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Thread: Are dash cams fair game for records requests if you are facing charges?

  1. #1
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    Are dash cams fair game for records requests if you are facing charges?

    Since there are public records experts here, I just wanted to see if anyone could tell me what part of the law would prohibit a record from being accessible if they are being used as evidence.

    For instance, say you were given a traffic citation and you believe that the dash cam might exonerate you. Could you request the dash cam under NRS 239 or is there some law that would allow them to not let you look at it because it is criminal evidence being used against you? I was told that because it is evidence they cannot show it without a court order.

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    You can request it via subpoena but it's unlikely you'll get anything. Newer Washoe County Sherriff patrol vehicls are no longer equiped with video due to costs. I can only assume Reno and Sparks are the same away. Even if they are equipped they would only be activated when the overheads are on. So unless your alleged crime happened while the overheads were actived AND the vehicle had a recording device... your screwed and it's your word against the officers.

    I just went through this by getting my first ticket in 10+ years. I was travling North and made a right (east) turn on a green and an oncoming car (southbound) traffic turned left (east) and almost hit my rear quaterpanel. We both were turning onto a single lane road so I had the right of way. The oncoming vehicle turning left across traffic should have given the right of way. When this incident happened a WCSD was traveling West on the road we turned on. He turned around and got behind the other vehicle. Turned on hs overheads went passed the other vehicle, pulled me over and cited me.

    I decided to fight the citation because I was in the right and had not violated the law I was cited for.

    now play this tune in your head.... I fought the law and the law won.

    When I went to court I was 100% prepared, or at least I thought I was. I questioned the officer on the stand and kicked his ass! After I had proved that in fact I had not violated the law I was cited for and requested an immediate ruling of not guilty the DA stood up and requested that the charge be amended to another law. Note that this is essentially the end of the trial. Motion granted.

    The judge advised me that I could request a continuance. I asked and was granted a moment to familerize myself with the amended charge but did not ask for a continuance. I read the law really quick and noted a couple things I could use for my defense. I then proceeded to Kick the DA's ass and prove my self innocent of this ammended charge. I again asked the Judge to find an immediate ruling of not guilty. The DA stood up again and requested to re-amend the charge. Motion granted.

    The judge again advisd me that I could request a continuance. I took another moment to familerize myself with this re-amended charge. I should have taken the continuance and studied the law in depth. It came down to the officers 30 years of experiance versus my 25 years of no accident driving experience. Even though I raised various issues concerning the Deputies memory and recollection the judge still ruled in his favor.

    Just so you know. I did a couple things wrong. I got cocky. I didn't know the DA could change the charge (twice) after the trial started let alone at the end of it and I didn't ask for a continuance. A continuance alone would have got me off simply due to the time of the trial. Under Nevada state law they have 60 days to give you a fair trial after your arrianment. If I would have asked for a continuance but insisted my rights to a speedy trial remain intact they would have had to drop the charges or maybe re-file. Not sure how that works. Had I studied the law for more than 30 seconds during trial I would have found the way through it and raised reasonable doubt again. Either way would have been fine with me.

    60 dollar fine and 70 bucks in admin fees for a total of 130.00 smackers. It was well worth it though since I cost the county upwards of a grand just to put on the trial and I learned how the process works a little more. I gotta tell you, no matter how much you want it to be "innocent until proven guilty beyond a resonable doubt", you are "Guilty until proven innocent beyond any doubt".

    Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomidlname View Post
    You can request it via subpoena but it's unlikely you'll get anything. Newer Washoe County Sherriff patrol vehicls are no longer equiped with video due to costs. I can only assume Reno and Sparks are the same away. Even if they are equipped they would only be activated when the overheads are on. So unless your alleged crime happened while the overheads were actived AND the vehicle had a recording device... your screwed and it's your word against the officers.

    I just went through this by getting my first ticket in 10+ years. I was travling North and made a right (east) turn on a green and an oncoming car (southbound) traffic turned left (east) and almost hit my rear quaterpanel. We both were turning onto a single lane road so I had the right of way. The oncoming vehicle turning left across traffic should have given the right of way. When this incident happened a WCSD was traveling West on the road we turned on. He turned around and got behind the other vehicle. Turned on hs overheads went passed the other vehicle, pulled me over and cited me.

    I decided to fight the citation because I was in the right and had not violated the law I was cited for.

    now play this tune in your head.... I fought the law and the law won.

    When I went to court I was 100% prepared, or at least I thought I was. I questioned the officer on the stand and kicked his ass! After I had proved that in fact I had not violated the law I was cited for and requested an immediate ruling of not guilty the DA stood up and requested that the charge be amended to another law. Note that this is essentially the end of the trial. Motion granted.

    The judge advised me that I could request a continuance. I asked and was granted a moment to familerize myself with the amended charge but did not ask for a continuance. I read the law really quick and noted a couple things I could use for my defense. I then proceeded to Kick the DA's ass and prove my self innocent of this ammended charge. I again asked the Judge to find an immediate ruling of not guilty. The DA stood up again and requested to re-amend the charge. Motion granted.

    The judge again advisd me that I could request a continuance. I took another moment to familerize myself with this re-amended charge. I should have taken the continuance and studied the law in depth. It came down to the officers 30 years of experiance versus my 25 years of no accident driving experience. Even though I raised various issues concerning the Deputies memory and recollection the judge still ruled in his favor.

    Just so you know. I did a couple things wrong. I got cocky. I didn't know the DA could change the charge (twice) after the trial started let alone at the end of it and I didn't ask for a continuance. A continuance alone would have got me off simply due to the time of the trial. Under Nevada state law they have 60 days to give you a fair trial after your arrianment. If I would have asked for a continuance but insisted my rights to a speedy trial remain intact they would have had to drop the charges or maybe re-file. Not sure how that works. Had I studied the law for more than 30 seconds during trial I would have found the way through it and raised reasonable doubt again. Either way would have been fine with me.

    60 dollar fine and 70 bucks in admin fees for a total of 130.00 smackers. It was well worth it though since I cost the county upwards of a grand just to put on the trial and I learned how the process works a little more. I gotta tell you, no matter how much you want it to be "innocent until proven guilty beyond a resonable doubt", you are "Guilty until proven innocent beyond any doubt".

    Good luck!
    The judge knew that granting you a continuance would have resulted in the charges being dropped, but he's only allowed to tell you what your options are. Telling you why you should or should not choose to accept a continuance would be legal advice which he is not allowed to give.

    I've also seen prosecutors attempt to amend the charge to something other than what was originally charged, on two occasions. both times the judge shot the prosecutor down, I think the funniest was when the judge said, "I'm not going to let you make a circus of the justice system by changing the violation until you find one that sticks."

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felid`Maximus View Post
    Since there are public records experts here, I just wanted to see if anyone could tell me what part of the law would prohibit a record from being accessible if they are being used as evidence.

    For instance, say you were given a traffic citation and you believe that the dash cam might exonerate you. Could you request the dash cam under NRS 239 or is there some law that would allow them to not let you look at it because it is criminal evidence being used against you? I was told that because it is evidence they cannot show it without a court order.
    Under the Rule of Discovery, you have the right to get all evidence which is to be used against you, or which is likely to be used. You may also have all evidence which might possibly serve to exonerate you.

    That's the good news.

    The bad news is that you need to subpoena those records, and you have to be specific -- you can't just say "all evidence which may exonerate me", you have to give dates, times, etc. You, as defendant, have the power of subpoena through the court, so that's where you go for it. A subpoena IS a court order.

    Did you see a dash cam? You may need to find out which patrol car was being driven at the time, and specify the video from that car's cam.

    Also subpoena the officer's notebook and audio recordings made of radio traffic and the officer's pocket recorder.

    I once saw a case where the trooper had issued a citation for no seat belt, but the dash cam clearly showed the defendant removing the belt to get his wallet out of his pocket. Turns out that the seat belt and the shirt the man was wearing were the same color, so the trooper didn't see the belt.
    Last edited by DVC; 12-23-2010 at 03:49 PM.

  5. #5
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    NRS 239 requires public access to all non-confidential records, including any dash cam footage. The exception would be if the camera footage contained confidential information, which state law defines as (NRS 239.0105):

    NRS 239.0105 Records of a local governmental entity are confidential and not public books or records within the meaning of NRS 239.010 if:
    (a) The records contain the name, address, telephone number or other identifying information of a natural person; and
    (b) The natural person whose name, address, telephone number or other identifying information is contained in the records provided such information to the local governmental entity for the purpose of:
    (1) Registering with or applying to the local governmental entity for the use of any recreational facility or portion thereof that the local governmental entity offers for use through the acceptance of reservations; or
    (2) On his or her own behalf or on behalf of a minor child, registering or enrolling with or applying to the local governmental entity for participation in an instructional or recreational activity or event conducted, operated or sponsored by the local governmental entity.

    NRS 239.0113 puts the burden of proof upon the government for establishing that a record is confidential and NRS 239.010 requires a government entity to provide access to the requested record containing confidential information if it is able to remove the confidential information (NRS 239.010 Paragraph 3):

    3. A governmental entity that has legal custody or control of a public book or record shall not deny a request made pursuant to subsection 1 to inspect or copy a public book or record on the basis that the requested public book or record contains information that is confidential if the governmental entity can redact, delete, conceal or separate the confidential information from the information included in the public book or record that is not otherwise confidential.

    And finally, NRS 239.001 stipulates explicitly that access be granted to most records, and denials be few:

    NRS 239.001 Legislative findings and declaration. The Legislature hereby finds and declares that:
    1. The purpose of this chapter is to foster democratic principles by providing members of the public with access to inspect and copy public books and records to the extent permitted by law;
    2. The provisions of this chapter must be construed liberally to carry out this important purpose; and
    3. Any exemption, exception or balancing of interests which limits or restricts access to public books and records by members of the public must be construed narrowly.

    Since a dashboard camera typically only records in public, and the same material is recordable by any one in public, my opinion is that it would be a very tough claim that any such records would be confidential. If the camera did capture something that is considered confidential, such as someone's name, address, social security number, etc. it should be a simple matter to mute that portion of the video on the copy being released to you.

  6. #6
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    The only reason I can fathom why a department would remove dash cams from their cruisers is because defendants are using them to successfully defend themselves or they are being used to prove police misconduct in civil court resulting in damages.

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    Dash cams are fair game. Here are some tips:

    Get a CAD report, (computer aided Dispatch) You can get it with your ticket / event #
    Always get an event # when you have an encounter, So you can get a CAD.

    You should be able to ask for the CAD in discovery, but it is not generally given up. I get mine outside of the discovery, and here is why. When you obtain the CAD, it will look unimportant. However it will have all your times of all pertinant changes in your stop, including total time of stop.

    You want the CAD so you can compare to the video, and make sure it is not edited. there are a certain amount of videos that have "technical difficulty's and I have dealt with this first hand. If they are willing to edit the dash cam, they would not hesitate on the CAD.

    It sounds like you played in Justice court. The name is about as correct as the Patriot act name.
    Justice courts are (for the most part) not Courts of record. And (ready for this) your judge did not have to spend 1 day in law school. (Look up Judge VanLandershoot in NLV)
    I went into his court, mopped the floor with the Cop, and the prosecutor. THe Judge said and I quote, "The Law Does Not Matter In my Court"

    Justice Courts are designed to collect revenue only. They are so pathetic that when you file an appeal, it is called "Trial De Nova" I have one starting Jan 5th. I get to go plead not guilty again, like the first court never happened.

    It cost $12.00 to file and you have to Bail on your fines, (or pay them) But how cool. I encourage more to do it. I have Discovery forms that I have used with success, as well as District court appeal, forms. Anyone interested in litigating, can PM me and I will help you through the proccess. It is very empowering, and there is always a time and place for an attorney, but if it is alwys the Attorney kicking their butts, what motive do they have to respect WE THE PEOPLE....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nevada carrier View Post
    The only reason I can fathom why a department would remove dash cams from their cruisers is because defendants are using them to successfully defend themselves or they are being used to prove police misconduct in civil court resulting in damages.
    They cost money to maintain, and the older ones are breaking down even with proper maintenance.

    However, it only takes one or two drunk stops for them to pay for themselves, so yeah, the big reason to take them is is that they provide defendants with proof of misconduct. Ever see the Utah taser video? It not only shows the trooper making procedural and legal mistakes, it shows him lying to the backup deputy who arrives first. There's one camera that UHP wishes they hadn't installed . . .

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DON`T TREAD ON ME View Post
    It sounds like you played in Justice court. The name is about as correct as the Patriot act name.
    Justice courts are (for the most part) not Courts of record. And (ready for this) your judge did not have to spend 1 day in law school. (Look up Judge VanLandershoot in NLV)
    I went into his court, mopped the floor with the Cop, and the prosecutor. THe Judge said and I quote, "The Law Does Not Matter In my Court"

    Justice Courts are designed to collect revenue only.
    Not hardly.

    DISCLAIMER: I am a former Western-state appointed judge, who "did not have to spend 1 day in law school" (except as a guest lecturer).

    First, NO judge has to "spend 1 day in law school." Judges in justice court MAY be appointed (the same way supreme court justices are appointed), but many are elected. An elective-office judge likewise has no educational requirements (and, in fact, may have been appointed to fill out the term of a judge who has left office in mid-term, which is how I got onto the bench the first time).

    Some of the finest judges I have known were in justice courts, because they didn't want to make a career of it (or had retired from careers in municipal and superior court, and were asked to serve their towns). One major advantage of justice court is that a judge has no obligation to serve until the next election, and it doesn't have to be a full-time job.

    Second, while justice courts are often "revenue benches," in most places they are used to take the strain off the superior court system, especially in rural areas. You have the same right of appeal from a justice court that you do from a municipal court. However, a justice court will usually handle "procedural administrative" issues, such as building code violations, local traffic violations (that is, town, city and county traffic laws -- be careful in Oklahoma!), etc. In some areas the Justice of the Peace is the only court at the municipal level, and handles all infraction and misdemeanor cases (including felonies prosecuted as misdemeanors, in states which allow that).

    Third, the law doesn't matter in ANY courtroom. "There is nobody on Earth so much like God on his throne, as a judge on the Bench." If the judge is willing to risk having the case overturned on appeal -- and is willing to risk removal from the bench (every state has a commission overseeing judicial conduct) -- he or she can give you a jail term for having appeared on a Tuesday with your hat turned sideways. That's how precedents are made. In the case of the US Supreme Court, the law IS what a majority of the justices say it is, after lower courts couldn't agree (a case goes from court to appeal to the USSC, and only those cases which the Supremes choose to take will be brought before them).

    On the other side of that coin, we have jury nullification, which can only be countered by "directed verdicts" (which are nearly always appealed anyhow).

    Many non-law-school judges are MORE familiar with the law than those who got a law degree. Consider B-Student Barack, with his Harvard degree (magna cum laude) -- would you want him sitting on YOUR open-carry case? Or would you rather have a justice of the peace, who lives in your town and who takes a 10-minute recess to look up the law as it stands on that morning?

    Consider the thread regarding the Clark County regulation, which exempts firearms with a barrel length over 12 inches. The re-elected-since-1970 judge may overlook it, the JP will probably not.

    Anyway, you just need to be careful when making comments about judges. No two are alike. If you are ever brought before the Bar, you hope you get one who knows the law, or is willing to look it up, rather than ruling on what he thinks is right.

  10. #10
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    This is in response to DVC,

    Thank you for substantiating my points. Most people believe that all Judges are "practiced in Law" (you helped me with that one)

    The "Judge on a bench,like God on the throne" Is exactly what I experienced. However you think the Judge can be correctly disciplined, and I have looked into that, however you need to take into count that NLV is NOT a court of record. even though the taxpayers have provided all the neccessary equip.)

    So it is my word against "God on the throne" I choose Appeal, over complaint.

    That judge is the only one that can make his Court irrelevant, and mine sure did. It sounds like it happens alot, and you seem aware of it.

    I do not believe that I "lumped all Judges in the same mold" However if I did, please show me where so I can retract.

    I believe that sunshine is the best medicine, and that the public needs to know what happens in court, (6th amendment) since that judge does not want to recognize the law. we need to encourage the people to take it over his head, rendering him useless.

    It resembles the dash cam issue. lots of cops get busted by their own dash cam, see www.injusticeeverywhere.com That is what needs to happen more often so that there is an equalizing power. If you have a (What happens in my Court, Stays in my Court) situation, you have the breeding grounds for injustice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DON`T TREAD ON ME View Post
    The "Judge on a bench,like God on the throne" Is exactly what I experienced. However you think the Judge can be correctly disciplined, and I have looked into that, however you need to take into count that NLV is NOT a court of record. even though the taxpayers have provided all the neccessary equip.)
    That doesn't matter. The JP is a judge under law, appointed or elected to serve the community with the power to levy penalties which are enforceable by bench warrant, and as such is under the authority of the judicial conduct commission.

    However, your best recourse is appeal.

    As far as not being "practiced in Law," I would point out that we have a President who hasn't held a real job since Baskin-Robbins fired him in his teens. It would seem that people don't care about competence anymore anyhow.

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    BTW, while I not only won't give you specific information on where I served (and in fact will misdirect you if pressed ), I will mention that I took the bench reluctantly, raising the issue of my lack of practice in the law when my predecessor asked me to take over for him.

    I was told "I'm asking you because I've read some of what you wrote [I used to do a syndicated opinion column], you seem to know what you're doing, and you obviously are able to read. Each time you get into a code that you haven't seen before, take a minute to read it and note the points -- what constitutes violation, what constitutes exemption, and any precedent case law. You can even read it out loud from the bench. Then you listen to the prosecution and defense, ticking off each point as they are presented. If the prosecutor hits one or more of the requirements for violation, then the defense has a chance to explain exemption or special circumstances. Then you JUDGE the case on merits, decide, and hand down penalty if necessary. That's all there is to it . . .and you would be surprised how many people in robes don't understand this, but that's why we have an appeals process."

    He was right, about the last part especially.

    I am still not an expert in the law, and will never be, but not one of my decisions was appealed, much less overturned, and the county attorney asked me to run for election to that seat, saying "You make good law."
    Last edited by DVC; 12-25-2010 at 03:50 PM. Reason: keyboard glitch loaded post before I was done

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    Does anyone else want to get back to talking about obtaining dash cams and other evidence?

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    Well, along the same lines as dash cams, we might just lose access to radios this year too. Metro has been trying to deploy "OpenSky" for ages, and it looks like it's finally making progress. Experts believe Metro will be completely converted to the new system by Spring 2011 (although, just a caveat - they have been predicting the same 100% conversion for years, and the date continuously slips).

    When OpenSky is finally deployed, no known police scanner can pick it up, and major manufacturers are reluctant to build one due to it's high cost and relatively low penetration in the market. I know we have a lot of gun priorities for the legislature this year, but one area we might want to ask for expansion is NRS 239. Police should not be authorized to switch to a "SECRET" radio system that no one else can monitor. Perhaps recordings will be available, but at what cost? Metro charges $39.00 to print a SINGLE piece of paper called a CAD REPORT. If they charge that for a sheet of paper, what will be the cost for an audio reproduction? And just like a printed sheet of paper, how easily can it be altered?

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    "Secret police need secret communications"

    "If you have nothing to hide, why are you hiding?"

    However, i would point out that there are people who take stuff like Open Sky as a CHALLENGE. You may not see Uniden or GRE with a unit for it anytime soon, but you will see kits and modifications. The weaknesses with Open Sky will soon be exploited, and one of those weaknesses is the large number of different radios which need to communicate with each other.

    I know one guy who wrote a major agency, giving them advice on how to fix the decrypting problems that they were having with their multi-million-dollar "secure" system -- which he had been listening to on an adapter that he built for $50, that linked to his laptop with a USB cable. The laptop decrypted it (even following the periodic shifts in keys), giving him a lag of about two seconds while it did the work.

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