ticket. After they write the ticket they wisp away as if they were never there (with two minutes still left on the meter).

    Seriously. Its that bad.

  • Jared Rapp

    Thank you everyone for your support.

  • Yummy Tummy

    PUNK “LAW” student!!!!!!

    PAY the METER PUNK !!!!!!!

  • anon

    Call Rob Wojick from Fox 2 News, have him video record multiple incidents without saying anything to the parking staff, then publish the evidence on the Hall of Shame for the evening news.

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