Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hyphothetical questions

Hyphothetical questions:
You are in a public park with your family. You are taking photos and video of your family outing. A law enforcement individual approaches you and tells you, you are not allowed to take photos of your child. What would you do?

You are on public school property. Your child is participating in a school sponsored activity. It could be track, foot ball, basketball, band, choir, etc. Paid Security tells you "You are not allowed to videotape your child." What would you do?

Your family is in Washington, DC. You are taking photographs of your family infront of the Washington Monument. Law enforcemnt tells you to handover you film or tape. What would you do?


At 6:06 AM, Blogger Phil Marx said...

Oh, I know the answer to this question. Pass out and fall on the floor. Or, in otherwords, assault the police officer.

Bill, I certainly wish you luck if you pursue this issue, but I expect you'll have to put more money than it's worth into it, just to be heard.

I'm working on setting up a blog to chronicle all the drug activity (and police complicity) here in my neighborhood. The results will be the same as if I sued (nothing will be done about it), but at a far lower cost.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger William Larsen said...

It is a shame that this happened. Asking a question should not result in assualt. I enlisted in the US Navy, swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. As a US citizen I have the right and moral obligation to question the state when they extend by implication a statute beyond its plane and literal meaning.

Turns out both police officers admitted there was no law against videotaping of taking photgraphs. the principal testified that neither the school or school system cares one way or the other if a parent videotapes. No one knows who put the signs up! So what were the cops doing?

Here are some cases I have found:

John Doe (name changed to protect the innocent) was videotaping the scene in Freedom Plaza when a Park Police officer asked him if he had a permit to videotape. When Doe refused to turn off his camera, he was arrested! The Park Police sustained Mr. Doe's claim of misconduct, disciplined the police officer and now have paid Mr. Doe a five-figure check for damages to settle the lawsuit filed by the ACLU-NCA on his behalf."

"MASSACHUSETTS--In late March, a federal District Court judge in Boston eliminated $135,000 in punitive damages from a $210,000 judgment awarded to a cable television reporter who was falsely arrested for videotaping discussions following a public town hall meeting in 1991.
Judge Patti Saris reasoned that the arrest of Richard Iacobucci was a "mistake," and that police sergeant Willard Boulter did not act recklessly or with malice in arresting him. Therefore, punitive damages were not justified, she ruled. Saris upheld a $75,000 compensatory damage award -- the first time, according to The Boston Globe, that damages have been awarded for a violation of the public's right to videotape a meeting pursuant to the state open meetings law.

In Sparks, Nevada, video photographer Lin Hale has won a $36,500 suit against the Sparks Police Department for wrongful arrest stemming for videotaping he did in a city garage on the 4th of July.
In an unusual twist, the suit also named police commander Gary Potter, who had arrived on the scene of the arrest and (according to the Reno News & Review) “told [arresting officer] Woodard the arrest was ‘ridiculous’ and told Woodard to release the two men (Woodard didn’t) but also allegedly spoke abusively to the two men.” Chief Potter was included in the suit because he “made a deliberate choice among other options of continuing with Hale’s unlawful arrest.”

Joel Kramer, 39, was arrested and booked for investigation of disorderly conduct after he told a Cache County sheriff’s deputy he was not violating any laws by videotaping the pageant. The pageant depicts the life of Martin Harris, an early disciple of Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“These are free pageants, so there’s no copyright violation, and I’m within my rights to be on public land,” Kramer said. “I feel like it was the LDS Church influence. That’s the reason I was arrested.”
Kramer, who claims the entire incident was recorded on video and audio tape, said he was told by a sheriff’s deputy the LDS Church had requested Kramer turn off his cameras.
At the beginning of each pageant, an announcer asks the audience to refrain from taking photographs or video, Kramer said. “It sounds like law, but it’s a request,” Kramer said. “It would be like me announcing over a loudspeaker that I would like them not to show the pageant.”
Friday night, Kramer said he and three other men from Living Hope Ministries turned off their cameras and tried to reason with the sheriff’s deputy, especially when told the cemetery amphitheater had been leased by the city to the LDS Church. They also changed locations in the cemetery, moving farther away from the amphitheater, but Kramer was still arrested.

No. 99-8199.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eleventh Circuit.
May 31, 2000.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. (No. 97-01753-1-CV-JEC), Julie E. Carnes, Judge.
Before BIRCH and BARKETT, Circuit Judges, and ALARCON1, Senior Circuit Judge.
BARKETT, Circuit Judge:
James and Barbara Smith filed suit against the City of Cumming, Georgia (the "City"), and its police chief, Earl Singletary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the City police had harassed the Smiths, including a claim that Mr. Smith had been prevented from videotaping police actions in violation of Smith's First Amendment rights. They appeal from summary judgment granted to the City and Singletary and from the denial of the Smiths' motion to amend their complaint so as to name another City police chief, Ralph "Buck" Jones,1 as a defendant in the place of a defendant originally identified as "John Doe." We affirm.
As to the First Amendment claim under Section 1983, we agree with the Smiths that they had a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct. The First Amendment protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest. See Blackston v. Alabama, 30 F.3d 117, 120 (11th Cir.1994) (finding that plaintiffs' interest in filming public meetings is protected by the First Amendment); Fordyce v. City of Seattle, 55 F.3d 436, 439 (9th Cir.1995) (recognizing a "First Amendment right to film matters of public interest"); Iacobucci v. Boulter, No. CIV.A. 94-10531 (D.Mass, Mar. 26, 1997) (unpublished opinion)

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