War on Cameras discussed at reason

Radley Balko has an interesting article on the ever increasing arrest of those filming police officers or other government officials. 

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The War on Cameras

It has never been easier—or more dangerous—to record the police.

The day before the trial, Allison went to the Crawford County Courthouse to request a court reporter for the proceedings. “If they were going to convict me of this bogus ordinance violation, I wanted to be sure there was a record of it for my lawsuit,” he says. As he spoke with Crawford County Circuit Court Clerk Angela Reinoehl, Allison showed her his digital recorder, although he says in this instance he wasn’t recording. “I held out the tape recorder to make it clear that if they weren’t going to make a record of this ridiculous farce, I was going to make sure I had one,” he says.

Reinoehl denied the request, but Allison’s promise to record the proceedings apparently came through loud and clear. Just after he walked through the courthouse door the next day, Allison says Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Kimbara Harrell asked him whether he had a tape recorder in his pocket. He said yes. Harrell then asked him if it was turned on. Allison said it was. Harrell then informed the defendant that he was in violation of the Illinois wiretapping law, which makes it a Class 1 felony to record someone without his consent. “You violated my right to privacy,” the judge said.

Allison responded that he had no idea it was illegal to record public officials during the course of their work, that there was no sign or notice barring tape recorders in the courtroom, and that he brought one only because his request for a court reporter had been denied. No matter: After Harrell found him guilty of violating the car ordinance, Allison, who had no prior criminal record, was hit with five counts of wiretapping, each punishable by four to 15 years in prison. Harrell threw him in jail, setting bail at $35,000.

Penn point’s Penn Jillet has a video on this subject. Language Warning!!!

What do you think? 


7 thoughts on “War on Cameras discussed at reason

  1. So in other words it is a One way street with the Law , They can Manipulate us but we cannot protect ourselves??? It’s sorta been that way for a long time now……


  2. The police have always had an advantage. There word against yours. But it seemed there was a time when bringing in more evidence would have been seen as a good thing. Not so much these days. I went to court for a ticket once where the officer was wrong about a lot of the details. I was told I hadn’t proven my case beyond doubt which I thought was the officers job. So just their word will hold much more sway than yours.

    Now this is not a beat up the police post. I support law Enforcement to a point but like all professions not all are professioinal or doing their job in the public interest. In those cases the ability to show what they do or how they do it is the only recourse the public has to ensure and professional force. Video’s are only one piece of the puzzle but to exclude it or threaten normal citizen is a sure path to corruption.

  3. So the article speaks about a Judge and recording in the courtroom. Not so much about recording cops, so not sure what I missed there.

    But I do know that a Judge is God in their courtroom. What they say and do is law. In addition, filming in a government building is usually off limits anyways. So not sure how I feel about this story. I can see both sides.

  4. This particular article did cover courtrooms more but the issue of not being allowed to film something that should be public is troublesome. A courtroom is a public place and if reasonable measures are in place to allow citizens to have their trials recorded I don’t see that as a major problem but filming of police doing their normal jobs is a bit different. While undercover operations I understand and other specific areas. But day to day routine stops on public streets and the performance of police is a public issue. They both (judges and police) work for the public. When filming of either lands you in jail that is a problem. When only one side can present the “facts” that is a problem.

    The fact is the police, prosecutors and judges have their agenda and justice is not always at the top of this. When it’s your word against an officer you will always lose. The addition of quality evidence should be seen as a good thing.

    But of course if you’re a bad cop, judge or prosecutor it will be seen as a threat to the case.

    Are judges the law in courtrooms? Well to the extent they exercise the law but they aren’t suppose to create it. That’s part of the problems we are having these days.

    Yes, filming can be embarrassing but that beats intimidation.

  5. I agree, I dont have much of a problem being filmed in the field doing the job. But dealing with the people you deal with on a daily basis, it still makes your neck hairs stand up when someone (usually, not always, a dirt bag) is filming. I have had my personal vehicle vandalized at a mall on my off time because some dirt bags recognized me. It goes with the territory I suppose, but it still gives me the jitters in wondering what they are going to use the film for. That includes most if not all the bogus IA investigations they start because they just want to f**k with you.

  6. I understand the problem Law Enforcement face and the real fear but in truth the bad guys already know who you are. Now if we could just film lawyers….

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