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$57,000 Payout For Woman Charged With Wiretapping After Filming Cops 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-me-tell-you-what-a-wire-is dept.
mpicpp sends this news from Ars: 'A local New Hampshire police department agreed Thursday to pay a woman who was arrested and charged with wiretapping $57,000 to settle her civil rights lawsuit. The deal comes a week after a federal appeals court ruled that the public has a "First Amendment" right to film cops. The plaintiff in the case, Carla Gericke, was arrested on wiretapping allegations in 2010 for filming her friend being pulled over by the Weare Police Department during a late-night traffic stop. Although Gericke was never brought to trial, she sued, alleging that her arrest constituted retaliatory prosecution in breach of her constitutional rights. The department, without admitting wrongdoing, settled Thursday in a move that the woman's attorney speculated would deter future police "retaliation." ... The First US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) in Gericke's case last week that she was "exercising a clearly established First Amendment right when she attempted to film the traffic stop in the absence of a police order to stop filming or leave the area."
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$57,000 Payout For Woman Charged With Wiretapping After Filming Cops

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  • by sribe (304414) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @09:43AM (#47185923)

    Seems to imply that if the police had ordered her to stop filming or leave the area, then she could have been arrested had she continued.

    No, this is a court ruling, when the court does not look at speculative circumstances of theoretical cases not brought before it. So what it actually means is that the ruling simply has nothing at all to say about a circumstance where the police give such an order, because so such circumstance was part of this case.

  • Re:right... (Score:5, Informative)

    by rockout (1039072) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @09:46AM (#47185929)

    There's more responsibility than that placed upon the police, which you would've seen if you'd done a 5-second search instead of just read a shitty slashdot summary:

    "However, a police order that is specifically directed at the First Amendment right to film police performing their duties in public may be constitutionally imposed only if the officer can reasonably conclude that the filming itself is interfering, or is about to interfere, with his duties."

    You can read even more (imagine that! read to educate yourself!) here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/... [washingtonpost.com]

  • by rockout (1039072) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @09:48AM (#47185935)
    Maybe not directly, but it's coming out of the pockets of the town, which employs the police. So if you're the mayor or councilman or whatever, and you want to make sure chunks of your budget aren't flying into the hands of people being harassed by the police, you're damn sure going to tell the chief to tell his cops he's not arresting people anymore for filming cops. I have a feeling they'll get the message.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2014 @11:08AM (#47186235)

    So really, doesn't this just mean that Police will now simply order people to stop filming or leave the area in order to end the filming?

    Nope. The second TFA explains thusly:

    "Last month, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals said citizens may videotape police officers performing their duties unless an officer orders them to disperse or stop recording for legitimate safety reasons . In its unanimous ruling, the court rejected arguments by Weare officers that they should be immune from liability, under a theory that allows government officials to make reasonable mistakes that do not violate clearly established constitutional rights or state laws."

    So there has to be legitimate safety reason for the police officer to order someone to stop recording and disperse. Of course, that won't stop cops from coming up with a bullshit safety excuses to stop people from recording, but at least a person who's been arrested for recording can dispute that issue in a trial.

  • No (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2014 @11:16AM (#47186277)

    No. Just No. Good judges are precise. He was very specific about the circumstances for the ruling. He did not "carve out an exception" at all. He was specifying in discreet detail his ruling, so that the context was extremely clear. He was specifically not ruling on a case where the cops ordered someone to depart or stop filiming, so that this case would not be misused as precedent.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @12:06PM (#47186427)

    So do bad ones, much more quickly in good police departments.

    I do wonder what happened to this officer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] It should be used by the police as a training video of exactly how to handle people carrying rifles openly.

                   

  • by triclipse (702209) <slashdot@@@combslaw...cc> on Saturday June 07, 2014 @04:36PM (#47187399) Homepage
    You may not be a lawyer, but you are correct. From the ruling:

    The circumstances of some traffic stops, particularly when the detained individual is armed, might justify a safety measure -- for example, a command that bystanders disperse -- that would incidentally impact an individual's exercise of the First Amendment right to film. Such an order, even when directed at a person who is filming, may be appropriate for legitimate safety reasons. However, a police order that is specifically directed at the First Amendment right to film police performing their duties in public may be constitutionally imposed only if the officer can reasonably conclude that the filming itself is interfering, or is about to interfere, with his duties.

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