Maryland Court Rules Citizens Have Right to Videotape Officers in Public

We have been discussing the abusive trend across the country of police departments arresting citizens for videotaping them in public. Now, in Maryland, Circuit Court Judge Emory A Pitt Jr. has ruled that a Maryland State Trooper was wrong to arrest Anthony Graber for filming him brandishing his weapon at a traffic stop. The basis of the decision is precisely what many of us have been arguing for months (here and here and here and here): police officers have no expectation of privacy in public arrests and conduct.

The ruling turned on the interpretation of Maryland’s surveillance law but the reasoning is readily applicable to other states. Judge Pitt held “Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation.” Bravo.

My concern is the lack of condemnation for not only the officers who brought these abusive charges but the prosecutors who fought to punish citizens for videotaping the officers. While one congressman has taken the lead in condemning these cases, Maryland officials for the most part seemed perfectly happy to let this case establish a crime of filming police.

Source: Baltimore Sun

Jonathan Turley

10 thoughts on “Maryland Court Rules Citizens Have Right to Videotape Officers in Public

  1. Police Officers while one duty….have an expectation of Privacy? Unless on SOD or something under cover….well….that is like saying …. I can beat you and get away with it because its my word against you….na ne nah ne na na…..

  2. This is a triumph … back to the drawing board, Officer, time to find a new excuse … or you could try actually following the written guidelines of your own department …

  3. As a Maryland resident, this is good. It’s about time the public can use technology to protect themselves from aggressive cops.

  4. That it required a reasonable man like Judge Pitt to announce this self-evident principle is the tragedy. In saner times the foolish position of the state would not have been tolerated by its citizens who would have made it abundantly clear that you argue this sophistry at your electoral peril. When did we become so enamored of our public servants that we tolerate any manner of abuse upon our fellows? It is not the react of the citizen, but that of the vassal, firmly convinced that only the state can protect him, when in truth, it is he who protects the wrongdoings of the state which ultimately imperil him more than any remote possibility of violent crime.

    “When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.”

    -George Bernard Shaw

  5. “When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation.”
    ————————————————
    how could it be any other way now that there are cameras at every intersection and in every store and government building? If there were any claim to breach of privacy it would be from citizens who have suffered Big Brother for quite a while without too much ado from the bully pulpit…

  6. @mespo

    you ask ” When did we become so enamored of our public servants that we tolerate any manner of abuse upon our fellows?”

    I’ll tell you that I was criminally prosecuted without a written statement of probable cause associated with a police report that says I stood on the street and said that the city council president was violating the constitution by violating the zoning. [zoning is based on the 14th amendment see Euclid v. Ambler 272 US 365 (1926)]. Based on that a restraining order was issued on me and the police any my neighbor followed me around for almost a year until we finally fled from Steamboat Springs CO.

    Absolutely no one would help me with this. Even today when I point out that there was no statutory basis for the restraining order and that a criminal prosecution requires a written statement that a law was broken and these are the reasons to believe that the charged person violated it, no one cares at all. When I point out that at 701 Princeton Ave in Steamboat Springs CO there are three extra buildings belonging to the former city council president (a convicted felon) that aren’t on the property tax rolls for Routt County Colorado, no one cares. When I showed the police a bullet hole through my window, they just shrugged. When I offered proof of perjury, the Steamboat Police chief told me to take my papers and get out of his office.

  7. Another typo, I need Preview or Edit

    Based on the criminal prosecution that didn’t have a written statement of probable cause, without a public request by the district attorney, a restraining order was issued on me and the police and my neighbor Jane Bennett followed me around for almost a year until we finally fled from Steamboat Springs Colorado.

    I was ordered that I must stay 30 feet from my neighbor at all times. That was difficult because the 30 feet included my yard and went into my house and she followed me around.

Comments are closed.