Supreme Court gets one right

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mcrain, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Location:
    Illinois
    #1
    So, let's say you are sitting in your living room, and you look out your window to see police officers beating defenseless children with their batons. Perhaps you see them urinating on them. Or, maybe waterboarding them on the back of their squadcars. Anyway, imagine any scenario where the police were acting in a way that could be seen as criminal or a violation of civil rights.

    You pull out your cell phone and begin recording. In Illinois, and elsewhere, you would have been committing a felony. The police would have had the right to demand that you cease recording, take your phone, and arrest you.

    The US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal saying that was no longer the case.

    This is a big deal, and thankfully the right decision.

     
  2. Huntn Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
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    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #2
    While some national security issues should be conducted in a confidential manner, there is absolutely no reason I can see why it would be illegal for a citizen to document a public encounter between the police and those accused of breaking the law. This kind of interaction is something society should not want to be kept a secret.
     
  3. mcrain thread starter macrumors 68000

    mcrain

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Illinois
    #3
    I agree. Have you watched COPS or Wildest Police Chases? Many police cars are equipped with cameras and recording devices, so the officers already are aware that they might be recorded.

    What I saw happen in case after case was that the recording devices were "malfunctioning" or "broken" and hadn't been fixed yet, so there was no recording of an arrest. In other situations, the police station recordings (and in some cases, the recordings from the cars) were on a 24hr. loop so that if the defendant or their counsel didn't request that the recording be immediately preserved, it was automatically recorded over. The effect being that if you were arrested on Monday, but not assigned an attorney until the following day, the recording would be erased by the time the attorney was provided discovery or even a police report.

    Why? Why you might ask? DUIs and other arrests were being tossed out at an alarming rate due to procedural errors that the videos contained. I have seen dozens of police reports that indicate miranda warnings, proper procedure, meticulous detail in the sobriety checks, consent to perform breathalizer testing, only to be completely discredited upon viewing of the video.
     
  4. Happybunny macrumors 68000

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    #4
    After Rodney King, I cannot see why there was ever a problem, well done Supreme Court.
     
  5. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    Aug 17, 2009
    #6
    How would this apply to the ubiquitous security cameras? Are owners of these systems somehow enjoined from releasing their material at their own discretion?
     
  6. mcrain thread starter macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #7
    The thing that got people in trouble was that the videos were considered "recordings" under the eavesdropping laws because they had audio.
     
  7. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #8
    Even without audio someone like Marlee Matlin would have no problem, if she could see their lips. ;)
     
  8. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #9
    Goodbye to a poorly written law. I worry about unforeseen circumstances whenever legislation is pushed through.
     
  9. NickZac macrumors 68000

    NickZac

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    Dec 11, 2010
    #10
    The reason they do not want others to record is because of how their recording is used. When you are read rights, you are told "anything you say can and will be used against you"...it doesn't say a word about helping you or substantiating your claim. The fundamental purpose of police is to protect the interests of the state, not the citizen. This is a major reason any defense attorney will tell you not to talk to cops. It never does any good, only the opposite. There is a misconception that police exist to protect people; that is not an entirely accurate belief.
     
  10. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    Mar 22, 2010
    #11
    The people are the state.

    What is the state if it's not the people and the property they own?

    What other "interests" do the police protect?
     
  11. NickZac macrumors 68000

    NickZac

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    Dec 11, 2010
    #12
    Technically, I would agree that people are the state if we were discussing democracy. But we are talking about police obligation (and hence reason why the videotaping is such an issue).

    The primary purpose is upholding order, of course, and protecting state interests (as in public interests, not you or I unless we happen to coincide with this). It is not your property they are defending. They are not required whatsoever to defend your property or you unless you are someone with a special relationship that carries a different set of obligations. Multiple high court cases has reaffirmed this again, again, and again.

    And then in many cases, police protect each other (for example, the Blue Shielf of Silence).'

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Columbia#cite_note-3
     
  12. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    #13
    You've once again used the term "state interests" without describing what that actually means.

    I believe it means the people and/or their property.

    You mention "upholding order", but this is only done because disorder can be a threat to the people and/or their property.

    What are these "state interests" that you believe the police are in charge of protecting?
     
  13. mcrain thread starter macrumors 68000

    mcrain

    Joined:
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    Illinois
    #14
    Ok, I'll give you one. Keeping roads safe and preventing DUIs. In that case, an officer might observe a car weaving and/or doing something else giving rise to probable cause to stop the vehicle. Usually, this is not on tape, and the evidence that is used to justify the stop is merely officer testimony and/or a report written by the officer. In other words, an entire case rests squarely on whether the officer (who knows the system) can describe a typical probable cause scenerio while on the stand. There is nothing to counter the officer's description other than the word of someone who is a defendant (or their passengers).

    Ok, so you get past PC and now the officer has contact with the defendant. Usually, these contacts are done with the in-vehicle camera operating (lights on) as well as officer mic recording. Here, the officer has to avoid violating your personal rights, or the case might be thrown out. If the officer does the FSTs incorrectly, fails to obtain proper permission, searches without first having sufficient PC, an arrest, or permission, etc., the entire case might be tossed. All of these things are sometimes observable from a video.

    Trust me when I tell you the officers know exactly what the video camera can and cannot see. You will often see questionable FSTs occur to the side, off camera entirely, or partially obscured, while an obviously drunk person is front and center.

    Anyway, the point is that additional video can often ruin cases where the officer is attempting in good faith to protect the interests of the state, but because of the video, some violation of an individuals rights might be seen.
     
  14. NickZac macrumors 68000

    NickZac

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2010
    #15
    Order. Disorder is a threat to a government and commerce, and a threat to authority. Threats to people can coincide with state interests but they are concepts that are not always related and do not necessarily address individual concern. Police are not required to defend individual citizen interests. You can call 911 and there is no requirement for police to respond to your personal residence.

    edit: let me elaborate. State interests are in the macro.
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/State+Interest


    This I agree with. Getting drunks off the road, while beneficial to individuals, is largely part of keeping order. Two interests overlap.

    If a cop says something in court that contradicts what you say, the court will almost never invoke the usage of video recordings to defend citizens. However, if the video recordings can defend the officers, they will be used. This video was never intended to benefit individual citizens. A quick YouTube search will reveal hundreds of home videos of police misconduct and violent reaction from the officers, including ones which deny basic Constitutional rights.
     

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