The Volokh Conspiracy

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Federal Court Bristles at Litigant's Recording and Posting of Phone Conversations with Court Staff


From Chief Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford (D. Vt.) in today's Order to Show Cause in Crosson v. North Country Federal Credit Union:

Kimberly Crosson has filed multiple lawsuits in this court in which she represents herself. In 2021 alone, she filed eighteen cases. She frequently contacts the clerk's office by telephone to seek information about her cases and court procedures. The court has recently learned that she records these conversations and posts the recordings to YouTube.

Recording telephone conversations with court staff without permission and publishing these conversations on the internet is inappropriate conduct. It is not illegal under federal or Vermont law to record a conversation so long as one participant (here, Ms. Crosson) consents. As a matter of court policy, however, the court protects its staff from recording and publication of phone calls. Recording and publication may unfairly expose a staff member to online harassment or other misconduct.

The court is a public forum and court filings and proceedings are open to all with few exceptions. But calling a staff member seeking an explanation or answer to a question which becomes public can place the staff member in an unfair position of appearing to provide a public comment on a pending case.

The court has scheduled a hearing for July 6, 2021, at [2:00] p.m. to provide Ms. Crosson with an opportunity to explain her reason(s) for the publication. In particular, the court will ask her to show cause why she should not be limited to contact with the court by mail, email, in-­person visits to the court's public counters, or electronic filing. Ms. Crosson shall appear for the hearing in person. If she does not appear, the court will enter an order limiting her contact with court personnel to mail, email, and in person or electronic filing.