Papers Please: Arrested at Circuit City, Followup

What a crazy week this has been. After writing about my unlawful arrest at Circuit City last Saturday, I’ve been inundated with emails, phone calls and donations. I would like to thank everybody who sent me a message of support. In the last four days I’ve received over one thousand emails and blog responses. I knew this story would get some attention, but I had no idea that it would receive as large an outcry as it has. If I haven’t responded to your message yet I apologize. I read every single message that I received, and I have done my best to respond to as many as I can. I still have about 300 emails to respond to and I will try to get back to every one.

I would also like to thank everybody who contributed to my legal defense fund. As of September 5th, 2007 at 6:00PM EST, I received donations from 195 people committed to seeing civil rights maintained in this country. The total raised so far is $3,225.55. (This amount represents the total after PayPal took their cut.) I will use this money to fight the charges brought against me by the Brooklyn, Ohio Police Department. If any money remains after paying my attorney I will donate the excess money to the ACLU so that they may fight to prevent this from happening to others in the future. September 6th, 2007 @ 7:53PMEST Update: The money raised through donations is now up to $3,550.56, although my legal fees have already exceeded $7,500 and I haven’t even gone to trial yet. It’s apparently more expensive to defend your rights than I anticipated.

In the last few days I’ve received a number of media requests which I’m afraid I have to turn down. As much as I want to discuss what happened and further explain my thoughts on consumer and civil rights, I’ve been advised by my attorney to remain silent until after my September 20th hearing.September 6th, 2007 @ 7:53PMEST Update: I am now referring all media to my attorney. Please contact me for my attorney’s information at michael dot righi at field expert dot com.

I hope that my story has made some people think twice about giving up their rights to businesses and law enforcement alike. The line between civil rights and consumer rights has become blurred in this country, and I believe it’s just as important to stand up for yourself whether it’s in a courthouse or a Circuit City parking lot. You don’t have to stand in front of a tank or refuse to move to the back of the bus to make a difference in the world. If everybody just asserted themselves a little bit more and better understood the consequences of blindly giving into authority this world would be a much better place.

I wanted to leave you with a few comments that I received. The purpose of showing you the first two comments is to highlight how much work needs to be done to educate people about their civil liberties. I’m disheartened at how many Americans think that asserting your rights and questioning authority make you a bad citizen. The purpose of showing you the third comment is to hopefully inspire you the way that it inspired me.

Comment #1
David wrote:

I don’t understand why you had to make a big deal, they do this to make sure thieves don’t steal their expensive equipment. Jesus, it’s 10 seconds of your time, and you get the feeling of being a good citizen after they thank you and bid you good day afterward.

Comment #2
Chris wrote:

Hello,

I feel I have to ask – instead of being uppity about the whole thing, why not show them your receipt and be done with it? The reasons you provided on your page are based on slippery-slope fallacies and the strange praise of principles over the practical.

Basically, I’m looking for a practical, concrete reason why “making a scene, calling the police, not obeying the police officer, and getting arrested” is better than “here’s the receipt, have a nice day”, without using the term

[I'm] depressed that kids these days don’t learn to respect and obey authority.

Comment #3
Anonymous wrote:

To the people here who only care about status quo, about don’t rock the boat and d-d-d-do right, about a few tears in a moment of stress – you are cows. Myers-Briggs normal junkies; play along law-fodder, don’t stand out, homogenised, be sensible, inch deep, cattle.

You deserve nothing you have lost, or will lose, as you cling to the illusory prairie you only wish you inhabited. There are mountains to be climbed in this existence, and eluding the grasp of people, who presume to own your individuality, counts as one of them. “Being Adult” must not include domestication. Adult cattle are still herded and fed to their masters. “Adult” must mean something more, a self-possessed state of independence and freedom of movement.

Pragmatic passivity has become the modern life drug of choice; the one no wars will be fought against, if we leave it to you – because you love being hooked on indulgent expediency, because the authorities need your addiction and will never jail you for being a compliance junkie, and because you have an appointment somewhere more comfortably familiar, and apparently self-seving, than the realm of individuals.

You see it as virtue, as maturity, but you dream. Michael Righi has stirred you from your dream and you resent it as you would if every day were Saturday and, inexplicably, your alarm just went off.

If anybody is still confused about why I choose to live my life based on principles, I recommend that you read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. If only this world had more Howard Roarks…

151 Comments on "Papers Please: Arrested at Circuit City, Followup"

  1. F Peeters says:

    I admire your courage in standing up for your rights! I have been annoyed so many times by this type of receipt checking at sites like Circuit City and Fry’s…
    (I’m nop friggin’ thief, but if you think I am, call the cops, by all means!)

    If I weren’t a guest in the US whenever i purchase something there, I would take a more assertive stance as well (as I do here at home! I never stop for a ‘receipt check’ at the few stores that actually still do that over here!), but as it is, I am only visiting the US for company business, and I do have to take that in to account in such situations! It’d make my job working for a US based company very painfull if I weren’t allowed in to the country anymore!

    Luckily over here, the law clearly states that searching a person (and his personal belongings) can only be done by those with a special training, *and* confirmed by the court as special investigative personnel…

  2. Charlotte Bard says:

    I am so proud of you. I am a 40 year old mother of children between the ages of 2 and 20. I am sure it hurt you to know your siblings had to watch this, however, it will help them to stand on principles. I am having all of my school aged children read this article because I had similar instances happen to me in my lifetime and I was always told that I was just being defiant. Demanding to be respected as a human being is not being defiant, it is being strong. May God richly bless you.

  3. Noel says:

    I’m curious…in this update, you mention fighting the charges brought against you by the police department, but are you planning on filing charges against the Circuit City employees for their harassment? Detaining you and your family in the way they did is clearly outside their purview. I completely applaud your activities to fight against what can be seen, at best, as the ignorance of those in power or, at worst, the rising police state that this nation has become in the past 5 years.

  4. Amanda says:

    Obviously a calculated stunt. No one would do something like this with the intention to go straight to the ACLU.

  5. Mark Jones says:

    I’m really curious as to why you are being told to say nothing prior to the hearing date. If you really do want to educate people as you say, you aren’t going to do it in a court of law. The only way people are going to learn about how serious this invasion of privacy is, is to hear about it on Oprah, 60 Minutes, and “Good Morning America” because lets face it, most of the “cattle” watch TV more than they read, more than they dedicate any grey matter to thinking, more than they question facts they have just assumed are correct.

    How many people accept the religion of a parent because that’s what they are supposed to do? How is that any different from accepting the model citizen idea and “not causing a fuss”.

    The Germans walked lock step in militarism before both world wars while the passivists like Einstein recoiled from the brainless adherence to military drill and dogma.

    Since 9/11 we’ve been told to trade our freedoms to combat terrorism, something that one of our Supreme Court Judges specifically warned against in Hiibel.

    I’ve been surprised at the number of people I’ve talked about with this case that had the cattle mentality of just “get along”, truly surprised because to me it seems so obviously wrong.

    Maybe you have no choice but to go on these shows and educate the people, but if the lawyer has really good reasons for why this isn’t the case, maybe you could share those with us. I’d hate to see you take this kind of stand on this issue and then join the “cattle” crowd by listening to a lawyer that would not have made the stand in the first place. So please, illuminate the issue of silence before hearing for us.

  6. Joe says:

    There are bigger problems in the world today then complaining about getting stopped at circuit city. People die every day from hunger, disease, and war and you complain about your consumer and civil rights while you purchase a “Cars” game. How about you grow up and learn what is really important in life. Make a difference, or at least don’t tie up the justice department with your bullshit. You got arrested, that sucks – big deal. And you had to wear a wrinkled shirt – Wow – heaven forbid. Be a man.

  7. Shawn says:

    Some of these young people depress me with how trusting of authority they are. And yet how little they respect our founding fathers and constitution by giving up their civil rights without a thought. Rights that better Americans have fought and died to secure.

    Amanda, do you really believe you live in a society where practicing your civil rights is considered a stunt? That sounds more like Russia or China than the US. Maybe you should move where you’ll fit in better.

  8. Noel says:

    Joe, to use your own turn of phrase – Heaven forbid he defend his civil rights in a country founded on the desire to protect them.

    Maybe you’d like to share with us what more righteous cause you are actively fighting for to make a difference, since you seem so interested in tearing down Righi’s fight for one that is important to him.

  9. LT says:

    I am torn, part of me wants to applaud you, however the other part is having trouble believing that this was not something you pre-planned and carried out. I just think that you could find something more important to “stand” up for that was more beneficial. There are young men your age dying for you to live in this country, while you are acting out a plan to get attention back home. Shame

  10. Joe, this is America. We have civil rights. Just because you’re too much of a pu**y to stand up for yours, why do you feel compelled to harass other, better people for standing up for theirs?

    Best of luck in your efforts to solve world hunger, disease, and war. I’m sure you have taken a stand in those efforts like Michael has for civil rights, right?

  11. JF says:

    I am disappointed that you are turning down the media opportunities. I for one know that my family was disappointed to find out that your story was not featured on the local news. I live locally to where the incident took place and did notify all local news stations regarding your situation.

    Trust me, if there is one thing that Brooklyn Ohio is not able to handle is pressure from the press. This would be a good tool to use on them.

    Also, please do update us regarding what your plans are regarding Circuit City, City of Brooklyn and the officer who illegally arrested you. I find it disturbing that this police officer may still be on duty in this city. I imagine that is he is not punished for his illegal actions, he may feel that he can continue to act out side of the law with other citizens at will.

    Do you plan to press charges against any of these people?
    Do you plan to file civil suits?

  12. justin says:

    even if this is a scam(not acussing) u did what you bu rights are alowwed to do
    you stand up for your rights i thank you. and by law if the cops dont read you your maranda rights before arresting you your case is dismissed (ask lawyer) please take no offence but if you rare making this up who cares you point out issues that should be noticed the law is taking to much power to say. some police think that there better than citizens but they should know they are citzens to. and to people that think he wasted his time most people just go home and watch tv at least he is doing something
    he believes in not many people do that these days.

    ps please email me if u think this helped or hate me
    twistedmetalcheater@yahoo.com

  13. justin says:

    sorry bout typos keyboard messed up

  14. justin says:

    to the people die stuff
    thats life even if we tried to help there are many others who are suffering i think we can but by then it will be to late for many people die people suffer its a part of life people suffer because there are too many people in the world in 30 years we increased the population by 30 billion so help out
    wear a condom or pull out

  15. Cnd_law_student says:

    As a Student I don’t know that much about the law, especially, but here is my take (again it is free so its likely not good, and seeing that I am not a lawyer it is clearly not advice)
    1) There is a case called “Moore v. The Queen” in which a person ran through a red light on a BIKE and failed to show his ID. Since it was not a motor vehicle I think he got off. This was latter replaced in R. v. Waterfield by the “ancillary power doctrine”. Anyway if memory serves, both are UK cases, and therefore likely can be used with persuasive power in the USA.
    2) As for the manager blocking your dads car, an interesting take would be going after them for false imprisonment. Its one of those odd (although not that odd) ways of approaching this problem. It’s a slight stretch, but at least it is an f-off to employees involved.

    Again take all what i say with a grain of salt, put slightly more weight into #1 as a starting point in your endeavour.

    -good luck

  16. Michael says:

    Amanda:

    “Obviously a calculated stunt. No one would do something like this with the intention to go straight to the ACLU.”

    Maybe you should go back to your history books and take a hard look at some of the most important civil rights efforts…particularly Rosa Parks and her defiance….planned. She was an ACLU Activist and had their support prior to getting on that bus.

    So what if it was planned? Does that make the point any less valid?

    LT:

    “There are young men your age dying for you to live in this country, while you are acting out a plan to get attention back home. Shame”

    People are dying for us to live in this country? Perhaps you should look a little further into the foreign policy decisions that are made regarding war spending and our current situation before you start going off about our soldiers dying for our freedom. In the past, yes, today, not so much.

    Civil liberties are the cornerstone of our nation and there are few things more important than protecting those rights, and if you think that fighting a war in Afghanistan or continued involvement is a more pressing matter than protecting our citizens from the oppressive government that moves further and further every day to snuff out our hard fought civil rights.

  17. mp says:

    Wow. Many important questions have been raised over the course of this. Questions about civil liberties, questions about authority, questions about law. But I think along the way we’ve lost sight of the most important question of all…did your sister like her present?

    Enjoy having your precious time and money tied up in legal battles instead of living your life. Douche.

  18. Christopher Parker says:

    Michael,

    Thank you for having the courage to stand up for my rights. Regardless of what happens from here, you’ve set an important precedent that is sure to get all of America’s attention.

    To those people who would say Michael’s just a trouble-maker: The Revolutionary War was started over taxes and fair representation in government. A new nation was founded over these issues, and many people died in the process. Standing up for one’s right not to be searched by another citizen of this same nation and one’s right to merely exist without requiring identification is just as important as the original causes that conceived the USA.

    In the future, when you’re required to produce identification in order to do something as simple as walk down the street or buy a loaf of bread, what are you going to think of Michael Righi then? Sure, checking a shopping bag seems trivial, but where do you draw the line? What if the search of your shopping bag were extended to a search of your pockets? Your wallet? Your body? Your personal history, including (but not limited to) credit history, criminal records, and medical records?

    “Sorry, ma’am, but we’re going to have to run a background check on you before we can let you leave with this Over-The-Counter medication you’ve just purchased. Oh, and we’re going to have to share this information with all of our employees to keep them informed of your purchase history. The best way to do this is to make your records accessible via our Web site, so our partners and affiliates will also have access tot his information. Of course, this is all to help us fight the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, and the War on Theft. What’s that? You won’t comply? What have you got to hide? [9-1-1]”

    Sure, this seems far-fetched now. I’ve read that our overlords are trying to pass legislation that could require one to show a passport in order to travel between states. How long until this changes to cities and towns? Streets? Houses? Rooms? How long until we’re branded at birth, our RFID passports are embedded in our bodies, and we don’t have any choice?

  19. Mike says:

    For those questioning the need to stay out of the media, keep in mind that the police department and prosecutors will follow the media as well as the rest of us. What’s to say the DA wouldn’t try to use media appearances against Michael? Not sure how they could, but why take unnecessary risks? I’m happy to wait another couple weeks to hear an update.

    As for the Circuit City employee, formal charges were filed. From the original post:
    “After being released I stuck around the police station for a little while to fill out the necessary paper work to press charges against the Circuit City manager who physically prevented me from leaving the parking lot.”

    That is another issue that likely will not be discussed much to avoid unnecessary risks. You’ll notice there aren’t many “official” statements from the other side either. A search of recent news turned up only the following:

    “We have the right to inspect parcels leaving our premises,” Circuit City spokeswoman Jackie Foreman said. “This is a common practice in the retail industry designed to hold down costs and prevent shoplifting. We think most consumers understand this.”

    - and -

    “If you don’t like their policy at a particular store, don’t shop at that store,” Deputy Chief Scott Mielke said.

    (both from http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/other/118906951630511.xml&coll=2)

    I will continue to check the blog here and am hoping that Michael is taking notes of everything leading up to the cases so that he can give us the back story when he is able. Until then, I will patiently wait.

    And to Michael. You have inspired me. While I don’t have the guts to go to the lengths that you did in front of family, I do tend to walk past the “receipt checkers” on a regular basis. I suspect that based on your treatments, I will be even more inclined to refuse going forward. I wish you all the luck and hope for your prevailing in all your legal issues stemming from this incident.

  20. Blake says:

    Bottom line…trouble maker or not it doesn’t matter.
    Preplanned or not it doesn’t matter.

    Circuit City had no right to detain you unless they thought
    you were shoplifting. They did not think so by their own
    admission. They then had one recourse. “We don’t want
    you shopping at our store” That is perfectly fine and legal.
    Anything else crosses the line….

    You are not required to have ID to be a passenger in a
    car or shop at Circuit City. All you are legally obligated
    to do is identify yourself truthfully.

  21. Lindus says:

    I can only say that since reading about these kind of cases before I have put this into practice unless in a serious hurry. As a non-citizen I am of course weary about the repercussions if police are to be called but then again, it would be interesting to see the authorities process me for this petty issue and also see them contradict themselves in court. If it ever were to go to court I am certain it would be thrown out by a grand jury and it would all be a waste of time for the accusers.

    For all of you who complain; go read your history. Or go live in Russia under Putin. Sounds like he is creating your utopia for you… And even if this doesn’t help one child in Africa it is still important enough as I sure don’t want any of my children having to constantly carry ID and having to identify and prove their schoolbooks are not contraband or stolen when entering or leaving school. What’s the next step? Do we all have to carry receipts for the clothes we have on lest we be accused of stealing them when we leave a store? You decide in what kind of society you want to live in, I personally want to live in one where the police police, not harass and unlawfully detain at the whim or store owners.

    With hopes for total vindication by Michael,
    /Lindus

  22. Al says:

    I think the next time one of these people ask me to look in a bag I will walk with them over to the returns counter and request a refund. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

  23. Noel says:

    Jim, I believe the proposed legislation Christopher is referring to is what is detailed here: http://papersplease.org/wp/2007/08/12/dhs-proposes-to-require-both-id-papers-and-passes-for-all-air-travel/

    You may or may not find this to be a credible source, I’ll leave that up to you, but please note the off-site links that at the very least help to corroborate what you may decide to label a “conspiracy theory” before dismissing it out of hand.

    Also, when you make comments like “Keep in mind that I generally believe the “slippery slope” argument you’re advancing to be a logical fallacy.” it’s typically expected that you either or explain or are prepared to explain why you think that…You can’t just say “that’s a logical fallacy nyah nyah” and move on as if we’re all supposed to agree with you.

  24. Dark Jedi says:

    Amanda:

    Please show us where he has involved the ACLU in his case. He hasn’t. The only mention of the ACLU was that if the donations exceed his legal costs, he will donate the surplus to them.

    Your knee jerked so hard it knocked all the sense right out of you.

    Michael, I applaud your willingness to stand on principal, no matter how small the infraction seems tot he small minded. This rampant lack of principal, coupled with the dismaying “just give Authority what it wants” attitude is something that needs to be fought tooth and nail.

  25. MEg says:

    BRAVO!!! It is refreshing to see that somewhere out there in this US of A is another citizen who is cognizant of our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!! I have myself verbally expressed my disatisfaction (while complying in action) to producing my ID when using a credit card – which is on the presumption of “Guilty until proven Innocent”. I am proud of you and every american who stands for our freedom!!!

  26. Noel says:

    Jim, I certainly won’t argue with you that a good solution would have been to return the material rather than allow himself to be searched. My one contention would be to replace the phrase “better response” with “easier response.” I’d say that the “better response” of the two was to do what he did. If he takes the appropriate steps from here, I think he has the chance to send a much bigger statement to Circuit City and other companies with such draconian loss prevention policies than he would have had he returned the item and forgotten about it.

  27. joe says:

    Have you looked at this supreme court case?
    (FindLaw) — In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Larry Dudley Hiibel.

  28. Rachel says:

    Obviously a calculated stunt. No one would do something like this with the intention to go straight to the ACLU.

    No one would do something like what? Refuse to show their receipt and let someone look through their bag after buying something? Other people have done that. I know at least one. The reason it’s legal for stores to ask for this is that they’re asking for voluntary cooperation. You’re supposed to be able to say no. The fact that you’re on someone’s property does not give them the right to look through your things when you’ve told them no.

    Or do you mean no one would actually call the police if someone was physically preventing him from leaving their property? Yes, it looks like this man had some training in how to deal with this sort of situation without giving in, and without getting violent. Good for him. If someone happened to know this store was not really treating it as voluntary, and decided to set up a scenario to show just how far they’d go, then good from them.

  29. disclaimer: IANAL

    Wow. I can’t believe that people are bashing Michael for this.

    For those who are bashing there are simple questions that should show you why he stood up for his rights:

    Do think it’s acceptable for a store manager to restrain you illegally?
    Do think it’s acceptable to be arrested illegally?

    There isn’t a slippery slope or anything else. These are the questions.

    Both times, Michael simply refused to comply with a request. Rude? Maybe. Illegal? No.

    Would it have been within his rights to comply with either request? Yes. But he wasn’t compelled to, according to law.

    Ciao!

  30. Chad says:

    I understand completely where you were coming from in regards to the Circuit City security, but, at least where I’m from, if you are 16 or older you legally have to have a state issued ID on you at all times and you must produce it if asked by a law enforcement official.

    Similarly, when pulled over for no reason, then asked for permission to search my vehicle, I like to decline. I feel that by doing so I am standing up for my rights, and if the cop decided to waste my time by making up a reason to stop me and ditto for wanting to search my vehicle, I feel it’s just desserts wasting their time getting a warrant so they can search my vehicle. Then, when nothing is found, the point proves itself.

  31. Actually, I’ve been thinking a little bit about this and I think the
    disconnect between some of the people and Michael is that
    they view morality differently. They value authority above fairness.

    I have a post about this on my blog, with pointers to a quiz you can
    take (I recommend taking that first) and a video explaining what it
    means.

    http://docwhat.gerf.org/2007/05/morality/

    Ciao!

  32. Jude says:

    I totally agree with Michael and applaud him for having the courage to stand up for himself and for common sense civil rights. We are turning into a country in which you are GUILTY UNLESS PROVEN INNOCENT!!! What’s wrong with this picture? Been on an airplane after 9/11? – you are automatically forced to practically strip down to the your underwear to prove you are not guilty of anything and just want to fly to see your grandmother in Florida. Dept stores automatically assume you are a thief when you walk in the door by limiting the number of clothes you can try on at once and asking for receipts when you leave. And the rudeness with which these demands are forced upon us is pervasive, disheartening, and undermining a decent society.

    Common has lost it’s sense. Any time I have challenged authority in the past, I am also made to feel like I’m just being difficult, not that there might be a legitimate reason.

    My favorite quote is from Albert Einstein: “BLIND RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY IS THE GREATEST ENEMY OF TRUTH”. Amen

  33. Andy says:

    What strikes me as funny is the people that are leaving posts here about ‘tying up the judicial system’, ‘just do what they are asking and move on’, etc. You are all showing what model citizens YOU are. I believe that the group of cats sitting around in the 1770′s who were the guys ‘wasting taxpayers money’ by doing the ‘bullshit’ that they were coming up with. Like telling King George that they weren’t going to take his shit anymore or live in his police state, and were willing to sign their names on paper to it, and die for it. I’d be willing to bet that those guys would probably be out in the streets right now protesting the hell out of you spineless chumps who rollover to any authority just cause you’re a model citizen. I’ll be you guys are the ones waving the flag about how are guys are fighting for our freedom. Open your eyes and understand how precious freedom is, earn it everyday, they are giving it to you, yes even though you didn’t ask. And before you flamebaiters start ripping me up about how I don’t support our troops, you’re wrong, I love those guys, I was one of them and served a tour in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I didn’t stand behind the flag, I stood in front of it. WAKE UP…………morons. Fight the good fight.

  34. joe says:

    Not saying that the Hibel case proved Michael in the wrong. Just was wondering if he was aware of it. Because it is quite similar to his case.

  35. Vernon says:

    Ya know, I seriously never thought once about when a store employee asked to see my receipt. I always assumed it was a new law to stop thiefs. Now that I see exactly what it is, I wonder if Sam’s Club, or Costco know this? Every time I go to Costco, there is someone at the exit and they from what I thought HAVE to check every cart that leaves with receipt. Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if I told them no I won’t. Might try it next time I go.

  36. RHB says:

    (1) Michael brought some “Circuit City owned merchandise” to the cashier.
    (2) The cashier a Circuit City employee accepted Michael’s payment.
    (3) This employee then gave Michael a sales receipt and bagged the purchased merchandise.
    (4) Note: At the moment the “sales receipt was in Michael’s possession the merchandise was the property of Michael”.
    (5) From this point forward, no Circuit City employee had a need to approach Michael and ask him anything as he departed this Circuit City store.

  37. Andy says:

    Jim B.

    I agree with you, he did have other options. What we have here is a guy, and I’m assuming a relatively young guy at that. So, he hasn’t had time to fall into the ‘ah the hell with it’ mold like the majority of us. And I will concede that I’m in that mold too. I don’t do anything that will find me in the annals of history. But, from time to time, I have you get excited and rally my support behind a guy like this. I have been around the world in some less than ideal circumstances, and have seen the direct result of letting authority take away the extra inch in basic liberties for the ‘greater good’ that it will bring about. And before anyone realizes it, they find themselves living in a WWII Germany, a post WWII Soviet Union, feel free to add your own favorite police state. People can say what they want but it happens, all over the world everyday. I will leave you with this quote:

    Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.

    – Benjamin Franklin

  38. Benji says:

    @Vernon:

    The membership clubs are in a slightly different situation… They still have no legal ability to force a receipt-check, but they do have the option to revoke your membership, should you choose to defy their policy. I know this to be the case with BJ’s, as I read all the fine print when considering a membership. For me, the receipt-check demand was a deal-breaker, but it was disclosed in the membership contract.

    Hope this helps.

    Also, I’ve posted my own writeup and commentary on Michael’s situation at my website, should anyone wish to read:

    http://www.barnyardbbs.com/Ben/Blog/Default.aspx?PostID=462

  39. Tim says:

    I love the retards that use Hiibel as justification for condemning Mr. Righi. The Supreme Court case “Hiibel vs Nevada” *ONLY* stated that you are required to identify yourself to authorities. It did not state you have to show identification. Furthermore, only 21 states have passed legislation on the grounds of Hiibel vs Nevada requiring you to identify yourself (which does not mean showing ID). Supreme Court cases set a PRECEDENCE. They do not dictate state rights. You do not have to show identification.

    Furthermore, it is not Curcuit City’s corporate policy to enforce searches and detainings of its customers. That’s all there is to it. Thank you. Have a nice day.

  40. Tim:

    If the shop wanted to restrain Michael, they would have to accuse him of shoplifting (theft). They may then detain him until the police come to search him.

    They did not accuse him of shoplifting. Many shops require employees to witness the theft before accusing someone of shoplifting.

    The whole situation would have been different if they had accused him of any crime.

    Tom Flannery:

    The theft they were preventing wasn’t by Michael. They were preventing theft by their employees. In other words, they didn’t trust the cashier and were addressing this by inconveniencing the customer.

    It doesn’t prevent customer theft at all.

    Ciao!

  41. Wam says:

    Tim,

    Do you really believe that paying for your items, having a cashier hand you a receipt and bag those items, and then walking to the door meets the “reasonable suspicion” standard?

    “Yes, officer, my employee rung him up and saw him pay for the items, but we still think he’s a theif!”

    If they don’t have a *real* reason to believe you are shoplifting (such as actually seeing you fail to pay for an item, and attempting to leave the store), they have no right to detain.

    The stores that have loss prevention policies that require an employee inspect receipts as customers are leaving are basically saying “We have a reasonable suspicion that everyone is a shoplifter”.

    Now, is that a reasonable statement?

    What if a cop stopped your car, asked you for consent to search, and failure to consent became probable cause?

    That’s basically what your saying, although in a different situation.

  42. joe says:

    Seeing as I am the one who brought up Hibel I figure you are calling me a retard. Except I did not bring it up condem Mr. Righi. I merely mentioned it because it delt with identifying yourself to the police. Nowhere have a said if I agree or disagree with Mr. Righi in this case.

  43. Oliver says:

    This is pretty much going to be a slam dunk for your attorney, with that piece of the Ohio law that says you don’t have to give anything apart from your name, etc.

    Surely (unless you’ve decided you actually quite want your day in court!), you can just have your attorney talk to the prosecutor and have them drop the charges/present no evidence.

    They’ll have no interest in taking this to court when they have absolutely no realistic chance of winning.

  44. RHB says:

    .
    Contact Us

    Welcome to Circuit City’s email support page. Simply choose a topic from the menu below, fill out the required fields and click send. A customer service associate will review your email and reply to your request with a personal response.

    Sometimes our emails get filtered out as spam, so be sure to check the junk folder of your inbox.

    http://www.circuitcity.com/cs_customer_email.jsp

    http://www.circuitcity.com/

    .

  45. JPWinnon says:

    I just wanted to commend you, Sir.

    Any step, no matter the size, taken in defense of our civil rights is a step to be commended.

    Sadly, we, as citizens, have failed to observe our rights and liberties being taken away in tiny pieces. The subtle erosion has left people ready to show their papers to cops, at a moment’s notice, in a parking lot, anywhere. I believe it will get worse if those, like yourself, do not start standing up. The Real-ID act could even manage to make us show ID for using currency (have to show federally approved ID to make use of federal stuff). There was a nice article on CNN about having to have a passport to visit national (federal) parks if our state ID’s didn’t meet the Real-ID standards — standards that are potentially more restrictive than those to get a passport.

    I just wanted to say that I see your action as beginning a stand against such a strong police state.

    People such as yourself bring a little more light back into a world that tries to hide us in fear and darkness.

    I applaud and commend you on your actions.

    Thank You!

  46. GC says:

    Righi called the police then refused to cooperate with them. He was within his rights to refuse to show his ID. However, by doing so,he must be prepared to allow the officer to verify his identity even if it means being hauled into the police station. He was charged under a city ordinance for actions the officer felt met the standards under ord.525.07. It will be up to a judge to determine whether or not those standards are met. There is no “false arrest” yet unless a judge determines it to be so. Righi can claim false arrest all he wants, but that doesn’t make it so.
    Citing ORC is all well and good, but irrelevent here because he was not charged under any statute contained within.
    He may have cause to file suit against CC, but good luck. By walking past the doorman and refusing to show his receipt, thewn hopping into a car that was conveniently waiting outside the door with the engine running and a driver ready to go it will be hard for him to show that there was no cause for suspicion of wrongdoing.
    Lesson learned: If you call 911 don’t make things difficult by claiming to know the law better than the officer you are talking to and refuse to fully cooperate.
    I hold a little hope that CC will file charges against him for attempting to bypass their security measures. But, since that is not in their best interest, I doubt they will.

  47. RHB says:

    .
    Contact Us

    Welcome to Circuit City’s email support page. Simply choose a topic from the menu below, fill out the required fields and click send. A customer service associate will review your email and reply to your request with a personal response.

    Sometimes our emails get filtered out as spam, so be sure to check the junk folder of your inbox.

    Contact Us

    Welcome to Circuit City’s email support page. Simply choose a topic from the menu below, fill out the required fields and click send. A customer service associate will review your email and reply to your request with a personal response.

    Sometimes our emails get filtered out as spam, so be sure to check the junk folder of your inbox.

    circuitcity [DOT] com [Click: Contact Us]

    .

  48. Alan says:

    OK, I’m familiar with the concept of being required to give your name and address if required by a copper. I’m also familiar with the concept of being required to present an ID card (in some European countries, in the UK during and just after the Second World War – and possibly again if the current government gets its way).

    However, a driving licence is specifically a document authorising the bearer to operate a motor vehicle. Mr Righi was NOT operating a motor vehicle but was clearly about to get into a vehicle as a passenger. How the hell does the plod get to demand his drivinglicence in the absence of any evidence that he was driving and with no suspicion that a driving offence was being committed? (I leave aside such issues as the driver being his father, able to confirm Mr Righi’s identity, the vehicle presumably bearing some form of identifying mark which would have associated it with the elder Mr Righi as owner….)

  49. bsc says:

    Maybe those who are able so clearly to discern the blogger’s “pain in the rear” nature – and condemn him because of it regardless of the legal niceties – should post the sentences or paragraphs from the account which decided it for them.

  50. amanda says:

    Because, as he explained, it’s a false sense of authority that people are just so used to giving into as American citizens. He wasn’t required to show the receipt, and from the looks of what he bought it doesn’t look like there was any reason for them to suspect he’d stolen anything in the first place. Standing up for your rights and not caving into authoritatize, pig-headed, goonish attitudes is never something that should be criticized or questioned.

  51. GC says:

    There are some interesting posts here. Some reasonable, some not. But all keep in mind that all you have read is Righi’s account of the events and nothing from CC or the arresting officer. I’m not saying Righi is not telling the truth, only that he is telling things as he remembers them. Memory is not good with details and tends to slant in one’s own favor. Add to that the fact that nobody would relay a story like this and give any information that would cause the reader to think of him as being anything but totally innocent.

  52. Pharon says:

    I admire you for standing up for your principles. I assume the legal justification you’re using is your Fourth Amendment right against unreasonble search and seizure, correct?

    Your case is being very passionately debated at a forum I frequent — over 400 posts so far:

    http://forum.gorillamask.net/showthread.php?t=48763

    One question I have that is not clear — are you suing Circuit City, or is the lawsuit you reference simply you defending your unlawful arrest?

    Anyway, thank you for the inspiration you’ve fostered. The more people out there like you, the better future our country will have. You’re a modern day Howard Roark, as far as I’m concerned.

  53. disclaimer: IANAL

    Tom Flannery:

    Your scenario #1 is flawed. The check mark done by Costco/Sams Club does not prevent returning an item (gotten off the shelf illegally or actually returning it). It doesn’t have any bearing on this case.

    Scenario #2 is what the receipt check is for. The common variation for this is that the cashier doesn’t ring up one or more items that their partner purchases.

    There are other ways to prevent employee theft. Some are psycological (paying them more, giving them share of the store profits, etc.) some are technological (camera mounted to view the whole transaction, weighing items as they are placed in the bag to match what was bought, etc.).

    Presuming that all customers are thieves is legal, but no customer is required to co-operate. If the store acts like your are criminal then I think it is moral and just to act accordingly; refuse every request you legally can to until you are let go or you can talk to your lawyer.

    Ciao!

  54. Tim Says:

    No, denying a voluntary request isn’t Probable Cause, but again, I’m dropping it after this….they likely felt they saw him take something, otherwise, they aren’t likely going to go out to a vehicle, with mulitiple occupants and detain everyone and as they did. I doubt they started their job 2 minutes before and this is the first time this happened to them.

    They did not see him take something. If they did, they would have mentioned it to the officer and it’d be reported here. It’s possible that Michael is lying and did not mention the charge for shoplifting; if he is, it’ll come out shortly.

    But the point is moot. If they did have ‘probable cause’, they cannot detain someone without the accusation of wrong doing. Detaining someone without accusing them of a crime is illegal. Michael said, and I see no reason to doubt it, that the manager said he wasn’t accusing him of anything.

    At that point, the manager should have let him go.

    Ciao!

  55. Myrl Redding says:

    I commend you on standing up for our civil rights. Too many times people take the easy way out. While it is a huge inconvenience for you, it was the right thing to do. The lack of principles in this country makes me fear what is going to happen, and it reminds me of the poem “First they came…” by Martin Niemoller. And I too am tired of being treated like a criminal when shopping which is why I no longer shop at many department stores that have offended me by doing such. I look forward to seeing you vindicated.

  56. Joe in VA says:

    Michael,
    I applaud you for taking a stance. I’ve donated $20 to your defense fund. Keep us posted after the 20th! Listen to your lawyer and don’t get bullied into giving up ANY of your rights.
    Regards,
    Joe

  57. Tom Flannery Says:
    DOC:
    Try to follow:
    Scenario #1
    Criminal buys an item.
    Criminal returns w/ bag and old receipt and steals identical item.
    Criminal returns original stolen item.
    Why do you think places like Sams club put a mark on your receipt when you leave?

    CRIMINAL BUYS ONE, STEALS ONE. THEN CRIMINAL RETURNS ONE ITEM.
    THIS LEAVES CRIMINAL W/ ONE STOLEN ITEM AND NO OUT OF POCKET COSTS.

    IF RECEIPT IS CHECKED WHEN SECOND ITEM IS BEING STOLEN THE LOSS PREVENTION PERSON WILL SEE THE DISCREPANCY (time, marking, cashier, etc.) ON THE RECEIPT.

    I’ve been trying to follow. I don’t see where anything changes whether there is a door receipt checker or not; and the check mark makes no difference. Maybe it’s because I misunderstand your steps.

    I read your scenario as:

    Criminal buys item foo.
    Takes item foo home.
    Returns to store with bag and receipt in pocket.
    Finds item foo on shelf and puts item foo in back with receipt.
    Walks out of store with second item foo.

    How can this be distinguished from:

    Customer buys item foo.
    Leaves store.
    Forgets to buy item bar.
    Returns to store.
    Leaves store again (either with item bar, or without).

    The check mark is on the receipt in the bag inside the store in both cases.

    As I said, this is only to prevent the fraud where the cashier doesn’t ring up one or more items. It doesn’t help much for the (very very few) stores where the cashier can discount items at the register without manager approval, since it would mean that the receipt checker would have to know the cost of every item in the store.

    Ciao!

  58. Myrl Redding says:

    Tom,

    Of course CC has the right to prevent theft in their stores. However, they do not have the right to prevent someone from leaving without probable cause and the probable cause would be witnessing a crime. They did not witness a crime and therefore violated his rights.

    As for showing his identification, he did not commit a crime and proved it by showing the police officer the receipts. Therefore the police officer had no reason to request it. And according to Ohio law, MR did not have to provide it. The officer acted as an arm of the store and not in an arbitrary manner. That is the major issue here. The officer acted as an arm of CC and not as an impartial party.

  59. rox0r says:

    Just a quick question? How did he escalate it? IIRC, he was trying to get in his car and some dudes escalated it by illegally detaining his ENTIRE FAMILY!

    Most likely he didn’t want to give the cop his ID because the cop was still giving him a hard time after he proved that he didn’t steal anything. He most likely assumed the cop might bitch slap the people that were illegally detaining his ENTIRE family. And when the cop showed up and decided to take the side of the employees he might have gotten a little agrevated. Imagine that you call the police because a gang of kids are on your lawn threatening you and he yells at you for having a baseball bat in your hands. Do you think you might be a little ticked off and unwilling to cooperate? Why don’t the police believe the person that called them there???

    You are grasping for straws if you think he staged this. There are certain people out there that grow more of a backbone the more someone tries to push them around. This is most likely why he didn’t show the receipt after they illegally detained his entire family. Do the rest of you really cave under pressure to bullying by other people? So when someone wrongs your family you cave instead of growing some backbone?

    Jim B:
    ====
    “Look, it seems clear to me that the store didn’t really have the right to push things as far as they did. However, was the proper response to push the situation to the point where law enforcement needed to be called?”
    ====

    Did he push the situation or was he trying to resolve it? You must be one of those people that cave under bullying? Most likely he assumed like I do, that the employees were trained well enough to not break the law and that they wanted to stay employed.

    My predictions: if he sues CC people are going to lose their jobs. The criminal compliant is going to get thrown out because the DA is clogging our courts with bs.

  60. Myrl Redding says:

    Tom,

    It does not violate your rights for a store to ask to see your receipt. But being forced to do so, does violate your rights. Hope I cleared that up for you. ;)

  61. Tom Flannery:

    Since when did asking to see your receipt become a violation of rights?

    It isn’t; nobody said it was.

    The store’s violation of civil rights was illegally detaining someone.

    Show the store your goddamn receipt like every other customer that chooses to shop there and move on. If you don’t like it, don’t shop there. Doing so can eliminate the entire problem.

    No. No. It doesn’t eliminate the entire problem; it foists it off on someone else.

    Ciao!

  62. anon mouse says:

    Tom-

    For places like Sam’s Club/Costco: once you have paid for an item and have the receipt and item in your possession, the receipt is yours. You may legally dispose of the receipt as you wish. Eat it, put it in the garbage, whatever.

    Within this legal right, you also have a legal right to deface it with highlighters as you see fit. Say, by putting a smiley face on it, in a color that just happens to match the color-of-the-day used by the door checkers.

    Does the Sam’s Club agreement attempt to prevent you from writing in your receipt once you have it? That would appear to be a prior restraint of the press, a big Constitutional no-no.

    Enjoy your cheap prices; they’re paid for with your rights.

  63. Jason says:

    Wow, you’re going to waste all this time and Taxpayer’s money because you felt violated because you were asked for your receipt at the door. Had you just given your receipt and said have a nice day, you wouldn’t have scared your siblings, your dad’s license plate would not be on file with the police, and you would not have a record…but instead you felt it necessary to feel self-righteous and stand up for what you think is right. Good job, you get an A+ for pointless in my book. Although I am a big proponent to standing up for yourself, some people take it too far, and you sir have taken it too far.

    Were we talking about Nazi Germany and you were standing up for the rights of Jewish and other non-Aryan people who died in the concentration camps, I’d say good for you, were you standing up for the rights of those being killed every day in Darfur I’d say you were a great human being, but instead, you are standing up for your right to walk out of a Circuit City without having to stop (randomly I might add) to have your bags check as a security procedure. Which I might add has lowered the occurrence of Shoplifting at many stores and has kept those stores from having to raise prices to make up for those people who do shoplift.

    If you want to make such a difference in society and “make a stink” then why don’t you tackle some of the larger pressing issues of this world. Join the Army, become a politician, or make sweeping reform to our International Policy, but don’t sit and waste your time and our (the taxpayers) money on trivial garbage such as this, and it is garbage.

    I hope that the courts do find you innocent as it does appear you didn’t break any laws, but I hope no one donates to you and you end up paying for your lawyer fees and court fees out of pocket, it’s your own burden to bear brother and you only brought it upon yourself.

    Also, to all those other people who feel like I and others who disagree with Michael are “cows” and “sheeple”, I say wake up. This is how the world works. If nature has showed us nothing, it has showed that those who stray from the herd, are the first to be eaten, only in times of dire straights should we look for forge our paths anew.

  64. JF says:

    Tim:

    Get a clue. MR is standing up for the Brooklyn police department breaking the law to bully citizens around. The police officer arrested him illegally. He was not read any rights, nor was he informed what he was being charged with when he was arrested until later.

    Essentially, he was arrested for not obeying a command that the police officer had no authority to make. If a police officer demands me to show my breasts and I don’t can I then be guilty of obstruction. No, because he has no right to make that request.

    The fact that you can believe what you are stating is scary indeed.
    I’m starting to wonder if you are indeed nothing more then a FUD troll that was hired by CC or Brooklyn to post here.

  65. Myrl Redding says:

    Jim B.,

    Based upon my experiences at BB and CC, along with MR not being charged with theft, I can say they did not witness him commit a crime. So therefore they did violate his rights. It is Ohio and that is the Ohio law. Like it or not.
    It is not about sticking it to “The Man.” It is about brining awareness to others. And as I said before, the real issue here is that the police officer acted as an arm of CC. So if the officer did not act as an arm of CC, none of us would be here arguing over whether or not his rights were violated by not showing his receipt.

  66. Andrew says:

    Although I respect the fact that you are standing up to an unjust authority and breaking away from practices that have been falsely established as acceptable, I do think you should put yourself in the position of the store manager in this situation.

    Yes, Circuit City should not be allowing their employees to search the bags of their customers, even for theft-prevention purposes. However, is that really the fault of the store manager, or is that a policy of the company itself? (Mind you these are actual questions, I have no authority on the subject) If its the latter, then I believe you were simply being an uncooperative customer for no reason and were putting that guy’s job on the line for no reason other than to gain some attention on the internet.

    It’s the MANAGER’S job you are risking by doing this, and he was only doing the job he was required to do. Put yourself in his shoes. Think about the terrible time he must be having right now simply because he was doing the duties that his job entailed.

    The issue with the policeman is a different story and I wholeheartedly support you on that one.

  67. Myrl Redding says:

    Tom,

    Of course they will say that. I’m sure their attorneys will advise them to do so. But at the time did they? And if the only reason they suspected him of theft is because he did not so his receipt, that is not good enough. But again, the major issue is the police officer.

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