Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: recording of public employees

  1. #1
    Regular Member J1MB0B's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Tacoma, Washington
    Posts
    239

    recording of public employees

    Considering the supreme court decisions that allow recording of public officials in performance of their official duties, is it legal to record them behind closed doors? For example, a meeting with more than one public employee in a conference room or office with the door closed. Assuming they are all public officials and the meeting is official in nature, I would say yes. Or does being in a room with the door closed give them an expectation of privacy and make it illegal to record without announcing it first? I know I could just tell them and be good that way, but I'm worried that they might not want to be recorded and ask us to leave. Am I missing anything?

    I should add that I'm being vague because a close friend and his kids are involved and I have been asked to leave out specifics.

  2. #2
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    US Navy
    Posts
    34
    Quote Originally Posted by J1MB0B View Post
    Considering the supreme court decisions that allow recording of public officials in performance of their official duties, is it legal to record them behind closed doors? For example, a meeting with more than one public employee in a conference room or office with the door closed. Assuming they are all public officials and the meeting is official in nature, I would say yes. Or does being in a room with the door closed give them an expectation of privacy and make it illegal to record without announcing it first? I know I could just tell them and be good that way, but I'm worried that they might not want to be recorded and ask us to leave. Am I missing anything?

    I should add that I'm being vague because a close friend and his kids are involved and I have been asked to leave out specifics.
    This is just opinion as I have no citation to back it up:

    A public official who is conducting official business with a member of the public should not have an expectation of an inherent right to privacy with regards to the things the official says or does in so far as those things said and done reflect on that public official and their office. To clarify, if you are discussing with the Police Chief something to do with a minor child, the expectation is that the information about the minor child will remain confidential but any speech or action by the Police Chief that is out of line would not carry an expectation under color of law that it is in any way protected as confidential.

    The fact that you are vague and unclear about the subject matter you may be recording makes it hard to discuss/advise...but if their is no law that states it is a violation to record then you most likely can without the need to inform...whether you should is an entirely different matter based on the nature of what would be recorded. Whether what you record could be used as evidence against those you record is also another discussion.

    Again the above is just opinion.

    -Z
    Last edited by Zohan; 01-16-2015 at 06:15 AM.

  3. #3
    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    North Chesterfield VA
    Posts
    10,682
    I'm not saying who, but I know someone who has gone into closed-door meetings with public officials (where neither personnel nor pending litigation were subject matters) and layed a recorder down on the table only to be asked to turn it off as a condition of the meeting continuing. They agreed to turn off the recorder that thery had placed on the table, as requested.

    Did anybody notice that nothing was said about the recorder in their shirt pocket or the one on a lanyard around their neck or the memory stick recorder that was in their laptop?

    One is none and two is one and always have another backup if you are heading into Indian Country alone. Now if you were going into the meeting not alone, I would not want to guess at the number of recorders in operation.

    If to the best of your knowledge it is legal to record public officials in the performance of their duties the only question that remains should be are you in a one-party or all-party state. Even if you are in a two-party state you should have recorded the public officials asking/telling you to turn off the recorder and their response to asking "Why?" before you actually turn it off.

    I also know someone who, when not allowed to record in a two-party state, took notes and asked the public officials (or at least their leader) to sign at the bottom that the notes were a fair and accurate summary or to put in writing why they felt the notes were not fair and accurate. And then when the public official declined to take either choice offered printed in large letters something to the effect that they had been given the opportunity to sign agreeing that the notes were fair and accurate to to put down a statement as to why they were not fair and accurate and had refused to do either.

    Handled properly, that last can be quite the news article.

    stay safe.
    "He'll regret it to his dying day....if ever he lives that long."----The Quiet Man

    Because stupidity isn't a race, and everybody can win.

    "No matter how much contempt you have for the media in all this, you don't have enough"
    ----Allahpundit

  4. #4
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Thru Death's Door in Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,148
    In my state, annotation to OPEN MEETINGS OF GOVERNMENTAL BODIES 19.81  Declaration of policy.
    Anyone has the right to tape−record an open meeting of a governmental body provided the meeting is not thereby physically disrupted.
    66 Atty. Gen. 318.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

  5. #5
    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    White Oak Plantation
    Posts
    12,269
    ...open meeting is not (may not be) the same as a closed door meeting.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

  6. #6
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Thru Death's Door in Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,148
    Here called executive session and authorized for particular purposes.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

  7. #7
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    earth's crust
    Posts
    17,838
    Depends on the state .... eavesdropping laws and records laws.

    If its a meeting, as defined by your open record laws, that is not exempt, then you can record.

    I assume that the OP can examine his state's eavesdropping laws but there is a difference between taping a telephone call v. in person recording outside of telephone calls..so keep this distinction in mind.

    Ex: I was at a public bldg on the 14th ... I was recording a conversation with a person .. the person got upset I was recording (a security guard) and ran off to call the cops. The cops never came. Why? Because I can record conversations in-person in my state whereas one needs 2 person consent for telephone recording. Its fun !

    And I get this all the time. "You recording me? That's against the law!" I just tell them to call someone who cares and keep recording usually.
    Last edited by davidmcbeth; 01-16-2015 at 11:24 AM.

  8. #8
    Regular Member J1MB0B's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Tacoma, Washington
    Posts
    239
    Thanks for your input guys.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •