The state whose motto is “Live Free or Die” has been twisting wiretapping laws to criminally charge citizens who record police in public.
And perhaps not so ironic, the three citizens charged with felony wiretapping within the last year were all involved in the Free State Project, the growing community of liberty-minded activists moving to New Hampshire.
All three citizens were arrested by the Weare Police Department.
The most recent case involves a man named William Alleman, 51, who was pulled over last July for a traffic stop, but was not charged with felony wiretapping until late last month.
According to the UnionLeader:
Alleman said the incident began after he left a gathering to support Palmer’s Tavern owner George Hodgdon, whose arrest days earlier for interfering with an assault investigation caused many to publicly criticize the Weare police.
Alleman said he was followed by a police officer when he left the gathering, attended mostly by members of the libertarian activist group, the Free State Project.
As Officer Brian Montplaisir approached his vehicle, Alleman called Porcupine411, described as “an answering service for Libertarian activists who are in trouble with police.”
The ensuing conversation then ended up recorded on a voice message.
Now Alleman is facing seven years in prison.
However, Alleman has retained the same attorney who represented two other Free State Project members who were arrested last year on similar charges, but had their cases dropped.
Attorney Seth Hipple, of the Martin and Hipple law office, is representing Alleman as well as Carla Gericke and William Rodriguez, who were arrested on the same charge in March 2010 after Gericke began videotaping a police traffic stop. Their charges were later dropped.
But Weare police have yet to return Carla Gericke’s cell phone, even though it’s been seven months since the charges were dropped.
Meanwhile, a democratic state senator named Joel Winters has launched a house committee to examine that law that police are using to arrest citizens for recording them in public, while they have the right to videotape citizens without their consent.
“If someone is recording you without your knowledge or consent, that’s the purpose of the wiretapping law, to protect you,” Winter said. “The way it’s been interpreted by some in law enforcement is that recording in public is a violation of the law. I don’t think that’s the right interpretation.”
So maybe New Hampshire will see a bill introduced similar to the one in Connecticut that would give citizens the right to sue cops who arrest them for videotaping in public.