Criminal Trespassing Charges Dismissed Against Collins

Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross dismissed criminal trespassing charges against Rich Collins, WINA reports, and I couldn’t be more surprised about it.

Collins was arrested while campaigning for House of Delegates in May of last year after he refused to leave Shoppers World. He maintained that it was public property, while the complex’ manager begged to differ. Criminal charges were filed against him, and he filed a civil suit against the shopping center. Collins was convicted a year ago this month, much to his pleasure, since he hoped to appeal the case clear up to the Virginia Supreme Court and get the law changed. (The judge said that he’d have ruled in favor of Collins were he on the state’s highest court, but felt that his hands were tied at the level of his court.) He and his lawyers — from the ACLU and the Rutherford Institute — believe that private property that is provided for substantially public purposes, such as shopping centers, have an obligation to let people express themselves freely, given appropriate time, place, and manner requirements.

I’m certainly no attorney, but I believe that the ruling would need to be appealed by the Commonwealth’s Attorney (Jim Camblos, assuming that Shopper’s World is in the county) in order to proceed up the appeals chain. This, of course, is just the criminal case — I believe that the civil case is ongoing.

10:15pm Update: The Hook has more useful, complete information on their blog.

5 thoughts on “Criminal Trespassing Charges Dismissed Against Collins”

  1. Rich Collins is like a bulldog tearing at the pants of injustice. Local news would be a lot more interesting and fun if he had won that primary last year and become a Delegate.

  2. Way to go, Rich! Although I am more interested in the civil suit’s outcome, because that is what will effect future of free speech. With the Privatize Everything pogramme still holding sway in the halls of government, we will find all of our Constitutional rights whittled down to ineffectuality without a single Amendment passed.

  3. I think this is great. We should enforce our constitutional rights everywhere – even on “private” property.

    I legally carry a handgun all the time, but currently property owners have the “right” to post their property “no guns” if they like. Since the right to keep and bear arms is also a constitutional right, I think that this sort of case lays the groundwork to remove property owners legal ability to prevent me from beging legally armed.

    And yes I am serious. We can’t just apply this logic to some rights and not others, and some folks may not like that.

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