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Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Old 06-02-10, 07:12 PM
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Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Videotape a cop making an arrest...go to jail, possibly prison. Nope, not China, not Iran, but in three states in the USA. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland...will more states be next? Scary stuff.

http://gizmodo.com/5553765/are-cameras-the-new-guns

In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

The legal justification for arresting the "shooter" rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where "no expectation of privacy exists" (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

Massachusetts attorney June Jensen represented Simon Glik who was arrested for such a recording. She explained, "[T]he statute has been misconstrued by Boston police. You could go to the Boston Common and snap pictures and record if you want." Legal scholar and professor Jonathan Turley agrees, "The police are basing this claim on a ridiculous reading of the two-party consent surveillance law - requiring all parties to consent to being taped. I have written in the area of surveillance law and can say that this is utter nonsense."

The courts, however, disagree. A few weeks ago, an Illinois judge rejected a motion to dismiss an eavesdropping charge against Christopher Drew, who recorded his own arrest for selling one-dollar artwork on the streets of Chicago. Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler's license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

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Old 06-02-10, 07:16 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

These states are just itching to have their laws overturned by the Supremes.
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Old 06-02-10, 07:23 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

This is where the "if you have nothing to hide" crowd should chime in.
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Old 06-02-10, 07:32 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

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Old 06-02-10, 07:36 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
This is where the "if you have nothing to hide" crowd should chime in.
OK. If you have nothing to hide you shouldn't need to record the cops.
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Old 06-02-10, 07:41 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
This is where the "if you have nothing to hide" crowd should chime in.

OK. If the cops have nothing to hide, they shouldn't worry about people videotaping them in public.

I'm not surprised that three states that are such bastions of conservatism would restrict the public in such a way.
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Old 06-02-10, 07:43 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Both states I've lived in (Iowa and Minnesota) have the "one party must know of a recording" rule, which was great when I worked in news.

The simple fact is, if it's on a public street or within public view, it should be perfectly legal to record.
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Old 06-02-10, 08:09 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by crazyronin View Post
OK. If the cops have nothing to hide, they shouldn't worry about people videotaping them in public.

I'm not surprised that three states that are such bastions of conservatism would restrict the public in such a way.
So, what about the cop's dashboard cam? It would seem to be similarly illegal as the perp didn't consent. Similarly, all surveillance cameras. This "principle" would seem to quickly head downhill in a direction they wouldn't want to go.
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Old 06-02-10, 08:31 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by OldDude View Post
So, what about the cop's dashboard cam? It would seem to be similarly illegal as the perp didn't consent. Similarly, all surveillance cameras. This "principle" would seem to quickly head downhill in a direction they wouldn't want to go.
I guess that would fall under the definition of "in public." Unless the police were driving their cars into a perps house. That would be bad.
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Old 06-02-10, 09:04 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by OldDude View Post
So, what about the cop's dashboard cam? It would seem to be similarly illegal as the perp didn't consent. Similarly, all surveillance cameras. This "principle" would seem to quickly head downhill in a direction they wouldn't want to go.
In Maryland, at least, the prohibition is only on audio, not video, so surveillance cameras that don't record sound are legal.
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Old 06-02-10, 09:18 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Funny thing happened to me when I was in the ER today. I was videotaping a surgery, and the goddamn doctor said I couldn't videotape it and security threw me out. I screamed, "Hey, if you guys have nothing to hide, why can't I videotape y'all?!!!"

So, after being kicked out of ER, I proceeded down the street to a construction site and started videotaping some guys putting together a large section of a building. Way cool! But then they said I wasn't allowed to videotape them because I was on their property and I had to move down the street where it was safer. I mean, really, what the fuck? So, I leave.

Then, I see this mother and child and OH MY GOSH they were so cute! I started videotaping them. The mother calls the cops! I mean, what the fuck?

So, the cops come and I explain to them what's going on and FINALLY, I get a logical answer.

The cops say I can videotape them all I want because they're bad and everyone else is good.

Last edited by DVD Polizei; 06-02-10 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 06-02-10, 09:45 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

I think it's retarded that you can't record police in those places. We're public servants, it seems like a great (and fair) way to hold us accountable.

I've never cared for the "all parties must consent to recording rule." My state is an one party consent state, which makes more sense.
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Old 06-02-10, 11:26 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Why not have more video cameras placed in cities throughout the United States, in general? It would not only appease the Bad Cop crowd, but would appease people like me who think cameras in cities and suburban areas would reduce crime and allow for successful apprehension of offenders. For example, placing cameras at all neighborhood streets would reduce child abductions and would even lead to quicker apprehension due to a more detailed description and a tracking of the criminal throughout the city because the cameras would be linked.
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Old 06-03-10, 12:05 AM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by Duran View Post
In Maryland, at least, the prohibition is only on audio, not video, so surveillance cameras that don't record sound are legal.
Indictment by the State of Maryland

Tripp was a resident of Columbia, Maryland at the time she made her surreptitious recordings of the conversations with Lewinsky, and 49 Democrats in the Maryland Legislature signed a letter to the state prosecutor demanding that Tripp be prosecuted under Maryland's wiretap law.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_T...te_of_Maryland
I'm sure it wasn't political.
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Old 06-03-10, 11:30 AM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by CaptainMarvel View Post
I think it's retarded that you can't record police in those places. We're public servants, it seems like a great (and fair) way to hold us accountable.

I've never cared for the "all parties must consent to recording rule." My state is an one party consent state, which makes more sense.
Once again, a CM rant about how the police are always right and never abuse their power.
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Old 06-03-10, 07:06 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

I think Cato nails it here:

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2010/...d-wiretap-law/

Revise the Maryland Wiretap Law?

Posted by David Rittgers

As I said in this piece in the Baltimore Sun, Maryland police officers are misusing that state’s wiretap law to deter anyone who would film them performing their duties. Maryland officers have asserted that any audio recording of a conversation, even in a public place, is a violation of the state’s wiretapping law and a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Officers made this claim to deter filming of an arrest at the Preakness, and when motorcyclist Anthony Graber videotaped his traffic stop.

As Radley Balko points out, the officers’ reading of the law is out of step with the language of the statute itself and Maryland rulings interpreting the scope of the law. Is it time for a revision of this law, or is it just the officers’ interpretation that is the problem? I discussed this on the Kojo Nnamdi Show with the prosecutor pressing charges against Anthony Graber, State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly, and Graber’s lawyer, David Rocah of the Maryland ACLU.

If you ask some officers in Maryland, any recording of a conversation violates the wiretap statute. If you ask a judge, you will get an entirely different reading of the law. Even though Maryland’s wiretapping statute is considered a “unanimous consent” or “two-party consent” law, its language is different from other states put in the same category such as Massachusetts and Illinois. Where Massachusetts and Illinois have no protection for recordings of conversations outside of electronic means of communication, the first section of the Maryland wiretapping law restricts unlawful interceptions of “oral communications” to words spoken in a “private conversation.”

While the analysis for wire communications is made without regard to privacy, Maryland courts held in Fearnow v. C & P Telephone Co. that a “private conversation” is one where there is a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Fourth Amendment jurisprudence provides plenty of guidance on where a “reasonable expectation of privacy” exists. Simply put, a traffic stop on an interstate is not a place where Anthony Graber or the officers who cited him have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

This conclusion is bolstered by the guidance given to the Montgomery County Police by the Maryland Attorney General in this 2000 advisory opinion on recording traffic stops. Since 1991, the wiretapping statute had an exemption for police dash cameras where officers could record interactions with motorists when they warned the citizen that the traffic stop would be recorded. The 2000 letter addresses the possibility that other people could show up after the receipt of consent from a motorist and potential “inadvertent interceptions.” The opinion concludes that there is little for officers to worry about, but the state legislature expanded the law enforcement exception in 2002 to address this concern anyway. In a footnote, the advisory opinion makes the point that, in any case, the motorists being pulled over have no reasonable expectation of privacy:

"It is also notable that many encounters between uniformed police officers and citizens could hardly be characterized as “private conversations.” For example, any driver pulled over by a uniformed officer in a traffic stop is acutely aware that his or her statements are being made to a police officer and, indeed, that they may be repeated as evidence in a courtroom. It is difficult to characterize such a conversation as “private.”"

The Attorney General’s office provided further guidance on the issue in this letter to a state legislator in 2009, advising that surreptitious recording of a meeting of the Democratic Club would probably not be a violation of the Maryland wiretapping law because statements made in this setting lack a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

So, under the interpretation of the law supporting Anthony Graber’s prosecution, dash camera footage of Anthony Graber’s traffic stop is not a violation of the law, but Graber’s helmet-mounted footage is. The law enforcement officer, a public official performing public duties, retains a “reasonable expectation of privacy” on the side of I-95, but Anthony Graber has none. This is an assertion made contrary to the interpretation of the courts of Maryland, the Maryland Attorney General, and common sense.

This injustice could be resolved in several ways. First, as Radley suggests, the Maryland Attorney General could issue an opinion clarifying the wiretapping law with regards to recording police activity. Advisory opinions are not generally given sua sponte, so a state legislator or other official would have to request the AG’s interpretation. Second, Anthony Graber’s case may provide a rebuttal to an expansive reading of the statute by Maryland law enforcement officers. Third, the legislature could step in to deter future abuse of the statute by expressly stating that public discussions are not “private conversations.”

I discussed this on the Kojo Nnamdi Show with David Rocah and Joseph Cassilly. Rocah wants to preserve the “two-party consent” statute. The legislature, in fact, can clarify the definition of “private conversations” without changing the consent requirement of the law with regard to electronic communications.

On the other hand, State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly recalled occasions when citizens have come to his office with recordings of threats or extortion demands and he was required to tell them that under Maryland law (1) their recording was not admissible as evidence because it did not have the consent of the threatening or extorting party (though I see no reason that a letter with the same communication would be inadmissible); and (2) the victim of the threat or extortion committed a felony violation of the wiretapping law by making the recording in the first place. That may be the law, but it’s not justice.

In any case, the prosecution of Anthony Graber is an abuse of police power. If Maryland law enforcement officers continue to use the state’s wiretapping law to shield their activities from public view, the backlash may result in a revision of the law in its entirety.
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Old 06-04-10, 09:51 AM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by OldDude View Post
So, what about the cop's dashboard cam? It would seem to be similarly illegal as the perp didn't consent. Similarly, all surveillance cameras. This "principle" would seem to quickly head downhill in a direction they wouldn't want to go.

those are controlled so that the video is not edited. most of the crowd crap is highly edited before it hits youtube or the news
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Old 06-07-10, 05:17 AM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

I guess it's nice to live in California where you are legally required to videotape everyone and everything at every possible time.

No wait, it's not.
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Old 08-01-10, 02:32 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Jeez. If you think things are bad here, this is what happens if you try and videotape police in Sweden.

Do not click the link if you are squeamish.
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Old 08-01-10, 03:01 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

I see that Techno Viking joined the force (and got soft.)
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Old 08-01-10, 03:29 PM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

I wonder what prison is like.
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Old 08-02-10, 07:50 AM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei View Post
I wonder what prison is like.
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Old 08-04-10, 12:53 AM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler's license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.
So the defense can't bring up why he was filming in the first place, I believe. Jury hears he was filming a cop, a factual statement, and he gets prison time. I hate this kind of bullshit when prosecutors don't care about people's lives but only adding a win to their record. We're talking about someone being sent to state prison for at least four years over something that began over selling art on the street without a license.

Last edited by Breakfast with Girls; 08-04-10 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 08-04-10, 09:52 AM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls View Post
So the defense can't bring up why he was filming in the first place, I believe. Jury hears he was filming a cop, a factual statement, and he gets prison time. I hate this kind of bullshit when prosecutors don't care about people's lives but only adding a win to their record. We're talking about someone being sent to state prison for at least four years over something that began over selling art on the street without a license.
Bah, it is only 2 years w/ good behavior (plus loss of job). I am sure the jury will carefully consider the weight of the sentence in relationship to the seriousness of the crime.
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Old 08-05-10, 11:41 AM
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Re: Videotape a cop...go to jail?

http://www.time.com/time/nation/arti...008566,00.html
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