Good News From the Court

I find it insane that this law passed in the first place:

The Supreme Court has rejected an Illinois prosecutor’s plea to allow enforcement of a law aimed at stopping people from recording police officers on the job.

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that found that the state’s anti-eavesdropping law violates free speech rights when used against people who tape law enforcement officers. The law sets out a maximum prison term of 15 years.

Good.






106 replies
  1. 1
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Yay! That law was definitely a police-state POS, so I’m glad it got torpedoed.

  2. 2
    r€nato says:

    Max sentence of 15 yrs? Jesus.

  3. 3
    Maude says:

    That law was like something from the 1960’s and J. Edgar Hoover.

  4. 4
    Brandon says:

    FOP, that’s why.

    A lot of jurisprudence is set up on the notion of expectation of privacy. I wouldn’t mind if that law were to be upheld, but it would need a court ruling of broad application to establishes an expectation of privacy for everyone in public spaces. Wonder how the FOP would react to limiting of police powers should that type of rule pass though.

    Everyone seems to think that they deserve special treatment and that rules only apply to other people.

  5. 5
    burnspbesq says:

    Don’t get complacent; this issue is far from resolved. There are similar statutes on the books in a number of states, and the denial of cert, in and of itself, has no precedential value.

    The Seventh Circuit ruling that the Supremes left in place is controlling authority only in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

  6. 6
    red dog says:

    Once you leave your home and are in a place with public access then you have no expectation of privacy. Like the flasher at a kids playground or sex in the backseat, both of which this same cop would arrest your for.

  7. 7
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Maude:

    That law was like something from the 1960’s post-1956 Soviet Union and J. Edgar Hoover Nikita Khrushchev.

    Fixt, with the post-1956 qualifier only because they wouldn’t have even bothered putting it in the Soviet Penal Code under Stalin.

  8. 8
    cmorenc says:

    @Brandon:

    A lot of jurisprudence is set up on the notion of expectation of privacy. I wouldn’t mind if that law were to be upheld, but it would need a court ruling of broad application to establishes an expectation of privacy for everyone in public spaces.

    Um…have you really thought through the implications of the sight lines through public spaces being subject to individual privacy rights? Especially a public official going about public business? Admittedly, reservations about recognizing such a right make it more messy and difficult to distinguish any claim of privacy or other 4th Amendment based rights with respect to tracking of movements or surveillance of your person while in public spaces. But upholding a statute such as the one in question also makes it forbiddingly difficult to monitor and prove misconduct against abusive police and practices.

  9. 9
    Mnemosyne says:

    I will freely admit that I would not want anyone filming me at my job, because I spend way too much of the company’s time doing stuff like commenting on Balloon Juice. But the company I work for doesn’t issue deadly weapons to me and have me interact with the public as part of my job. Once your job description includes “could seriously injure or kill a member of the public as a result of a routine interaction,” I think the privacy bar goes up much higher.

  10. 10
    gbbalto says:

    We had a similar case here in MD in 2010 with a citizen videotaping his own traffic stop facing up to 16 years. The judge immediately threw the case out with a bounce, saying the person was acting entirely within his rights. The State AG issued a written opinion that the MD law does not apply to recording law enforcement officers in public, so hopefully we will see no more of this here.

  11. 11
    handsmile says:

    But on the other hand, the Supremes do this:

    The Supreme Court on Monday arranged for a Virginia university to go forward with new challenges to two key sections of the new federal health care law — the individual and employer mandates to have insurance coverage. The Court did so by returning the case of Liberty University v. Geithner (docket 11-438) to the Fourth Circuit Court to consider those challenges. The Court last Term had simply denied review of Liberty University’s appeal, but on Monday wiped out that order and agreed to send the case back to the appeals court in Richmond for further review.

    http://www.scotusblog.com/2012.....ore-155562

    I’ll wait for the many lawyers and wannabes around these parts to weigh in on how loud the alarm should be (or even if it should be turned on).

  12. 12
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    @Brandon:

    I wouldn’t mind if that law were to be upheld, but it would need a court ruling of broad application to establishes an expectation of privacy for everyone in public spaces.

    If you feel that this law should be upheld, then you have little or no understanding of how the police force actually operates in this country. Which is fine: it’s a good thing to have never been on the wrong end of a cop’s bad day! That said, if you’ve ever seen the contempt and hatred with which many police treat the people they “serve”, you’d understand how horrible these laws are.

    There are tons and tons of good cops out there – they might outnumber the bad ones ten-to-one. But whenever battle lines are drawn between bad cops and civilians, good cops always always ALWAYS side with the bad cops over the civvies.

  13. 13
    trollhattan says:

    @handsmile:
    They should first review the legality of calling Liberty a “university.”

  14. 14

    This just in:

    Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law
    __
    Former GOP chair, governor – both on outs with party – say voter fraud wasn’t a concern, but reducing Democratic votes was.
    __
    A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.
    __
    Republican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former GOP chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose: GOP victory.
    __
    Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
    __
    “The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.

    I hope Eric Holder investigates this. I want some assholes thrown in jail.

    That last sentence should not be in the blockquote, BTW. Don’t know why it is. Fucking WordPress.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    @cmorenc:

    It’s tricky, though, because right now it’s legal in a lot of states to shove a camera under someone’s skirt and take a picture of her crotch because, hey, she’s in a public place and she should have expected that to happen.

    At a minimum you should be allowed to have a private sphere inside your clothes in a public place, even if that means the police aren’t allowed to frisk someone for looking suspicious.

  16. 16

    Okay whew fixed my comment. That was odd.

  17. 17
    cmorenc says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Don’t get complacent; this issue is far from resolved. There are similar statutes on the books in a number of states, and the denial of cert, in and of itself, has no precedential value.
    The Seventh Circuit ruling that the Supremes left in place is controlling authority only in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

    Denial of cert by SCOTUS can mean any or a combination of several things:
    1) fewer than four justices (the required number to grant cert) think the time is yet right to rule on the central issue;
    or:
    2) fewer than four justices think the particular configuration of the immediate case are sufficiently optimal to soundly shape new law in this area;
    or:
    3) five or more justices would prefer to let the various lower courts decide several more cases on this issue before deciding which approach SCOTUS should adopt, even at the risk of leaving the law unsettled and divided by circuit for a time.
    or:
    4) five or more justices feel the court already has enough difficult issues on its hands for this particular term, and would rather kick it down the road to another term, another case.

    TRUE the Seventh Circuit’s decision is binding only within its circuit. Nevertheless, other circuits will regard it as influential authority they need to consider in similar cases, either to adopt the same approach, or to explain why they reject or feel it necessary to modify their approach. So it’s hardly worthless in other circuits, even though it’s no guarantee they’ll decide a similar case the same way on the law or the facts.

  18. 18
    Cermet says:

    The enemy ‘is’ the uncontrolled power of DA’s and their vile followers – Cops. WE as a country once had DA’s and especially Cops that served the people but now, thanks to our insane drug laws, and also the fear of the 0.01% of the masses that provide them cheap labor, these servents have become Nazi-like thugs.

  19. 19

    Some Supremes better be submitting their walking papers soon.

  20. 20
    Steve says:

    I like the result, but the Seventh Circuit’s logic didn’t make much sense to me. Making it a free speech right is equivalent to saying that all two-party recording statutes are unconstitutional. Maybe they ought to be, but I don’t think the court really thought through the implications of its ruling.

    You could recognize a narrower right, like the right to record public officials doing their duty. I don’t know if that would fit into the free speech category, though. Maybe future cases will help sort this out.

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cermet:

    WE as a country once had DA’s and especially Cops that served the white people

    Sorry, had to do a quick fix. The arbitrary bullshit that we’re all being subjected to by cops is the exact same bullshit that African-Americans and Latinos have been subjected to for decades now. People are only noticing that it’s a problem now because middle-class white people are being treated the same way that minorities were always treated.

  22. 22
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    It’s tricky, though, because right now it’s legal in a lot of states to shove a camera under someone’s skirt and take a picture of her crotch because, hey, she’s in a public place and she should have expected that to happen.

    Where is this legal? I’ve had juvenile clients convicted for that very act. I had one convicted because the State contended he was the one who “distracted” a teacher with a question so another student could snap the photo, and the judge bought it.

  23. 23
    cmorenc says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It’s tricky, though, because right now it’s legal in a lot of states to shove a camera under someone’s skirt and take a picture of her crotch because, hey, she’s in a public place and she should have expected that to happen.

    Shoving a camera up another person’s clothes is not legal conduct in ANY U.S. jurisdiction I’m aware of. The area underneath a person’s clothes which they have thereby protected from public view (but for nonconsensual invasive manipulation of the sort you pose) is private space under current law, even when in a public space. OTOH, if a person leans or sits in a manner such that e.g. the nipple on their breast or their bare genital area is exposed from an ordinarily accessible public vantage point while the subject is themselves in a public place…that is generally legal. But that’s because the person has exposed their private parts in a public place through no invasive contact or manipulation by the person taking the picture.

  24. 24
    The Moar You Know says:

    Even this Court, possibly the most pro-police and pro-prosecutor that’s ever existed, found this a bridge too far.

    Cold comfort is still comfort, I guess.

  25. 25
    Cassidy says:

    The enemy ‘is’ the uncontrolled power of DA’s and their vile followers – Cops. WE as a country once had DA’s and especially Cops that served the people but now, thanks to our insane drug laws, and also the fear of the 0.01% of the masses that provide them cheap labor, these servents have become Nazi-like thugs.

    And this is why a lot of you guys can’t have a decent conversation on this topic. Most cops are decent people trying to make a living like everyone else. Most of them are pretty good at what they do. Lumping all of them together because some of them suck says more about your ignorance than anything else.

  26. 26
    quannlace says:

    t’s tricky, though, because right now it’s legal in a lot of states to shove a camera under someone’s skirt a

    I think he’s being snarky about paparazzi.

  27. 27
    handsmile says:

    @trollhattan:

    The school’s motto is “Knowledge Aflame.” Though that does raise the question what particular kinds of knowledge is in flames. Also too, the school seal appears to be a burning building; a bush being too obvious, I guess.

  28. 28
    jibeaux says:

    I will relate the following anecdote about cops. I am a white female mom who does not look particularly “suspicious” or drug addicted or anything like that, in my opinion. And in 2 out of 2 cases in which I have filed a police report for theft, the cops clearly, patently, obviously, did not believe me. One, without leaving the squad car, refused to believe that my house had been broken into. I told him that if he’d care to exit the squad car, I could show him the shoeprint and busted door frame of the back door. In that county I knew someone in a supervisory capacity and reported him. The second refused to believe that my car had been stolen out of my driveway, and insisted that it had either been repo’d or I’d left it somewhere after a bender or something. The car was later recovered in another town with the steering column ripped apart. I’m not sure what the point is except that if I can’t get cops to trust me when I haven’t done anything wrong, then I don’t trust them. If I had had the presence of mind to tape record all the aspersions they cast at me, I would’ve done it, and I will if I call them in the future.

  29. 29
    rlrr says:

    @handsmile:

    LU’s nickname is “Flames”…

  30. 30
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    Most cops are decent people trying to make a living like everyone else. Most of them are pretty good at what they do.

    I deal with a lot of cops, and you’re right. And quite a few have told me they like having the dash-cams in their cars, so they don’t have to deal with people accusing them of intimidation or excessive force. I’ve asked a couple if that extends to people taking, for instance, cell-phone videos, and the answer’s usually “Yeah, so long as the guy’s not being an a-hole about it.”

  31. 31
    rikyrah says:

    I call them the ‘ Rodney KIng’ laws.

    No Black male should be driving around without a camera of some sort.

    Yes, a generalization..

    But, I’ve been Black in America longer than 3 days, and I have a healthy suspicion of the police.

  32. 32
    Roger Moore says:

    @Cermet:

    WE as a country once had DA’s and especially Cops that served the white people but now, thanks to our insane drug laws, and also the fear of the 0.01% of the masses that provide them cheap labor, these servents have become Nazi-like thugs treat everyone the way they used to treat minorities.

    FTFY.

  33. 33
    👽 Martin says:

    @handsmile:

    I’ll wait for the many lawyers and wannabes around these parts to weigh in on how loud the alarm should be (or even if it should be turned on).

    My read is that it’s shouldn’t be turned on.

    Liberty’s argument was/is that the mandate violates their freedom of religion. The court will remind Liberty that the health insurance is compensation, and therefore is ‘owned’ by the employee. Liberty can no more restrict what the employee does there than they can restrict how the employee spends their paycheck.

    The other argument is that the individual mandate violates freedom of religion by forcing people to pay for other people’s abortions. Unless they can trace individual dollars, that’s going nowhere. Once you pool money – whether through insurance or taxation – then you lose the right to how its used, and you also lose responsibility for how it’s used. Presumably any abortions only come out of premiums paid by the people that got the abortions. Problem solved!

    It’ll go nowhere because the implications of upholding it would be catastrophic. Could Muslims sue the federal government because their tax dollars went to a TANF recipient who bought bacon? There’d be no end of it.

  34. 34

    It’s funny; people who are doing bad things never want anybody to film them. Now, I guess that’s fair enough if some guy is plotting some crime in his own house. Even if he’s conspiring to knock over a filling station or kill somebody, nobody should be willing to let police peek randomly into everybody’s windows in the hope of catching a crime happening.

    But if you’re out in the world, where anybody can look at you, and even more if you work for the government–read us, all of us, citizens–and you have a gun strapped to your belt, then I’ll feel a hell of a lot better if these guys know somebody might be filming them if they feel like beating up somebody being “uncooperative” while they talk to them.

  35. 35
    BGinCHI says:

    Forget about it Jake, it’s Illinois.

    The cops here come in two flavors: excellent and fascist.

  36. 36
    burnspbesq says:

    @handsmile:

    I think Liberty’s arguments are crap. But I thought, and continue to think, that the plaintiffs’ arguments in NFIB v. Sibelius were crap, and that case turned out to be a much closer call than it ever should have been.

    Let’s see what the Fourth Circuit does before we start reaching for panic buttons.

  37. 37
    catclub says:

    @Cassidy: “Lumping all of them together because some of them suck says more about your ignorance than anything else.”

    I think you missed the post that observed that whenever it comes down to actually testifying, in any cops versus civvies conflict, all the good cops still support the bad ones. Rumor has it that perjury may even take place.

    How to unlump, I do not know.

  38. 38
    LanceThruster says:

    I had the Sheriffs Dept advise me that a way to deal with a noise disturbance issue with the neighbors was to record it. They informed me that the only restrictions were the recordig of govt buildings (post 911), and intrusive long lenses to peep through gaps in curtains and the like. My neighbor insisted that I stop filming because his kid was a minor, but I said it’s what the sheriff suggested to me to deal with them.

    The most recent time I had a run-in with them, his kid was taping me with his camera phone just to be annoying. My first urge was to cause a little mayhem (but thought better of it), and instead gave a point by point indictment of why this family were total a-holes. The best line was when the father said I was harrassing him by calling him an a-hole. I denied and he said he had it on tape. I said if you play it back, you’ll see I called you a “fvcking 4sshole!”

    I hope the kid puts it up on YouTube.

    xD

  39. 39
    👽 Martin says:

    Things you never expect to read:

    A Florida man who died in October after eating dozens of live cockroaches in a contest to win a python died by choking, officials have said.

  40. 40
    rb says:

    Can anyone local to or with knowledge of MA comment on where we stand with our similar (I think) law? My understanding is that we are one of the worst in the nation on this, that recording police on duty can get you a felony charge. But I’ve got zero actual legal knowledge.

  41. 41
    Arclite says:

    @r€nato:

    Max sentence of 15 yrs? Jesus.

    That was my thought. What is this, communist China?

  42. 42
    LanceThruster says:

    For the record, I think Congress shoud have a dash camera running on their heads during all workig hours. If they’re not doing anything wrong, why would they object? They gave the green light on putting us under the microscope as they deemed necessaruy using he same logic.

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:

    @J.D. Rhoades:
    @cmorenc:

    As far as I can tell from this article, at a minimum it’s legal in Washington state, Oklahoma and Indiana to sneak a camera under a woman’s skirt in a public place and take a picture without her knowledge or consent. JD, your case doesn’t count because a school is not a public place — if your student had been caught doing the same thing on a city bus or in a public park, he wouldn’t have been prosecuted.

  44. 44
    Itinerant pedant says:

    @Mnemosyne: This. I once utterly shut up a conservative of my acquaintance, when he told me that I was holding police to a higher standard. I said, “They have guns and can under certain circumstances shoot people. Hell yes, I hold them to a higher standard. Why shouldn’t I?”

    He had no answer, then or ever.

  45. 45
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @handsmile:

    the school seal appears to be a burning building

    A Thomas Kinkade design, I assume.

  46. 46
    LanceThruster says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Things you never expect to read without laughing:

    FTFY

    xD

  47. 47
    different-church-lady says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: In Soviet Russia, party film you.

  48. 48
    Jay C says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Why wouldn’t you expect to read something like this? It’s Florida…..

  49. 49
    japa21 says:

    @Itinerant pedant: And keep in mind, these are the same people who love to show recordings of public workers slouching on the job.

  50. 50
    Cassidy says:

    @catclub: I dind’t miss it. I think it’s bullshit to be honest and happens more in the imagination than in real life. Secondly, I think people here have unrealistic expectations. Our justice system requires evidence and that goes for cops too. Every cop knows who the shitty and corrupt ones are, but having evidence of that? That’s completely different.

    That being said, yes they are an insulated population, much like the military, and their is a systemic problem of a them vs. us mentality. Again, I think you need to step back and look at it more objectively. Who’s the bad guy in the local budget battles? The cops, firefighters, and other public servce workers. Everyone wants to cops to show up when they call, but no one wants to vote to pay an extra five cents on thier property taxes to properly fund them. They’re as overworked and understaffed as the rest of us.

    So, again, they’re just as overworked as the rest of us and they need to make a living and have a pension/ retirement like the rest of us, but you think they should sacrifice all that so that they can accuse people of wrong doing when they more than likely don’t have the necessary evidence to do so? I want to see you do that.

  51. 51
    Schlemizel says:

    In my time as a firefighter (what normal people would call ‘volunteer’ but they like ‘part-paid’) I dealt with a lot of cops. In talking to them I get the impression most were pretty decent enough guys & gals. But there was one common trait I discovered in every LEO I ever shot the breeze with that I found disturbing. They divide the world into 3 parts, crooks, sheep and cops. How they responded to you depended upon which group they thought you belonged in. Even as a firefighter I was not inside the velvet rope of cop-dom ergo I was either a sheep or a crook.

    I assume this is an occupational hazard, along with assuming everyone is a liar.

  52. 52
    Cassidy says:

    @Schlemizel: Personally, I’m looking forward to getting hired on to a service then doing Guns and Hoses. Got climb my first aerial ladder last week, btw, 7 stories up. I don’t think I’ve ever been more terrified.

  53. 53
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    @Cassidy:

    So, again, they’re just as overworked as the rest of us and they need to make a living and have a pension/ retirement like the rest of us, but you think they should sacrifice all that so that they can accuse people of wrong doing when they more than likely don’t have the necessary evidence to do so? I want to see you do that.

    I tend to be really hard on cops, but I agree with you broadly – good cops tend to side with bad cops, but it has more to do with the brotherhood culture and a series of incentives that are completely out-of-whack than them being secretly bad people. There’s a phrase for good cops who try to fix things: “former police officers”.

    Change has to come from outside, which is why I believe striking down any and all “video-taping cops is a felony” laws absolutely must happen.

  54. 54
    TooManyJens says:

    @👽 Martin:

    The other argument is that the individual mandate violates freedom of religion by forcing people to pay for other people’s abortions. Unless they can trace individual dollars, that’s going nowhere. Once you pool money – whether through insurance or taxation – then you lose the right to how its used, and you also lose responsibility for how it’s used. Presumably any abortions only come out of premiums paid by the people that got the abortions. Problem solved!

    Also, there’s the fact that nobody is required to buy a plan that covers abortions, because each exchange has to include at least one plan that doesn’t.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cassidy:

    Depends on where you live. Los Angeles is notorious for having set up the first militarized police department with a strong “it’s us against them, and anyone not a police officer is automatically one of them” attitude, and a lot of other cities in the West followed suit.

    As I said above, the only difference between LAPD 1952 and LAPD 2012 is that today’s LAPD feels free to treat everyone as an enemy, not just minorities.

  56. 56
    Cassidy says:

    @FormerSwingVoter: I agree totally. I also agree with the sentiment that cops should be held to a higher standard of behavior as “protectors” of society. I just think people sometimes forget we’re dealing with normal people with an abnormal profession.

    Something else I think us liberals need to consider, and I could be wrong about this, but it seems to me that the police and fire unions are the last big unions. If we don’t support them and they get broken, do we have any major labor left? I know where I’m at, the Police Union tells the city to shove it all the time. This has affected hiring and being understaffed, and I think directly leads to the persecution of MJ, but our cops are decently paid and haven’t had their pension stolen.

  57. 57
    trollhattan says:

    @LanceThruster:
    Sort of ironic he was competing for a snake that would have eventually tried to choke him.

    Also, too, you can still buy and/or die trying to win pythons in Florida? The joint is being overrun by “escaped pet” pythons.

  58. 58
    Jay S says:

    @Mnemosyne: Your article appears poorly researched. Since I’ve seen a number of arrests for up skirt photography here in WA, I was pretty sure it was wrong. Low and behold, the legislature amended the statute after the 2002 Supreme court ruling.
    See this reference for example.

  59. 59
    David in NY says:

    @handsmile:

    I’ll wait for the many lawyers and wannabes around these parts to weigh in on how loud the alarm should be (or even if it should be turned on).

    Two points: the action of the Supremes was basically automatic, a no-brainer. The decision below was wrong (under NFIB v. Sibelius), and so it had to be vacated and remanded. It means nothing, except Liberty should have a chance to have the case heard on the merits.

    Second, like others above, I’ve no very good idea whether the the underlying religion-based argument has any merit, but from what I know (based on discussing the religion clauses with high-schoolers), I rather think not. But five justices have shown their determination to adopt a lot of sketchy arguments that lean right (see Bush v. Gore, NFIB itself in the commerce area, etc.), so you can’t count politics out as a factor.

  60. 60
    Mandalay says:

    @FormerSwingVoter:

    There are tons and tons of good cops out there – they might outnumber the bad ones ten-to-one. But whenever battle lines are drawn between bad cops and civilians, good cops always always ALWAYS side with the bad cops over the civvies.

    Not so sure about that, and how do you know that anyway?

    For example, are you seriously claiming that all cops in an internal affairs division would “ALWAYS side with the bad cops over the civvies”?

    Also, aren’t the “good” cops who will (according to you) ALWAYS side with “bad” cops actually “bad” cops themselves? So we have no good cops at all!

    And is it truly the case that no cop has EVER testified against another cop? We only need a single example to disprove your “ALWAYS” assertion.

    As is frequently the case on BJ, the urge to summarize a complex situation in a single sentence doesn’t fly. There are not just “good” cops and “bad” cops any more than there are just “good” BJ posters and “bad” BJ posters (or any other category of people you care to select).

  61. 61
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @cmorenc: But unlike a ruling with dissenting and concurring opinions, we don’t know for sure what the individual judges think. It finalizes the judgment within a circuit, but it’s not really enough to base future conduct on, especially if you’re a police state apologist legislator and are looking to toe the line.

  62. 62
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    Re my previous comment, could also be that the Court wants to wait for decisions in other Circuits before it makes a move.

  63. 63
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Full Metal Wingnut: Yes, this is a better result than if the Court had upheld the statute, but it really doesn’t tell us much.

  64. 64
    Woodrowfan says:

    Al Jazeria ran a story Sunday about Russians using little cameras in their cares to fight back against the Russian police and other officials from demanding bribes, or even attacking citizens.

  65. 65
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I will freely admit that I would not want anyone filming me at my job, because I spend way too much of the company’s time doing stuff like commenting on Balloon Juice. But the company I work for doesn’t issue deadly weapons to me and have me interact with the public as part of my job. Once your job description includes “could seriously injure or kill a member of the public as a result of a routine interaction,” I think the privacy bar goes up much higher.

    I point out that, while I feel the same, when my library decided to participate in an online “help with homework” system, the librarians involved were required to pass a police check and their logs are routinely recorded – and, of course, prospective teachers also have to have a police check to make certain they haven’t been previously suspected of kiddie-fiddling.

    We do that because we know children are vulnerable and because we know pedophiles like to get into positions where they can groom them. And we also know we’re all vulnerable to police authority and that petty bullies and sadists like to seek these positions as well.

    Teachers and librarians learned to live with the intrusion. Cops on the job can learn to live with being recorded. Either they can behave responsibly or they can leave.

  66. 66
    rebmarks says:

    @rb: Good news in MA — in the Glick case, in which a young ACLU lawyer was arrested and charged with felony wiretapping for filming (and recording) the Boston police arresting someone else in Boston Commons — the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in 2011 issued a resounding and unanimous opinion in support of the First Amendment right to record the actions of police in public. Yay!

  67. 67
    EriktheRed says:

    Wow, I watched an episode of The Good Wife which dealt with this. I live in in IL and I never knew this law was REAL.

  68. 68
    trollhattan says:

    @Woodrowfan:
    Yup. YouTube has a vast collection of hair-raising Russian in-car videos.

    They crazy.

  69. 69
    LanceThruster says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I was fascinated to learn some of the details of LAPD’s “Hat Squad” (the subject of a movie with Nick Nolte). They regularly did extra-judical killings and other acts outside of their charter in an attempt to deal with east coast crime syndicates looking to set up shop in greater LA. IIRC, they used these same rogue practices anywhere they felt they could gain advantage.

    It was essentially “Blackwater” before there was a Blackwater.

  70. 70
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It’s tricky, though, because right now it’s legal in a lot of states to shove a camera under someone’s skirt and take a picture of her crotch because, hey, she’s in a public place and she should have expected that to happen.

    Nope – http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/108/s1301

    “‘(a) Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, has the intent to capture an image of a private area of an individual without their consent, and knowingly does so under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

    Unless people in your area have a habit of sticking their heads under your skirt, then you have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” that would preclude them sticking a camera under there as well.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay S:

    I’m glad to see I was wrong about Washington state, but it seems my larger point is still correct — in many states, it’s perfectly legal to take a picture under a woman’s skirt in a public place like a park or a bus because there is no expectation of privacy in a public place. It’s one of those areas where the law has not quite caught up with technology, unfortunately.

  72. 72
    Ruckus says:

    @Cassidy:
    I support cops, they do a sometimes shitty and terrifying job, with their lives on the line anytime at a moments notice. That said it doesn’t give them the right to act or even just condone by inaction, the bad behavior of any of them. And that happens every day. It’s more than an attitude problem and it for sure is not a new problem. Until the bad attitudes and actions of (quite) a few of their members change I am going to believe that cops are the new storm troopers. I know you can prove me wrong about a lot of cops but without fixing the problem they are enablers. Maybe they can’t fix anything(organizational momentum?) and we will have to from the outside.
    Just a side note, I had a minor interaction yesterday with a cop that was refreshing in how well and professionally it was handled. Totally amazed me. I never had a cop act like this in almost 60 years and that includes friends on different forces. He was young though so maybe he’ll get that worked out of him. I hope not.

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans:

    Federal law does not automatically supersede state law.

  74. 74
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    As far as I can tell from this article, at a minimum it’s legal in Washington state, Oklahoma and Indiana to sneak a camera under a woman’s skirt in a public place and take a picture without her knowledge or consent.

    The article missed this bit of the Act –

    “‘(5) the term ‘under circumstances in which that individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy’ means–

    ‘(A) circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that he or she could disrobe in privacy, without being concerned that an image of a private area of the individual was being captured; or

    ‘(B) circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that a private area of the individual would not be visible to the public, regardless of whether that person is in a public or private place.”

  75. 75
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Federal law does not automatically supersede state law.

    Maybe, I dunno. However, in the absence of a state law saying “go ahead and snap, you perverts”, it seems reasonable to assume the Federal law applies. Do you have a state law saying otherwise?

  76. 76
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Mnemosyne: Well in the case of maritime law it does, per the Constitution right?

  77. 77
    rb says:

    @rebmarks: Thank you! I’ll want to read up on this tonight, but that is a great relief.

  78. 78
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: there doesn’t necessary need to be an explicit law on point. See: field preemption http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki.....#section_2

  79. 79
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: this is specific to particular jurisdictions (from the portion you quote)-maritime and territorial. Absent a convincing commerce or spending clause argument (or some constitutional claim that implicates an individual constitutional right) that’s the most the federal government can do

  80. 80
    David in NY says:

    @Mnemosyne: @Phoenician in a time of Romans:

    A few things. Those cases don’t decide (as a matter of say, constitutional law) that pictures taken up a skirt are always legal, because they’re taken in a “public” place. It’s just the normal happenstance that the usual voyeurism statute involved window-peeking, or the like, and explicitly, by their written text, applied only to looking into a private space like a home or a bathroom, etc. They are just decisions that the state has as yet passed no law on the subject, and the state is perfectly free to do so in any language it sees fit to do it.

    As to the federal statute, it applies, by its terms, only to conduct within federal territorial or other jurisdictions (at West Point or any army base, on a Navy ship, in a VA hospital, in the Capitol, etc., etc.). That is because the management of such federal enclaves is the only place Congress has the power to pass general criminal laws (would be hard to tie this one to the Commerce Clause or whatever, right?). So that federal law doesn’t apply except in such areas. If Congress could bring the law within the Commerce Clause, or some broader power, it could pass it as binding on everybody, everywhere (see drug laws, etc.). It might, for example, under the Commerce Clause, pass legislating forbidding the trade in such pictures (see, child porn, etc.) applicable to everybody.

  81. 81
    danielx says:

    Generally speaking, the police hate video recording unless it’s a recording of a suspect doing something bad. Chicago police in particular detest video recoding because of incidents like this and this.

    As to dashboard cameras and for that matter videocameras installed by public safety agencies in public places, it’s amazing how often those cameras seem to malfunction when something questionable takes place…such as a citizen getting tased or getting the living shit beaten out of him or her.

    The whole topic of police culture and tactics is (to put it mildly) beyond the scope of a blog comment; there have been volumes written about it. Radley Balko (with whom I disagree on a great many things) has done excellent work in this area, as have many others. However…a couple of comments:

    – I was told years ago by a to-be-unnamed person (lawyer and judge) that cops and criminals were two sides of the same coin, and that cops committed perjury all the time and got away with it. I’ve seen nothing since then that would cause me to change that opinion. They do commit perjury, they do brutalize the innocent and guilty alike and they do arrest people on pretextual grounds in order to confiscate property. They are not your friends, and calling them should always be a last resort.
    – Another person in the same capacity sez: people become cops for one of three reasons: 1. to protect and serve, etc, 2. because it’s a civil service job with decent benefits and job security, and 3. because they get to carry a gun and push people around. Which sort of person predominates in a particular organization depends on a lot of factors – where it is, department management, etc etc etc.

    Cops are just like everybody else, they come in good, bad and indifferent varieties. The difference is that they haves guns and the full authority of the law with which to be good, bad and indifferent, and which variety a given officer may be can change from day to day.

    The amazing thing about the Otto Zehm case cited in the link above is that a police officer was actually sentenced to more than four years in prison for use of excessive force. I’d have expected the guy to be fired but with full retirement benefits.

  82. 82
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Full Metal Wingnut:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: this is specific to particular jurisdictions (from the portion you quote)-maritime and territorial. Absent a convincing commerce or spending clause argument (or some constitutional claim that implicates an individual constitutional right) that’s the most the federal government can do

    Sounds plausible. I bow to your superior expertise, and will make certain that if I’m snapping panty shots in the US, I won’t do it in a Federal building.

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans:

    However, in the absence of a state law saying “go ahead and snap, you perverts”, it seems reasonable to assume the Federal law applies.

    Dude, that’s not how the Constitution works. 10th Amendment. States make their own laws about these things, and something that’s illegal in one state may be perfectly legal in another. In some states you can tape your own phone conversation without the other person’s consent. In others, you’ll go to jail for it.

  84. 84
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: I claim no expertise beyond reading Chemerinsky’s Consitutional law book many years ago.

  85. 85

    Related to this topic, I’m disappointed that Radley Balko moved to HuffPo, if for no other reason than I can’t figure out how to get a dedicated RSS feed for his articles.

  86. 86
    Mnemosyne says:

    @David in NY:

    It’s just the normal happenstance that the usual voyeurism statute involved window-peeking, or the like, and explicitly, by their written text, applied only to looking into a private space like a home or a bathroom, etc.

    That’s what I meant when I said that it’s an area where the law has not caught up with the technology. When the original voyeurism laws were written, no one imagined that someday there would be tiny digital cameras that could take underskirt pictures in a public place without someone’s knowledge or that there would be an internet where said pictures could be posted for all to see. So there will need to be a slight re-writing of the laws that apply to privacy to prevent jerkasses from taking advantage of those loopholes.

  87. 87
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Mnemosyne: cyber law and crime and other technological advancements as it applies to this stuff really, really needs smart legislative action, and should not be left to judicial interpretation alone. This is my problem with a lot of IP law-if any area of law could use a 21st century legislative refresh, it’s property. At least from what I remember of that clusterfuck of a class.

  88. 88
  89. 89
    Maude says:

    @Full Metal Wingnut:
    Have you had a look at some of the Repubs in Congress? We’re lucky if they ever get out of the 19th century.

  90. 90
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Maude: yeah. It’s aspirational. A lot of computer crime legislation was passed in 1986-not all of it obsolete but needs to be revisited.

  91. 91
    Del says:

    @Cassidy: Up until a few years ago I would have agreed with you. Then a funny thing happened. My father, who drives 45 minutes each way through the country to get to town to work late at night, was pulled over. Why? Because an old retired cop who lived on the road reported that his garage had been broken into. The rookie sheriff who pulled my father over then proceeded to treat him like a burgler, arrest him and claim his engraved tackle box in his trunk was stolen. My parents had to take out a second mortgage to pay for a lawyer to fight against the prosecutor and sheriff’s office (they not only didn’t back down, they tried to force a plea that would have resulted in ONLY 5 years in prison).

    End of the story? The lawyer my parents paid for was money well spent and he completely mopped the floor with the cops. Turns out that coaching your accusing witness into identifying the defendant is a big no-no.

    Cops are human. They just happen to be ones who can legally ruin your life and shoot you dead if you fight back. They deserve the absolute highest scrutiny, and if they can’t handle that they have no business wearing the badge.

  92. 92
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Look, from some previous experience working with clients: taping cops is a great idea because the cops tend to mysteriously “lose” their own video evidence of traffic stops and arrests when they are challenged, and the D.A. generally helps them lose it.

    When taping cops becomes illegal, video evidence is only produced when it helps the police. That’s my experience. The blue code of silence becomes a code of invisibility.

  93. 93
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Brandon: A lot of jurisprudence is set up on the notion of expectation of privacy. I wouldn’t mind if that law were to be upheld, but it would need a court ruling of broad application to establishes an expectation of privacy for everyone in public spaces. Wonder how the FOP would react to limiting of police powers should that type of rule pass though.

    Exactly. Privacy for me but not for thee. I’ve got a problem with the constant taping of people on the job and taking shit out of context (and taking shit too seriously) but you know the fact is that any public employee is going to be held to a higher standard (I am one) and police officers even more so. Part of professionalization which was higher wages and better training is that you’re also not supposed to be the big bully with the nightstick any more. I know in my job when I’m with the public on camera I have to control my emotions and not do any li’l thing that springs into my head when a member of the public is a flaming idiot or asshole.

  94. 94
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne: I will freely admit that I would not want anyone filming me at my job, because I spend way too much of the company’s time doing stuff like commenting on Balloon Juice.

    The Company is watching you internet.

  95. 95
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @rikyrah: But, I’ve been Black in America longer than 3 days, and I have a healthy suspicion of the police.

    Hello. There are jagoffs who become police for the sole reason that they’re obsessed with the status and the gun and the power. These people should not be police. We should aim to make the job as unappealing to these social dominator tools as possible. Dashcams and complete videotaping of interrogations are part of that.

    The other problems start well outside the police department–mayors, DAs, other members of the power structure (uh, gun manufacturers?) who aim to convert police from your beat cop public service into the long arm of authoritarian overreach. Like the mandated stop and frisks in NYC.

  96. 96
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S.: It’s funny; people who are doing bad things never want anybody to film them.

    But “bad” could just mean “violating company policy” not necessarily doing something morally wrong. Sometimes the company creates a catch 22 where the thing you have to do to make your job work is against policy and you’ll be disciplined for it. It’s like the parable of the steward who writes down the tenants’ debts. The landlord, had he known, would have been apoplectic. The truth is that a lot of times the people in charge don’t really understand how to do the job or how the job works. They might even take some underresearched university-originated info as Word From Above and impose that on seasoned workers who know better. Or they’re worried about liability or looking bad. Or just idiot authoritarians who think a rule should be followed exactly every time. It doesn’t work that way. Not even in copinating.

    Now, I guess that’s fair enough if some guy is plotting some crime in his own house.

    But a criminal plotting a crime should not necessarily have the expectation of privacy. If the police have reasonable suspicion they should be able to obtain a warrant and engage in warranted surveillance.

    It’s not as if the public and private spheres are magic spaces that don’t overlap. It’s a matter of degree, and the English legal system was supposed to force police to show a third party (a judge) why they should be allowed to snoop and shit because they knew from hard experience that just giving the enforcers blanket authority is a really fucking bad idea. Hence the rage over the warrantless wiretapping in the PATRIOT Act. Without oversight what’s to stop these guys from pursuing personal vendettas? The warrant is not intended to give criminals a holiday, guys.

    Even if he’s conspiring to knock over a filling station or kill somebody, nobody should be willing to let police peek randomly into everybody’s windows in the hope of catching a crime happening.

    But this is what employers and the public are doing with recording devices. The same guy who plays video games with his coworkers at work has a ragegasm about a public employee eating a sandwich or a retail employee taking a smoke break.

    Note: I’m all for dashcams (and interrogation room recordings–the whole thing, not just what the DA wants). I’m just disputing you because I disagree with your arguments.

  97. 97
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @catclub:

    I think you missed the post that observed that whenever it comes down to actually testifying, in any cops versus civvies conflict, all the good cops still support the bad ones. Rumor has it that perjury may even take place.

    One problem is perjury. Another problem is cognitive bias, which even cops and detectives are prone to.

    Recordings help with cognitive bias. So would more scientific methods of using “lie detectors” (as they do in Japan) and the whole universe of improved methods that recognize that we as humans have quirks in our perception and reasoning.

    Even a good cop can start something against an innocent person because a mistaken perception gets snowballed with cognitive bias.

    You know, like when the cops have a theory about a crime and do a shitty job gathering ALL the evidence and end up blowing their case or putting the wrong person away? But by the end, they are utterly convinced of their righteousness. Our brains have, er, design flaws. Whatchamacallem.

  98. 98
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Arclite: That was my thought. What is this, communist China?

    Lol, pikers, we imprison more people.

  99. 99
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Cassidy: They have a track record of failing to show solidarity with other unions. There are exceptions (Wisconsin in 2011) but even when they don’t actively fight other unions they’ll seek their own peace.

    Like Teamsters but less distrusted so much as a non-entity most of the time.

  100. 100
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Another Halocene Human: “But a criminal plotting a crime should not necessarily have the expectation of privacy.”

    This is also demonstrated by the fact that drug sniffing dogs who only sniff for narcotics like coke are not a fourth amendment violation, because the only people whose privacy will be violated are those engaged in illegal acts.

  101. 101
    pattonbt says:

    I always come down on the side of “the more powerful / independent a position is, the higher the standard of conduct we must demand and transparency of adherence to conduct demonstrated”. No “three strikes”, one and done is the way. And this needs to be made perfectly clear before anyone is hired into those positions.

    So cops – tough. You must be held to a higher standard and you must be transparent in everything you do on duty. Public trust in that institution is too critical for anything else. If you cant live up to that, you dont deserve to be a cop.

    Sure, cops are people, and all my dealings with cops have been at least professional if not easy (granted I am an upper class white male who is deferential when dealing with cops), but the responsibility that comes with that position requires them to hold themselves above the actions of “normal” people. It’s tough, but thems the rules.

    My job, although in the private sector, requires such behaviour as well, and I know I have little or no room to take advantage of things other employees try. I accept this and I make sure that whatever I do I can back up transparently. If I dont / cant, then bye bye me.

  102. 102
    Cmm says:

    As a police officer I applaud this decision. I thought the no recording laws are appalling and hoped they would be speedily tossed out. Think about this though: people frequently whip out cellphones and record confrontations with police they are in or that are going on around them. I see it all the time. You only see the tiny fraction that are shared and go viral because something really insanely out of the norm happened. Most are deleted or stored and forgotten because they were boring and routine.

    My opinion is, go ahead and record our confrontation. But remember there is a good chance I am recording it too, to cover my own behind. When people try to intimidate me and get in my face by demanding my name and “badge number” I give them a business card with my info on it and tell them this will help them spell my name right. I do my job and do my best to do it right. I ain’t skewered.

    What I do despise is the increasing use of recordings and other methods to monitor the patrol officers by supervisors and admins. The same cameras are used to catch officers no wearing seatbelts, talking on cellphones and other violations much more than they are used for evidence against suspects or complaints from the public. That is not necessarily a horrible thing but it makes the officers hate and fear the cameras. It feels intrusive and unpleasant especially in an environment where discipline is enforced selectively. In addition to in car cameras our agency recently installed these wireless mobile things which is supposed to make the computers more responsive and faster but also has a tracking system that allow the brass to watch where every car goes and how long it stands still at a given location, and again, is used for petty abuses of power from on high.

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    Paul in KY says:

    @jibeaux: Are you ‘blah’ by any chance? Shame to ask that, but the police are quite racist at times (IMO).

  104. 104
    Paul in KY says:

    @👽 Martin: He should have chewed them up before swallowing. Then they wouldn’t have been ‘live’.

  105. 105
    Paul in KY says:

    @trollhattan: Tasty escaped former pets!

  106. 106
    Don says:

    @Cris (without an H): Just get an RSS feed of his twitter stream. He always posts about his new articles.

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