Court case to determine right to record police with cellphone

What if you pulled out your cell phone to record video or audio of officers making a arrest, are you "secretly" recording? No seems like a common sense answer, but not according to the Boston Police Department. Appeals were heard on Wednesday in the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals. The city denied that the man they arrested had his First or Fourth Amendment rights violated, according to Ars Technica.

In 2007, Simon Glik witnessed the arrest of another man and pulled out his cell phone to record the account. A police officer approached Glik, and Glik said he was recording the encounter because the suspect had been punched by another officer. Glik was subsequently arrested. Many states have "one-party notification" laws that allow any party that is privy to the conversation to conduct "secret recordings".  In Massachusetts, however, all parties must consent. The police arrested Glik for breaking this law. In addition, he was charged with "aiding the escape of a prisoner" and "disturbing the peace".

Glik was bailed out. All charges were dropped or dismissed. The Massachusetts ACLU helped him file charges of false arrest. He argued that the officers should have known his recording was not secret, due to the phone being in plain sight. He also said that officers violated his First Amendment right to record the actions of government officials. He has also sued the city for failing to properly train its officers.

The Federal District Court denied the motion to dismiss the case, and the ruling was appealed on Wednesday. The judges made their decision based on a 2001 case where a traffic stop was recorded secretly. In that case, the court said simply placing the recorder in plain view would have sufficed to make the recording legal.

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19 Comments

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The question is, what is it that they have to hide when they seem willing to take these steps to prevent someone from simply recording them while apparently doing their job. Deeply concerning, that's for sure.

I don't see the issue with recording, but what I would have an issue with is the camera up in the cops face or near by as to not allow him to do his job. What would happen here is a major distraction and could allow the suspect to do something rash like grab a gun or something to cause a major problem. Wouldn't be fair if later that day the cop went to this guy's place of work and did video of him as well. Cops are not elected officials but HIRED employee's of the state,city or town and no more different really on our privacy rights as the next guy.

sava700 said,
I don't see the issue with recording, but what I would have an issue with is the camera up in the cops face or near by as to not allow him to do his job. What would happen here is a major distraction and could allow the suspect to do something rash like grab a gun or something to cause a major problem. Wouldn't be fair if later that day the cop went to this guy's place of work and did video of him as well. Cops are not elected officials but HIRED employee's of the state,city or town and no more different really on our privacy rights as the next guy.

Two problems:
1). The police are not private citizens because they are in a public space, and therefore by definition subject to recording and, or other means of documentations. Individuals outside of their home have a limited right to privacy. It would not be any different here.
2). If they have nothing to hide... why would they be afraid of being recorded? If an individual takes out his cellphone and records the police while making an arrest they could be arrested for interfering in the ability of an officer to carry out their duties. What we are talking about here is the ability of a citizen to take footage at a safe distance (say across the street or many yards away) of an ongoing action by said officer/officers.

Why is it at the immigration desk of US airports, they've made it illegal to use cameras? Is it because TSA doesn't want evidence of miscarriages of justice being recorded?

Why not? If the police have the right to record others - say during a 'routine vehicle check' - then why is it not in the right of that person or persons to record the police. You can't defend yourself if you don't have evidence to do so.

Mkvos said,
Why not? If the police have the right to record others - say during a 'routine vehicle check' - then why is it not in the right of that person or persons to record the police. You can't defend yourself if you don't have evidence to do so.

Because some police officers are just as, if not more corrupt than criminals. They and the entire legal system are institutionally designed to protect themselves. Why should they make it easy for you to prosecute one of their own?

how lame, if anything exciting happens in public - including most arrests - cameras, cell phones and camcorders will start to record on command.
It also seems the police were ticked because they really laid a few charges on him.

phatphunky said,
how lame, if anything exciting happens in public - including most arrests - cameras, cell phones and camcorders will start to record on command.
It also seems the police were ticked because they really laid a few charges on him.

Keep in mind, if you upload any such footage to YouTube, you can get arrested, there is several cases similar to this involving YT. Thank God for multiple YT accounts!

Finally someone steps up for us! They have cameras in their cars recording us, Yet they get ****ed when someone else records them? Sorry but seriously that's messed up. This one was to cover their behinds though because they know they messed up but that's besides the point. I'm glad someone is stepping forth and saying "Enough, stop pushing me around."

M_Lyons10 said,
This is so absurd. So, these government workers now want to prevent you from recording misconduct. Nice.
That's exactly what this is about. Ridiculous.

tiagosilva29 said,
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
This is not about guarding the guards. This is about watching the guards.

People elected the govt. In other words, people gave the govt. the power to rule over them. The govt. is its people's slave in a democracy. People should have every right to oversee, including record, what the govt. is doing and protest any wrongdoing.

Jebadiah said,
This is not about guarding the guards. This is about watching the guards.
The sentence has many possible interpretations. One being 'who watches the watchmen?'.

Public officials should always be accountable to the public. They can not expect for their actions to be shielded from public observation.