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Leaving Circuit City – Bag Search?

Some of us, like Michael Righi (and me), have a real problem with groundless intrusions into our lives, even small ones. rights.jpg (If you’re inclined to give up your rights because “you have nothing to hide, so what’s the big deal,” you might want to skip this one.) Mr. Righi was leaving a Circuit City store in Pittsburgh, after paying for his item. Per Mr. Righi’s blog, here’s what happened next:

As I headed towards the exit doors I passed a gentleman whose name I would later learn is Santura. As I began to walk towards the doors Santura said, “Sir, I need to examine your receipt.” I responded by continuing to walk past him while saying, “No thank you.”

As I walked through the double doors I heard Santura yelling for his manager behind me. My father and the family had the Buick pulled up waiting for me outside the doors to Circuit City. I opened the door and got into the back seat while Santura and his manager, whose name I have since learned is Joe Atha, came running up to the vehicle. I closed the door and as my father was just about to pull away the manager, Joe, yelled for us to stop. Of course I knew what this was about, but I played dumb and pretended that I didn’t know what the problem was. I wanted to give Joe the chance to explain what all the fuss was for.

Mr. Righi continues:

I twice asked Joe to back away from the car so that I could close the door. Joe refused. On three occasions I tried to pull the door closed but Joe pushed back on the door with his hip and hands. I then gave Joe three options:
“Accuse me of shoplifting and call the police. I will gladly wait for them to arrive.”
“Back away from the car so that I can close the door and drive away.”
“If you refuse to let me leave I will be forced to call the police.”
Joe didn’t budge. At this point I pushed my way past Joe and walked onto the sidewalk next to the building. I pulled out my phone and dialed 911.

So what do you think the police officer, responding to Mr. Righi’s call, did? He busted Mr. Righi (for “obstructing official business”), patted him down, cuffed him, put him in the cruiser, took him to the station, booked him and finger printed him. Mr. Righi’s dad posted his bail. And why was Mr. Righi busted? No, not for refusing to show his receipt (that is voluntary – you can read more about that here and here). He was busted because he refused to show the police officer his driver’s license, which he was not required to do! By the way, he was nowhere near the car, and anyway, he was a passenger!

Mr. Righi will beat this charge. It’s just incredible that it was brought in the first place. And if you’re wandering about Mr. Righi’s credentials, at age 26, he is an accomplished computer professional, as highlighted by the news stories about him on his blog (in the Q & A section near the bottom).

Props to Cindy Hill for submitting this story to Legal Juice!

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