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Appeals court hears patdown arguments

Published April 18, 2007



The Tampa Sports Authority urged a federal appeals court in Miami Tuesday to reinstate patdown searches at Tampa Bay Buccaneers football games, arguing that they provide an essential layer of security in an age of constant terrorism threats.

At least two of the three judges on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel appeared sympathetic to the searches, with Senior Judge Peter T. Fay asking during oral arguments if a terrorist attack had to occur first before such steps are taken.

"So there's got to be an explosion at some stadium? What would it take?" Fay asked.

The panel is considering an appeal by the Sports Authority, a governmental board that owns and operates Raymond James Stadium, where the Buccaneers play.

The patdown searches, which are NFL policy at stadiums nationwide, were halted for Buccaneers games after high school civics teacher and season ticket holder Gordon Johnston challenged them as unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore in July upheld a state court ruling that the patdowns violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Tampa is the only NFL city where the patdowns have been successfully challenged in court.


MOSQUE ARSON REWARD: The reward for tips leading to an arrest in the arson at the Islamic Education Center of Tampa has jumped to $12,500. Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and the state fire marshal announced the added reward. A gasoline-fueled fire scorched the interior of the Town 'N Country mosque Thursday. Tips can be reported to the FBI at (866) 838-1153. Callers may remain anonymous.

STEELE JURY SELECTION: Attorneys in the first-degree murder trial of Alfredie Steele Jr. finished the first round of juror questioning Tuesday, sending many potential jurors home because they already knew too much about the case. Of the original pool of 140, 75 now remain. Steele is accused of killing veteran Pasco sheriff's Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison, who was shot on patrol outside a Trilacoochee nightclub on June 1, 2003. Steele could get the death penalty if convicted.

CHARTER SCHOOL VOTE: Two charter schools will have to wait another week to learn their future. The Pasco School Board delayed action Tuesday on plans to expand the Athenian Academy and to close the Language Academy because two board members were out of town. "(They are) serious issues and if we made a decision to do what the superintendent recommends and there's an appeal, it would seem not as good if there (were) five members there," chairwoman Marge Whaley explained.

[Last modified April 18, 2007, 02:54:56]

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