Judge Tosses Out Wiretapping Charges Against Motorcyclist Who Filmed Cop With Helmet Cam

from the good-news dept

Back in April, we wrote about the ridiculous case in Maryland, where an off-duty cop pulled a gun on a motorcyclist, and the whole thing was uploaded on YouTube. While the guy on the motorcycle probably was speeding, the cops later charged him with illegal wiretapping, because he posted the video with audio on YouTube. Through a very twisted interpretation of wiretapping laws, the police and courts have been claiming that any audio recording of police -- even in public places -- can violate wiretap laws. From a common sense standpoint, this is clearly nothing more than an attempt to punish people who expose questionable police activities.

Thankfully, in that case in Maryland, a judge has tossed out the wiretapping claims pointing out that there was no expectation of privacy out in public.
"Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public," the judge wrote. "When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation."
This seems so obvious that it's troubling it needed to even go this far.


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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    It is a damn shame that it had to go this far, but thankfully, this judge is sensible and did the right thing.

     

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    Skout, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:25am

    Wiretap this!

    I heard this on the radio this morning here in Baltimore. Thank goodness someone had some good sense. I suspect the police will try another tactic. I wonder if the guy will get his confiscated equipment back now?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:30am

    Cops are a-holes. Why would you expect cops to act any other way than like a bunch of a-holes?

     

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      PRMan, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:26am

      Re:

      I know a lot of cops and while power does corrupt, there are a lot of cops that are really good guys doing it for the right reasons. Unfortunately, there is a minority that makes them all look bad.

       

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        Beta (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:48am

        Three bushels of rotten apples make the whole barrel look bad.

        A minority? And what does the good majority do about the bad minority? Speak out against them? Arrest them? Turn them in to Internal Affairs? Is that kind of action commonplace and admired, or rare and despised?

        An officer who shields corruption and abuse of power is a bad one.

         

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          btr1701 (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:16am

          Re: Three bushels of rotten apples make the whole barrel look bad.

          > A minority? And what does the good majority do
          > about the bad minority? Speak out against them?

          I'm a cop and I've spoken out against this misuse of law in many different forums since the issue first arose.

          > Arrest them?

          Not sure what they could be arrested for. They operating under an official opinion from the Maryland Attorney General that this was a valid use of the law. Until the judge overruled it, there was certainly nothing criminal in following the guidance they'd been given by the state's chief law enforcement officer.

          If you think there's a charge that could be brought, feel free to cite it.

          > Turn them in to Internal Affairs?

          Same answer as "arrest them". How are you going to bring an IA case against a cop for following official AG directives?

           

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            Beta (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 4:31pm

            Re: Re: Three bushels of rotten apples make the whole barrel look bad.

            >I'm a cop and I've spoken out against this misuse of law in many different forums since the issue first arose.

            I'm very glad to hear that (although judging by your comments on the April 21st article, this wasn't one of those forums).

            PRMan did not seem to have been referring to this incident specifically, but even in this case the majority response from the police has been to close ranks. I'll happily eat my words if you can point me to a public statement by, I don't know, maybe the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association denouncing the decision to press charges as an abuse of the law. Until then you appear to be in the minority.

             

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        trilobug, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:00am

        Re: Re:

        Not to question the integrity of your friends in law enforcement, but there are many good cops that might as well be bad cops because they look the other way or don't report misdeeds done by other officers.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:18am

        Re: Re:

        I would say its the majority that make the minority look bad.

         

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          Berenerd (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I would go one step further and say its the majority that intimidate the minority from doing what is right. I know many good cops (I used to work with law enforcement people) and they didn't stand up directly because of fear of losing the job they needed and harassment from the other officers. many would "leak" stuff to the press and investigations would go off.
          On the flip side I know just as many A--hole cops that power trip and pull people over for BS reason and harass people just because they are different. its human nature.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 11:22am

        Re: Re:

        Ask around, everyone you know, find out how many people have had bad experiences with police vs. how many have had good experiences with police. Very few people I know would say that they have had a good interaction with the police, ever. Most of them could cite a bad experience and would be happy to tell you about it. I have yet to meet a 'good' cop, its like trying to find a unicorn.

         

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          Benji, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Because, you know, the cops are there to help you carry groceries to your car or something. People whine way too much about getting tickets and they project those negative feelings onto the cop. I've been on a good many ride-alongs and I can't count the number of times we've pulled people over driving like loonies and simply given them warnings. I'm sure 10 minutes later they're telling their buddies about that ass hat that pulled them over.
          I know a lot of good cops, I've only met a couple bad ones.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 1:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm not talking about getting pulled over while breaking the law. I'm talking about getting pulled over when you are *not* breaking the law, getting pulled from the car, searched, harassed and let go. I'm talking about cops doing absolutely nothing when presented with a real crime (other than a moving violation, a real felony) and presented with evidence of that crime. There are plenty of opportunities for cops to do the right thing that have nothing whatsoever to do with moving violations, its just that they don't. Why follow up on evidence, its probably nothing.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 2:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Thats a ridiculous argument given the nature of police work. MOST interactions with police are due to misbehavior on behalf of those policed, who will almost invariably hue and cry about how they were "just minding their own business". Get real.

           

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        weneedhelp (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Re:

        "there are a lot of cops that are really good guys doing it for the right reasons"

        They will still lie through their teeth for their "brothers".

        "there is a minority " From the cops I know 2 state, 4 local, and 1 Homeland Security guy... nah, the minority lies with the good ones.

         

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        KevInGV, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 5:38am

        Re: Re: Good Cops

        And it's a damned shame that those good cops ALLOW the bad cops to continue to infest and infect their ranks. The "Thin Blue Line" is complete BS.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    But ... but ... but ... Think of the children!!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:34am

    I think the best part is that he actually brought up the old quote "Who Watches the Watchmen?". Absolute genius on his part. I'd love to buy that judge a beer.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:36am

    This is a great result. I hope it stands up on appeal--if they even appeal it. It's kind of surprising that the judge was breaking new ground in Maryland with this decision. You'd think the courts would have already dealt with this issue, but apparently they hadn't. Score one for the good guys.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:37am

      Re:

      If they appeal this, they're going to look like even bigger assholes. If they have any sense at all, they'd let the ruling stand and teach their officers to identify themselves before they pull a gun on somebody.

       

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    quickbrownfox, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:37am

    Rodney King Beating

    If a brave citizen had not video-recorded the infamous Rodney King beating in 1993, the public might not have known about that sorry display of poor judgment by law enforcement officers. In the case against the motorcyclist, the judge made the right decision.

     

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      John Doe, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:50am

      Re: Rodney King Beating

      Huh? What the media didn't show until LA was burning was the first part of the video where RK was tazed a couple times and still got up to fight with the cops. The beating he got was excessive, but not nearly as excessive as the little clip the media showed initially.

       

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        Matthew (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re: Rodney King Beating

        It's interesting that you seem to think him getting tazed in addition to almost being beaten to death is somehow a mitigating factor.

         

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          BBT, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:26am

          Re: Re: Re: Rodney King Beating

          Talking about mitigating factors for Rodney King is strange even when make more sense. No mitigating factor, not even Mr. King urinating on their grandmothers while shooting at them and playing a Justin Beiber album, would justify the beating they showed. To claim that the video is somehow out of context doesn't make sense, since there's literally no context that would justify it.

           

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            btr1701 (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:22am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Rodney King Beating

            > No mitigating factor, not even Mr. King urinating
            > on their grandmothers while shooting at them
            > and playing a Justin Beiber album, would justify
            > the beating they showed.

            Actually, if he had been shooting at anyone, grandmother or not, they'd have been justified in killing him.

             

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              CommonSense (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 11:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Rodney King Beating

              Perhaps they'd have been justified in killing him, sure... But beating him to within an inch of his life is cruel and unusual, and there is absolutely no justification for it. Dance around it all you want.

               

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                btr1701 (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 11:57am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Rodney King Beating

                > beating him to within an inch of his life is
                > cruel and unusual

                It may be cruel, but it's far from unusual.

                 

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          Hiro Nogano (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:32am

          Re: Re: Re: Rodney King Beating

          He got tazed for resisting arrest after a high-speed persuit. Then he continued to resist. Yes the beating was excessive and wrong, but he deserved what came before it.

           

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          btr1701 (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:21am

          Re: Re: Re: Rodney King Beating

          > It's interesting that you seem to think him
          > getting tazed in addition to almost being beaten
          > to death is somehow a mitigating factor.

          Nice job of misconstruing what he wrote. I think it's quite clear that he was saying the mitigating factor was that King continued to fight back despite being tased and that the taser was having no effect.

           

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            John Doe, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Rodney King Beating

            Exactly what I was saying. The media portrayed it as he was beat for the hell of it. He resisted arrest, was tazed twice and still came after a female cop. So he got a good beating. More than he should have maybe, but not nearly as undeserved as the media portrayed it. But most people never let facts get in the way of a good mob.

             

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            Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 11:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Rodney King Beating

            "I think it's quite clear that he was saying the mitigating factor was that King continued to fight back despite being tased and that the taser was having no effect."

            That is absolutely not an accurate account of what occurred. The police actually acknowledged, and the tape verified, that the tazing HAD had an effect. They also continued hitting him once he was on the ground. It was also found that there was nothing to the rumor the police force was circulating that he had been abusing PCP, which was the basis for their saying the tazers weren't having the desired effect.

            Sorry, the cops acted horribly wrong in that case. King certainly was no saint, and he was endangering others by driving drunk. Once he was out of the car, that danger was gone. There was certainly no reason to hit the man with batons 56 freaking times before cuffing him. If the officers couldn't subdue him through normal means and cuff him, then they ought not be police officers....

             

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    Now I want to see one 3D camera in every court room, so people can see what it is going on on the courts and even archive those cases.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:04am

    the police and courts have been claiming that any audio recording of police -- even in public places -- can violate wiretap laws.

    Even their own recordings?
    Better get to work on Cable News too!!!

    Naa, you thugs in government want everything recorded; it IS going to apply to you also.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:08am

    yep, the full quote....

    "Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. 'Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes' ("Who watches the watchmen?”)." - Judge Emory A. Pitt Jr.

     

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    sehlat (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    John 3:20 pretty much summarizes it


    King James Bible
    For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.


    Let's face it, bullies with badges will always try to suppress evidence of their abuse of power.

     

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      PRMan, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:29am

      Re: John 3:20 pretty much summarizes it

      I know cops that like the constant dash-cam because the suspects can't lie through their teeth anymore.

      The ones that do their jobs honorably have no problem with it.

       

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    interval (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Good Call

    Some one in Philly buy that judge a beer.

     

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    Alias Undercover, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:33am

    Job was already done.

    Tossing the case doesn't reverse time and undo getting arrested. Take a picture of a cop and you get arrested, spend the night in jail, pony up bail, pony up for a lawyer, turn your life upside down defending yourself and later on get to answer that fun question "have you ever been arrested".

    The judge didn't do anything about the huge unjust penalty this person faced and still faces for committing no crime at all.

     

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      fogbugzd (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:43am

      Re: Job was already done.

      I hope the motorcyclist sues for malicious prosecution. This case would seem to be the very epitome of that concept. The guy was arrested because he embarrassed the government, even though it was obvious that what he was arrested for would never stand up in court.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:14am

      Re: Job was already done.

      The question you are thinking of is 'have you ever been CONVICTED of a FELONY.' To all other questions, you can reply 'no,' as it isn't any of their business. The felony question, in fact, is only relevant in certain industries, where the applicant might be responsible for cash, credit cards, checks, or valuable/dangerous inventory.

       

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        btr1701 (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:29am

        Re: Re: Job was already done.

        > The question you are thinking of is 'have you
        > ever been CONVICTED of a FELONY.' To all other
        > questions, you can reply 'no,' as it isn't any
        > of their business. The felony question, in fact,
        > is only relevant in certain industries, where
        > the applicant might be responsible for cash,
        > credit cards, checks, or valuable/dangerous
        > inventory.

        Not true. Appy for my job and you have to disclose any arrest/detainment/encounter with law enforcement you've ever had. I had to even document the speeding tickets I received when I was in high school and college, even though one of them was dismissed.

         

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          ltlw0lf (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

          Re: Re: Re: Job was already done.

          Not true. Appy for my job and you have to disclose any arrest/detainment/encounter with law enforcement you've ever had.

          And most agencies want a listing of every crime you have committed above traffic tickets that you didn't get caught for (such as prostitution, drug use/possession, theft, etc.) and most agencies perform some sort of validation (polygraph/VSA) to try to detect someone lying.

          In my opinion, this is a good thing, as the police officer is an extreme example of public trust as they have powers that can be abused more-so than any other public worker can. If a potential police officer isn't willing to come clean on crimes they got away with, they are probably going to continue doing them after they are sworn in. However, if there is one thing most cops don't like, it is a dirty cop; but unfortunately, like you said earlier, without proof that a cop is a dirty, they cannot really act on it.

          Now if only we could have our politicians subjected to the same process, since I see them as an example of public trust that can be abused more-so than other public workers can. The old adage, "How do you know a politician is lying? ...his mouth is moving!" seems far more accurate now-a-days with crooked senators getting caught taking bribes or committing other crimes and lying through their teeth for the sake of their paymasters.

           

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    cennis (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:36am

    Finally

    A judge who doesn't have his head up his ass...

     

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    Josef, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:40am

    Hmmmmm

    Well it makes sense that the judge would toss the wiretapping case out. What I cannot figure out after watching the video, is why the cops even pressed charges in the first place. Maybe they were testing the Streisand Effect.

    If the guy was speeding, which may have been the case, then its not unreasonable for an off-duty, out of uniform officer to pull his gun out when approaching a suspect. The cop didn't point his gun at the cyclist and he lowered the barrel after he announced that he was a state trooper. Posting the vid on youtube really didn't "highlight" any misconduct or abuse of power.

     

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      Richard (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:56am

      Re: Hmmmmm

      If the guy was speeding, which may have been the case, then its not unreasonable for an off-duty, out of uniform officer to pull his gun out when approaching a suspect.

      WHAT!
      To those of us who live in civilised countries, where the police are not routinely armed, pulling out a gun for a traffic violation seems way over the top and doing it without first announcing "armed police" seems like folly.

      If I had been the motorcyclist and if I had been armed myself (I do neither of these things - I like living too much!) my immediate reaction would have been to shoot the guy.

      If I were the police authorities then the policeman would have been suspended immediately, pending disciplinary action.

      A firearms officer in the UK would have his right to carry a gun revoked immediately if he had done what this cop did.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:16am

        Re: Re: Hmmmmm

        If the video is to be believed, then the motorcyclist was going fast enough for there to be serious legal consequences in most states in the US. That said, drawing the gun was a little extreme.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:23am

        Re: Re: Hmmmmm

        Just an example of the a-hole cop mentality. "Im gonna teach this guy a lesson". He should be fired.

         

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      RD, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:36am

      Re: Hmmmmm

      "If the guy was speeding, which may have been the case, then its not unreasonable for an off-duty, out of uniform officer to pull his gun out when approaching a suspect."

      Allow me to be the first to say...WAHT THE FUCK?? Are you KIDDING? Jesus Christ, really? According to you, its OK for a cop to pull a gun ON SOMEONE WHO *MIGHT HAVE BEEN* SPEEDING?? REALLY? I hope you arent an American, because if you are, you are a traitor to all that this country stands for. The next time you get pulled over, I hope to hell the cop IMMEDIATELY pulls his gun and shoves it in your face. Then we'll see how "justified" you think this kind of reprehensible behavior is.

       

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        Josef, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 2:07am

        Re: Re: Hmmmmm

        This needed a response:

        "Allow me to be the first to say...WAHT THE FUCK?? Are you KIDDING? Jesus Christ, really? According to you, its OK for a cop to pull a gun ON SOMEONE WHO *MIGHT HAVE BEEN* SPEEDING?? REALLY? I hope you arent an American, because if you are, you are a traitor to all that this country stands for. The next time you get pulled over, I hope to hell the cop IMMEDIATELY pulls his gun and shoves it in your face. Then we'll see how "justified" you think this kind of reprehensible behavior is."




        First of all, I am American, and one of the rare one's who has actually served in the military. I doubt you even understand the definition of treason. Please respond in detail and explain to us all how expressing an opinion makes me a traitor to what this country stands for.

        With that said, secondly I'm black and live in a major city. I think I can say that what that motorcyclist experienced was mild in comparison to what I've experienced on "routine" traffic stops. I seriously doubt that you have any concept of what reprehensible behavior from the police actually is.


        And as a side note for the Brit who lives in a civilized country (LOL). When I stop laughing at that comment, I'll respond.

         

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      Norm, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 2:42pm

      Re: Hmmmmm

      The point is not whether he pulled the gun or not. The cop pulled the gun without any indication that he was a cop. He was off duty in a personal car without any uniform. As far as the motorcyclist know, he could have been some madman with a gun.

      Someone already said it above, but in this situation, I think that if the cyclist was armed, he could have justifiably shot the cop.

       

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    Beef, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:29am

    Too much power, not enough accountability

    Just another example of how the U.S. is slowly turning into a "Police State"

     

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      Roland985, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 5:18pm

      Re: Too much power, not enough accountability

      In Western Australia, We already are a police state.
      The next 100 years is going to be hell if the world as we know it still exists...

       

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    bob, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 11:40am

    The more egregious

    Aspect was that although the police charged him with illegal wire tapping it's ultimately the prosecutor ie the district attorney who prosecutes the case.

    I suspect that the guy will now sue the city for this.

     

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      btr1701 (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 1:03pm

      Re: The more egregious

      > although the police charged him with illegal
      > wiretapping it's ultimately the prosecutor ie
      > the district attorney who prosecutes the case.

      Good point. Everyone's comparing this to the Rodney King case as an example of police misconduct, but the two cases have very little similarity to each other.

      The King case was an instance of cops clearly violating the law and dispensing a bit of street justice to someone they thought deserved it.

      In this case, the cops were not violating the law as it stood when the incident happened. They had the state attorney general's opinion that the law covered these types of citizen encounters, they had prosecutors telling them they'd prosecute the cases and issuing indictments, and they judges signing search warrants and arrest warrants based in support of this interpretation of the law.

      The only problem I saw with the police conduct in these cases is the selective enforcement of the law-- where they only chose to make an arrest when the citizen's recording portrayed them in a negative light. That sort of content-based restriction on speech cannot stand.

      The larger issue-- the blame for inappropriately applying this law in the first place-- I don't place on the police. They're not constitutional scholars. They're (usually) not lawyers. They shouldn't be held to those standards. No, the blame for that falls with the people who *are* lawyers and should have known better-- the judges, the prosecutors, and the attorney general himself.

       

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        Christopher (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 4:49pm

        Re: Re: The more egregious

        There comes a time where something is so outrageous, that you have to say that the cops should have KNOWN that they were applying a law wrongfully.... this counts!

        When that happens, the COPS should be blamed for bringing the charges in question.

         

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          btr1701 (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 5:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: The more egregious

          > When that happens, the COPS should be blamed for bringing
          > the charges in question.

          The police to don't bring charges against anyone. The police just make arrests. The district attorney brings the charges.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 11:46am

    They are pretty good at justifying whatever the hell they want to do.

     

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    Hurricane, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    Not surprising

    Actually this is a rare example of common sense. Cops all over the country have been using similar laws to prevent people from filming episodes of police actions. And generally judges and prosecutors have been backing the police.

    Which of course sets up an obvious hypocrisy. The authorities can record us without consent, "for our own good" but refuses to allow themselves to be recorded similarly. Looks at police interrogations; police have been resistant to having interrogations filmed. Why? Obviously to avoid any appearance of impropriety on their part.

     

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      btr1701 (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

      Re: Not surprising

      > Looks at police interrogations; police have been
      > resistant to having interrogations filmed.

      Not sure where you get that from. I always film my interrogations. It's shut down many a defense attorney's attempt to plant false insinuations with the jury about coercion, lack of Miranda, etc.

      And giving the jury the ability to watch the defendant confess in his own words on TV in the courtroom is a heck of a lot more powerful and persuasive than me just testifying to what he said.

       

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        Christopher (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 4:47pm

        Re: Re: Not surprising

        Ah, but a lot of cops don't want to do that because they use coercive methods to get confessions. Things that, while legal, would inflame the jurors and have them asking "HE DID WHAT!? NOT GUILTY!"
        Why? Because they had a reasonable assumption that with the interrogation methods used, the person could be coerced into saying they were guilty when they actually were not.

         

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 2:02pm

    it would've been a weird case

    if the cop had won.

    On the one hand, they expect us to buy it that we should have no expectation of privacy in public places, with all those cameras around us. and then, on the other hand, the police would have had an expectation of privacy in the same place?

    But I'm glad the judge made the, in my view, wise decision.

     

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    Haggie, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 2:27pm

    Any judge that is intelligent enough to know the ablative case of "forum" in Latin would know that this was a ridiculous charge that demanded a dismissal.

     

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    Christopher (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 4:45pm

    The cops hope that someone will not challenge these things

    And thereby they will stand in court. They are HOPING in cases like this that someone will settle so that it will become a 'precedent' and therefore will be damned hard to overturn at a later date.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:11pm

      Re: The cops hope that someone will not challenge these things

      Actually they hope to settle only so it will go away, as for creating precendent it would have no effect. Precedent requires a court decision.

       

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      btr1701 (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 5:44am

      Re: The cops hope that someone will not challenge these things

      > They are HOPING in cases like this that someone
      > will settle so that it will become a 'precedent'
      > and therefore will be damned hard to overturn
      > at a later date

      You can't "settle" a criminal case. The D.A. might give you a plea bargain for a lesser charge but that's not a settlement as the term is used in the legal profession. Only civil cases can settle.

      And even so, a plea-bargained case has absolutely no precedential value whatsoever. A person faced with being prosecuted for videotaping a cop and who then later plead out to a lesser charge would not set any precedent for future cases or make them harder to fight. Even trial court decisions have only very limited precedential value, mainly because trial court judges in most states only issue unpublished rulings, rather than published opinions. Only the published decisions of appellate courts are generally considered binding precedent.

       

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    Anonymous Howard, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 5:15pm

    great news

     

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