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Court ruling allows patdowns to resume at Bucs games

TAMPA — The three-year tug-of-war over security patdowns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games continued this week, with the Tampa Sports Authority winning the right to resume the practice in upcoming games.

About a week after a judge for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion delaying the patdowns, a panel of three judges from the same circuit reversed that ruling.

Tampa Sports Authority attorney Richard Zabak said the federal district court in Tampa still needs to abandon an injunction against the patdowns before the stadium can enact the security measure the NFL requires at its 32 stadiums. Zabak filed a motion asking the court to act quickly since the team is already three games into the season.

Barbara Casey, a Sports Authority spokeswoman, said fans could face security patdowns as early as Oct. 12 against the Carolina Panthers. Logistically, the Sports Authority couldn't set up for patdowns fast enough before next week's game against the Green Bay Packers, Casey said.

Raymond James Stadium is the only NFL stadium that does not hand-screen fans. The court battle over patdowns began after high school civics teacher and Bucs season-ticket holder Gordon Johnston sued the stadium, saying patdowns violated his Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizures.

Johnston had been considering appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but now his attorneys are reviewing all their options, having taken a step back.

"We were disappointed that the stay was lifted," said John Goldsmith, one of Johnston's attorneys.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

Court ruling allows patdowns to resume at Bucs games 09/24/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 26, 2008 2:02pm]
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