I have to set down my advocacy hat for a while. The short of it is that I have to sign off of the blog for about 13 months because of a job. Not that I’ve been great about maintaining this blog–but I need to explain that and a few other pieces.
As some of you know, until very recently I was only a law student. It’s super hard to maintain a blog and keep up with law school. I was hoping that I could spend more time here, but there was always a new project kicking my ass–be it an internship, law review, a competition, some writing, advocating in the legislature–something. I was dedicated to doing law school right, and I did alright enough–
Carmen Guhn-Knight at the Law Offices of Howard Friedman (they handled the Glik case) informs me that the Department of Justice has affirmed the right to record police and published guidelines on the issue. Their blog post is here, and letter from Justice is here. This is great news.
Three key notes here.
First, I suspect that local Assistant United States Attoneys’ Offices may take up this issue now. I suspect they will be particularly interested in departments that exhibit a pattern and practice of police interfering unlawfully with citizens who record them safely and without interfering. Those with evidence of such a pattern and practice may consider filing a complaint with their local United States Attorney’s Office.
Reader Bradford Mahler pointed out that the Glik case has settled for $170k. Now I don’t yet have a breakdown of how they got to that number, but I suspect the majority of it is because the city knew it was facing serious attorneys’ fees.
So here’s how that works. (After the jump.)
Fellow former Cato Intern Pete Voluntaryist Eyre at CopBlock.org posted a short, pointed lay perspective on encounters between police and the citizens who record them here. He includes links to a number of intense videos.
Because school is picking up, I can’t comment much on the scope of his post. I will say that it is a visceral example of several things. (After the jump.)
As I note in the post below, Fox News CT also picked up the Branford PD story and interviewed me here. Again, they used me for some contrarion soundbytes, but I am 100% in favor of these cameras. The soundbyte on privacy is out of context–I then explain how and why the Fourth Amendment doesn’t protect that, which is missing from the story.
Police in Branford, CT will now be wearing cameras on their body to document their encounters with people who are not police. Reporter Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at the New Haven Register called and asked me a few questions about the new policy. You can read her story here. [UPDATE: Fox News CT also interviewed me on the story here.]
I am all for it. I believe the cameras and policy around them will help police and the people they serve and protect. I think the Branford PD has distinguished itself as forward thinking and invested in best methods and practices.
The reporter didn’t capture all of my comments. Most of my comments mirrored that of Captain Geoffrey Morgan, head of Branford PD’s Public Information Office (also in the story). But just to be clear, I’d like to reiterate some of the points I made to the Register that weren’t in the story, and offer a few additional observations.
(More after the jump.)
I get loads of spam every day. It’s been really hard to sort the spam from the legit comments. I’ll be shifting over to the new Facebook comments system later this week. I just have to make sure that I don’t accidentally delete the whole site when I update the software here. . . .
[Edit 3/14: added Facebook "like" and "send" buttons.]
Today I testified at a hearing on a right to record bill in Connecticut. In Connecticut, giving testimony before a committee means that you make your whole day suck so that you can talk for three minutes, and maybe get a few questions. I did make the six o’clock news on channel 8, WTNH, though, which was pretty nifty. (They didn’t use my favorite sound-byte, but they got the website name out there, so I consider it a win.)
The Questions Asked
The committee asked Senator Martin Looney a storm of questions, including on pending cases in Connecticut, the state of federal and state case law–here and elsewhere, the scope of monetary awards, definitions of terms, the scope of a safety provision, the idea of interfering, why we need the law if the right is protected under federal law, changes in the bil from last year to this year, burdens of proof, and cell phone guns. I told the committee I was prepared to answer questions on these topics, but I received few questions. That makes me wonder how important those questions really were, or if they were posed to Looney just to poke holes in his testimony, rather than in a search for the truth. (If any representatives or senators are reading this, I still welcome those questions and would, if you’d like, post the question and response here, or post your concerns here, unedited.)
So I thought I’d discuss the particulars of the proposed bill along with some of my suggestions. But first to address a key question posed by several members of the committee (and which Martin Looney didn’t answer very well):
Why Do We Need This Law if Federal Law Already Protects the Right?
(more after the jump)
Last year, Connecticut State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney proposed a bill on the right to record police in public. Last year, I gave testimony and suggested some changes to the bill. A heavily modified version passed the Connecticut Senate, but the bill timed-out in the House before a vote. (That’s actually very common in Connecticut the first time a bill comes up.)
That heavily modified version of Looney’s bill is up again this session, this time in the form of S.B. 245 (2012). Tomorrow (Monday March 12, 2012) the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly is holding hearings on the bill. I am going up to Hartford to offer testimony, both oral and written.
Reader Derek sent me this tip. Child takes picture of sleeping substitute teacher. School is embarrassed and disciplines child. As a matter of policy, looks pretty dark stupid of the school. Looks like they’re trying to hide something and retaliating (even if they are not). Bad bad. Not what I would recommend.
But is it Kosher with the First Amendment or no? Student speech is special, and the case law is a bit in flux.