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Thread: SCOTUS right to record

  1. #1
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    I saw it here somewhere stating that a scotus ruling said basically as police are public servants the conversation is public and can be recorded with or without permission. I did a search here and google and found nothing (or too much of everything else).

    Does anyone have this ruling handy? I got a friend who was recording a traffic stop and the police told him to turn it off and got a little irritated with him. I thought it would be good for him to know the information so he can inform them next time it happens or if it happens.

    Plus it would be good to have for my own use as I intend to record my next traffic stop.

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    YllwFvr wrote:
    I saw it here somewhere stating that a scotus ruling said basically as police are public servants the conversation is public and can be recorded with or without permission. I did a search here and google and found nothing (or too much of everything else).

    Does anyone have this ruling handy? I got a friend who was recording a traffic stop and the police told him to turn it off and got a little irritated with him. I thought it would be good for him to know the information so he can inform them next time it happens or if it happens.

    Plus it would be good to have for my own use as I intend to record my next traffic stop.
    That's a state by state issue.

    Ohio is a one party consent state. You can record any conversation to which you are a party.
    --- Gun control: The theory that 110lb. women have the "right" to fistfight with 210lb. rapists.

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    Deanimator wrote:
    YllwFvr wrote:
    I saw it here somewhere stating that a scotus ruling said basically as police are public servants the conversation is public and can be recorded with or without permission. I did a search here and google and found nothing (or too much of everything else).

    Does anyone have this ruling handy? I got a friend who was recording a traffic stop and the police told him to turn it off and got a little irritated with him. I thought it would be good for him to know the information so he can inform them next time it happens or if it happens.

    Plus it would be good to have for my own use as I intend to record my next traffic stop.
    That's a state by state issue.

    Ohio is a one party consent state. You can record any conversation to which you are a party.
    Supreme court rulings can go on a state by state basis? Ooh Ill have to check.

    In Pa all parties must be notified and consent. Im pretty sure except for cops as its not a private conversation.

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    YllwFvr wrote:
    Supreme court rulings can go on a state by state basis? Ooh Ill have to check.
    So much for States' Rights.

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    Doug Huffman wrote:
    YllwFvr wrote:
    Supreme court rulings can go on a state by state basis? Ooh Ill have to check.
    So much for States' Rights.
    Whats so bad about that?

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    YllwFvr wrote:
    Supreme court rulings can go on a state by state basis?
    Supreme Court rulings frequently apply only to certain states' laws.

    In the Hiibel ruling over being required to show identification, the court didn't rule that police always have the right to demand identification. They did rule that "stop and identify" statutes, in states where they exist, are constitutional.

    Not all states have such statutes. Police in those states didn't gain any additional authority from Hiibel.

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    That example sounds to me like it reinforces that supreme court rulings are nationwide. If any state has a law that's applicable to, then they abide by the findings of the supreme court. Yes?

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    NightOwl wrote:
    That example sounds to me like it reinforces that supreme court rulings are nationwide. If any state has a law that's applicable to, then they abide by the findings of the supreme court. Yes?
    Yes. But it often takes another ruling to decide if the other state's law is sufficiently similar to make the ruling applicable.

    Look at Heller: some locales decided to reverse their handgun bans, because they didn't want to spend millions defending a case they would probably lose. Other cities, bigger ones like Chicago, decided they would vociferously defend their handgun ban, no matter the cost.

    So while Heller applies nationwide, there remain places where handguns are banned by law. Those local laws won't be overturned until court cases work their way through the system and Heller is found to apply.


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    Several federal (PA) and state courts have held that the constitution provides you theright record what the police do in their official capacities even if this violates state 2 party consent laws.

    I do not know if the S. Ct. has held specifically on this issue.

    An S. Ct. holding is binding on all courts, state and federal. The Hiibel case is a great example though of howholding is limited by the facts upon which the holding is premised.



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    Several federal (PA) and state courts have held that the constitution provides you theright record what the police do in their official capacities even if this violates state 2 party consent laws.


    PA has bounced around the right to privacy and where it extends to with recording. The PA supreme court has ruled that there is no privacy in an interview room where multiple people are coming in and out and where reports are being taken of the situation.


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    I believe some states also distinguish between consent and knowledge. In other words, in some states both parties have to agree to be recorded, in others both parties merely need to be informed that the recording is taking place. So if you tell the cop you are not wiretapping in some states, whether he wants you to record it or not.

    Knowing this can help with this issue in those states, but I don't have time to look up the code for every state, so check your own yourself....

    http://www.rcfp.org/taping/states.html
    (this is intended for reporters though, so it may not address this issue in enough detail, but it does for some states.)

    Here is an example for Washington State where I live:

    Wash. Rev. Code § 9.73.030. The all-party consent requirement can be satisfied if “one party has announced to all other parties engaged in the communication or conversation, in any reasonably effective manner, that such communication or conversation is about to be recorded or transmitted.”

    In effect, you just tell the police officer you are recording, it is then his choice whether to continue speaking to you or not. If he chooses to continue speaking knowing he is being recorded then he has given consent be default.

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    The closest thing I have seen is theopen fields doctrine by the supreme court, which established that one has no right to privacy in public. No right to privacy = game on to record in the few states where you have the two party concern. Very few of these states that restrict recording include oral conversations, and even then most include the privacy language. The only one I can think of is MA where you can't tape seceretly, even the police, even outdoors.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_fields_doctrine

    That case in PA is VERY interesting on several levels. First of all, the case was filed in the middle of December and was over, shortly 30 days after that. That is screaming fast for a case, considering they have 20 days to respond to the case and file an answer.

    The township didn't even answer it, took one look at the case,and just went straight into settlement talks.

    The other interesting thing is that the case was settled, and the settlement agreement was made public.

    I have attached the settlement agreement here.

    In the settlement agreement, the township explicitly states and agrees that under the first amendment, citizens have a right to video AND/or audio record the police. This is apparently at odds with what the PA state law says at first glance, however it seems the PA supreme court has ruled (Commonwealth v Henlen and others) several times that an expectation of privacy must be present. It doesn't seem that the PA wiretapping statute has much to go on as far as caselaw and recording the cops.

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    KBCraig wrote:
    NightOwl wrote:
    That example sounds to me like it reinforces that supreme court rulings are nationwide. If any state has a law that's applicable to, then they abide by the findings of the supreme court. Yes?
    Yes. But it often takes another ruling to decide if the other state's law is sufficiently similar to make the ruling applicable.

    Look at Heller: some locales decided to reverse their handgun bans, because they didn't want to spend millions defending a case they would probably lose. Other cities, bigger ones like Chicago, decided they would vociferously defend their handgun ban, no matter the cost.

    So while Heller applies nationwide, there remain places where handguns are banned by law. Those local laws won't be overturned until court cases work their way through the system and Heller is found to apply.
    Thanks. Some folks just gotta learn the hard way, it seems...at taxpayer expense no less. Well, it'll make a few people a fair chunk of change along the way I guess.

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