War on Cameras

Free State Project Leader Wins Victory Against Cops Trying to Punish Filming Them

|

Good news from Carla Gericke, current president of the Free State Project (which encourages libertarians to move to New Hampshire and help turn it into a more libertarian land).

FSP

Gericke had been arrested in 2010 by Sgt. Joseph Kelley of the Weare, New Hampshire, police department, for, among other charges, allegedly violating the state's wiretapping statues by attempting to film his actions after he'd pulled over a friend Gericke was driving behind. (The camera she aimed at him wasn't actually working.)

Gericke never went to trial, as the city declined to go ahead with the prosecution. But Gericke went ahead and sued the officer, the department, and city, claiming that the wiretapping charge, as today's decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit said, "constituted retaliatory prosecution in violation of her First Amendment rights."

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit decided that  

she was exercising a clearly established First Amendment right when she attempted to film the traffic stop in the absence of a police order to stop filming or leave the area. We therefore affirm [a lower court decision denying the cops a claim of qualfied immunity against the suit].

The Appeals Court seems to back up an earlier District Court declaration that:

"the officers had no reasonable expectation that their public communications during the traffic stop were not subject to interception…..a reasonable officer should have known that a blanket prohibition on the recording of all traffic stops, no matter the circumstances, was not constitutionally permissible."

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals does admit such a right to film is not unlimited, is subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, and that if it constitutes interference with the officer's duty, it might be permissibly halted. Still, the Appeals Court concludes that:

any reasonable officer would have understood that charging Gericke with illegal wiretapping for attempted filming that had not been limited by any order or law violated her First Amendment right to film.

Thus, their claim that they should have immunity against Gericke's claim that they violated her rights with the charge remains beaten down by the courts.

My 2004 feature on the early days of the Free State Project.

A Reason TV interview with Gericke:

Advertisement

NEXT: Cannes: The Digital Revolution is Changing Filmmaking

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. THERE ARE NO COMMENTS

    I fucking wonder why?

    Anyway..

    Good outcome. Shame it takes years to resolves obvious violations of people’s rights though. Most people do not have the time or resources available to them to fight the casual tyranny engaged in by so many police departments, and I’m sure they count on that. However nice this is it is largely empty if there are no punishments for those occasions where someone is able to take it all the way and win, and I don’t mean punishments for the taxpayers. Until there are consequences for the police as individuals there is no reason for them to change their operating methods.

    1. “The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals does admit such a right to film is not unlimited, is subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, and that if it constitutes interference with the officer’s duty, it might be permissibly halted.

      Way to fumble the fucking ball at the goal line, assholes. The exact meaning of the term “reasonable” to be determined at the digression of those intent on abusing it. Always with the loopholes…

      1. Skwerlz..

      2. These lawsuits are like playing a game of football where the Government team gets awarded a field goal every time the People team scores a touchdown.

      3. ..at the *Discretion* of those intent on abusing it..

    1. Chirp.. chirp.. chirp..

    2. So what now?

      Go to Porcfest! Gillespie is speaking there.

  2. Yay! A win!

    1. Unfortunately, the fact that this kind of shit needs to be fought up the chain of legal command makes this technically a “lose”.

      Any state/city legislature that hasn’t made it their number one priority to write in complete (unrestricted) freedom of the employer (public person) to video record the employee (cop)…. well I’ve lost my way here but I think you can finish it on your own.

      1. “.. We therefore affirm [a lower court decision denying the cops a claim of qualfied immunity against the suit].

        Possibly the only redeeming feature of this judgment…

  3. Carla Gericke…thank you.

    You’re doing more for our freedom than any politician ever would.

    Thank you.

  4. First Amendment rights? This from the person that banned Chris Cantwell from Porecfest, and won’t allow Larken Rose or anybody else speak about the use of force at Porcfest.

    How can you have a libertarian event and not allow discussion about the use of force?

    What is Gillespie going to speak about? He’s one of the keynotes.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.