Courts Uphold Right to Film Police PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Darryl W. Perry   
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 11:59
When one hears the term wiretapping, normally one thinks of secretly recording phone calls of others; some may have thoughts of Watergate. However, under some crafty interpretations of the legal definition of wiretapping, several people have found themselves as suspects of this offense for filming their encounters with public officials. Most people familiar with the Free State Project are aware that Pete Eyre and Adam Mueller (aka Ademo Freeman) were recently acquitted of the felony wiretapping charges in Massachusetts. Some people may even be aware that the 1st Circuit Court ruled that filming public officials while on duty is a “basic and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment.”

While, the 1st Circuit Court ruling only applies to the States that are part of that Court's jurisdiction, it was cited by a judge in Illinois as a “pervasive authority” for ruling on similar cases. Specifically the case of an Illinois man, Michael Allison, who was recently convicted of five counts of felony eavesdropping and sentenced to 75 years in prison. The Illinois law makes it a felony to record a conversation without consent of ALL parties involved, regardless of the circumstances. Allison's troubles began when he recorded his encounters with police who were seizing cars from his front yard. Allison then attempted to record his court appearance and was arrested for supposedly violating the Judge's privacy. However, there is good news for Mr. Allison, another Judge (David Frankland) dismissed the charges against Michael Allison and ruled, “A statute intended to prevent unwarranted intrusion into a citizen's privacy cannot be used as a shield for public officials who cannot assert a comparable right to privacy in their public duties... Such action impedes the free flow of information concerning public officials and violates the First Amendment right to gather information.”

Additionally, the ACLU is challenging the Illinois law in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, with the court expected to issue a decision in the next month. And a Chicago jury recently acquitted a woman for secretly recording a conversation with police regarding a sexual harassment complaint she was attempting to file against the department.

It seems police officers have no issues if they are filmed during parades or doing something good, such as getting a kitten out of a tree; it's only when the officer is being “less than cordial” that it becomes an issue. Why should someone film a police encounter? Doing so, and presenting the film as evidence during his trial, helped Dave Ridley win an acquittal for trespassing at a public event in New Hampshire.

It's good to see courts, and juries, recognizing the fact that filming cops is not a crime. I encourage everyone to carry a camera (or two) just in case the need arises to film an encounter with a “public servant.” You may be able to hold them accountable, and possibly protect yourself from jail.

In Peace, Freedom, Love & Liberty,
Darryl W. Perry
Chair Boston Tea Party National Committee
Owner/Managing Editor Free Patriot Press
2016 candidate for President of the United States of America

Darryl W. Perry is an Activist, Author, Poet & Statesman. Darryl writes a weekly article for the Mountaineer Jeffersonian, a monthly article for The Sovereign and has appeared on various alternative media talking about his books, political career and goals. Darryl is the Chairman of the Boston Tea Party National Committee and Owner/Managing Editor of Free Patriot Press.
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