The defendant in People v Rapp, argued today before the Michigan Supreme Court, was a law student whose vehicle had been ticketed in an MSU parking facility. He confronted the enforcing parking officer in a manner the officer found threatening and was convicted of violating MSU Ordinance 15.05, a misdemeanor, which provides:
No person shall disrupt the normal activity or molest the property of any person, firm, or agency while that person, firm, or agency is carrying out service, activity or agreement for or with the University.
On appeal, the conviction was overturned in the circuit court, which found that the ordinance was unconstitutionally overbroad on its face and ordered the prosecution to pay $833.65 in taxable costs. On appeal by the prosecutor, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case back to the circuit court to consider whether the ordinance was unconstitutional as applied, and any other remaining claims of the defendant. Here's the Court of Appeals opinion (PDF).
The defendant is arguing in part that the ordinance is overly broad and vague, while the prosecution contends that the ordinance focuses on disruption of MSU employees at their work rather than speech.
Rapp's attorney, Nick Bostic, told NPR that his hope is that the Court tells the MSU Board of Trustees, "this ordinance is off the books; if you need something that addresses this, write a new one, with these concepts in mind." Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings distinguished the case from a federal precedent dealing with the right of police to make arrests if they’re interrupted in their duties; legally, he said, the terms “interrupt” and “disrupt” have been interpreted differently.