Author Topic: Court says public has right to video police in public places  (Read 1990 times)

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Court says public has right to video police in public places
« on: August 30, 2011, 01:35:49 PM »
A Boston lawyer suing the city and police officers who arrested him for using his cell phone to record a drug arrest on the Common won a victory today when a federal appeals court said the officers could not claim "qualified immunity" because they were performing their job when they arrested him under a state law that bars audio recordings without the consent of both parties.

In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the way Glik was arrested and his phone seized under a state wiretapping law violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights:

Quote
    The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative. It is firmly established that the First Amendment's aegis extends further than the text's proscription on laws "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, "the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw." ...

    Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting "the free discussion of governmental affairs."

The court noted that past decisions on police recording had involved fulltime reporters, but said the First Amendment does not apply just to professional news gatherers.

More here: http://www.universalhub.com/2011/court-says-state-law-banning-recording-police-offi

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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2011, 01:37:45 PM »
So here's my question: The First Amendment specifically references "The Press". Do members of the press have superior rights to individual private citizens? If we are reporting news, are we not "the press"?

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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2011, 01:40:45 PM »

So this is a FEDERAL ruling therefore applicable to all states?


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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2011, 01:43:23 PM »

So this is a FEDERAL ruling therefore applicable to all states?



Yes, the 1st Circuit US Court of Appeals. Left unchallenged it would affect national law. Legal challenges will no doubt be in the works.

Offline IronDioPriest

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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2011, 02:38:51 PM »

So this is a FEDERAL ruling therefore applicable to all states?



Yes, the 1st Circuit US Court of Appeals. Left unchallenged it would affect national law. Legal challenges will no doubt be in the works.

So far, I don't know of any instances of police prohibiting videotaping that were not based on either vague and misapplied wiretap laws, or simple police thugs claiming authority to prevent taping where no authority existed. They're either using the wiretap excuse, or just bullying people into shutting off cameras.

So who are they gonna appeal to? SCOTUS? A local police force is going to appeal to SCOTUS claiming that the appeals court got it wrong, and that citizens in fact do not have the right to videotape police in the line of duty?

I don't see how that case is made, based on the reckless and extra-legal nature of the police in all of these instances.
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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2011, 03:06:43 PM »
The other common charge is the "impeding an investigation" deal. There is some validity to this when someone gets right into the middle of an arrest or incident investigation with their camera. Police should have (IMO) the ability to detain someone who is interfering with the process, but it should done with discretion.

And I think that's the crux of the problem. Lack of judgment and discretion. All around. Part of this is fueled by the chicken vs. egg syndrome. Cops feel put upon by the public. They choose to limit liability by limiting recording. Conversely, the public feels that the police are increasingly hostile and confrontational with the public. They want to record to protect their rights against police abuse. Who started it? Don't know. Don't care.

I choose to start at a point of presumptive innocence. Even if you're stopped, even if the evidence is compelling, you are presumed innocent. Since it is happening in public and especially since the reasonable presumption is that the police are likely recording you, it is entirely reasonable to expect that you have the right to record as well.

Wiretapping laws assume that one or more parties to the recording are unaware of the recording, but that clearly isn't the case here. What is going on here is the public servant is objecting to being recorded. I don't think that presumption of privacy is correct.

Offline IronDioPriest

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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2011, 05:02:13 PM »
...And I think that's the crux of the problem. Lack of judgment and discretion. All around...

Like this video. Clearly, the citizen is rude, out of line, off-base, and goading the officer. On his own property.

But no law is broken, and the cops allowed themselves to be taken by the bait. Citizens cannot be arrested for bad judgment, only for breaking laws. Citizens can be stupid, cops cannot. Lack of judgment all around. But free people have to come down on the side of the stupid citizen.

Man Arrested for Filming Police from His Own Yard 1
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Offline Libertas

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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2011, 06:10:33 PM »
I doubt SCOTUS would review just one case, they'd most likely see if similar challenges work through other circuits and then take it up, so in that case the lower court ruling would be law of the land until the Supreme's rule otherwise.

And the concept of citizen-reporters is hardly new.  Back in our Founding days there was a lot of pampleteering...kind of like the bloggers and citizen-journalists of today looking to inform people of the goings on of public servants.

IMO a citizen on his own property not threatening anyone should be able to spout off to any public servant to their hearts content...free speech baby...and if the public servant cannot handle it, then I submit that servant is ill suited for public service.  The same concept should apply to groups on public property under the right of freedom of assembly.

People have to start reasserting their constitutional rights or they'll have no rights to worry about!  And courts need to start paying attention to these rights and put the burden of proof back on the state and not assume automatically that the state and its representatives are always right and the citizens are guilty until proven innocent.
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Offline BigAlSouth

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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2011, 07:54:11 PM »
. . . If we are reporting news, are we not "the press"?

Absolutely. The purpose served is to inform the public rather than the use of recording for a private matter. Anyone who serves to inform the public, either through social media, Youtube or blogging, is acting as a member of "the Press."
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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2011, 08:32:52 PM »
. . . If we are reporting news, are we not "the press"?

Absolutely. The purpose served is to inform the public rather than the use of recording for a private matter. Anyone who serves to inform the public, either through social media, Youtube or blogging, is acting as a member of "the Press."

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Re: Court says public has right to video police in public places
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2011, 10:21:04 PM »
. . . If we are reporting news, are we not "the press"?

Absolutely. The purpose served is to inform the public rather than the use of recording for a private matter. Anyone who serves to inform the public, either through social media, Youtube or blogging, is acting as a member of "the Press."

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