Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Malicious Prosecution

Man arrested for filming an encounter with a Maryland Police officer. Watch the video that is linked.

I have 3 basic comments on this:

1. Prosecutorial Abuse - Listen to how incredibly stupid the Harford County Prosecutor Sounds. He states that the victim/arrestee wore a camera to intentionally incite an incident from a police officer so that he could later post a "gotcha" moment on Youtube. However, given that the camera was mounted to his helmet (clearly visible) and that the arresting officer was an off-duty officer in an unmarked vehicle. That explanation seems contrived, stupid and even evil in the sense that it is used to justify arresting someone and charging them with a crime that could net a five-year prison sentence. This is nothing but a charade and ultimately the individual is being charged more because of "contempt of cop" than because he recorded anyone.

2. Is this against the law - The video is correct that Maryland is a 2 party consent state, meaning that both parties must consent to the recording. However, my understanding of the law (without much research - admittedly) is that there is an exception to the law, which requires a reasonable expectation of privacy. The ACLU is correct that this recording occurred on a public road and in public view. However, it is also a depiction of a public official operating in an official capacity to enforce public laws. How can something so public contain a reasonable expectation of privacy? Finally, since the police have, apparently, released the video to the media (granted they blur the face of the officer), aren't they ultimately consenting to having the video and audio played publicly? I mean, if it's so private and potentially harmful, why did the officer and the police department allow the media to access it.

3. This is a bad law anyway - It is amazing how the government is only really concerned about privacy when it comes to criticism of its agencies. Again, this is a public official given way more authority than the average citizen. Why should he have any privacy at all when performing public duties? If I were to go into court and tell the judge that I did not consent to having my testimony recorded, I'd be slapped down pretty quickly and informed that the public proceeding trumps my desire not to be recorded. It's also pretty stupid that the spoken word is given more privacy rights than say - a private e-mail exchange or text or IM. Given the now countless examples we have of police officers lying (and getting busted later on camera), shouldn't we encourage the recording of police officers whenever they engage the public?

Just wanted to update to add this link to Reason's coverage of this story.

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Blogger The Management said...

I just told someone that I'm glad they stopped by the Blog, but it hasn't been updated in forever... Like 10 minutes ago... Maybe I should start some posting too!

4:04 PM  

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