PetaPixel

Court Upholds Citizens’ Right to Turn Cameras on Police Officers

Boston lawyer Simon Glik was arrested on October 1, 2007 when he used his cell phone to record officers making a drug arrest, and later sued the city and the officers for violating his rights. After the officers tried to having the lawsuit dismissed on the basis of qualified immunity, a Federal Appeals Court denied the motion last week and ruled that filming and photographing police is in fact protected by the First Amendment. They also note that the rights extend not just to professional news gatherers, but ordinary citizens as well:

[...] changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

This is great news for photographers’ rights (in the United States, at least).

Opinion No. 10-176 (via UniversalHUB via A Photo Editor)


Image credit: gavel by s_falkow


 
  • chuck

    Does this override then local areas that prohibit the filming of officers?

  • http://www.kbledsoephoto.com Kaitlin

    Chuck- I’d imagine so. Obviously, since it’s a 1st Amendment right written into the Constitution of the United States.

  • http://www.kbledsoephoto.com Kaitlin

    Chuck- I’d imagine so. Obviously, since it’s a 1st Amendment right written into the Constitution of the United States.

  • William Barnett-Lewis

    Meaningless until SCOTUS agrees. Even then it only means something if you have the $$$ to fight the police. 

  • Sarah

    Maybe someone will now rule on allowing citizens to video elected officials without having their phones or cameras confiscated (see Chabat, R-OH last week).

  • Corey

    It doesn’t directly overturn laws forbidding this, but it does set a very strong precedent, especially since the First Amendment was cited as part of the verdict. In effect, a state/city could attempt to prosecute you for this, but it would be extremely unlikely that you would lose or have to even bother appealing.

  • Corey

    It doesn’t directly overturn laws forbidding this, but it does set a very strong precedent, especially since the First Amendment was cited as part of the verdict. In effect, a state/city could attempt to prosecute you for this, but it would be extremely unlikely that you would lose or have to even bother appealing.

  • Corey

    It doesn’t directly overturn laws forbidding this, but it does set a very strong precedent, especially since the First Amendment was cited as part of the verdict. In effect, a state/city could attempt to prosecute you for this, but it would be extremely unlikely that you would lose or have to even bother appealing.

  • Corey

    It doesn’t directly overturn laws forbidding this, but it does set a very strong precedent, especially since the First Amendment was cited as part of the verdict. In effect, a state/city could attempt to prosecute you for this, but it would be extremely unlikely that you would lose or have to even bother appealing.

  • Corey

    Not true. Unless this verdict is appealed to the Supreme Court (and accepted) a lower court can’t ignore/overrule this decision. You could still potentially end up in a legal battle, but given this precedent you could probably easily snag a pro-bono lawyer (or get ACLU backing).

  • Tim Fox

    The quote is sexist and there shouldn’t be a difference between a journalist and private citizens. Anyone can be a journalist, and journalist are private citizens anyways. Regardless, this is excellent news, I can’t wait to take advantage of this law.

  • http://profiles.google.com/kg2vny Charles Gallo

    Sort of – it ONLY applies in the 1st District.  In other districts, it may or may not apply, they don’t HAVE to recognise other districts rulings

  • Corey

    Thanks for the clarification, Charles. I wasn’t aware the distinction.

  • Corey

    Thanks for the clarification, Charles. I wasn’t aware the distinction.