Police in Maryland again used illegal wiretapping charges to arrest someone videotaping them in public.
This time it was Yvonne Nicole Shaw, a 27-year-old woman used her cell phone to videotape cops talking to people in her neighborhood after they had responded to a noise complaint.
She told police she was videotaping them “for the purpose of trying to show the police are harassing people,” according to a news article.
She ended up getting harassed herself.
St. Mary’s sheriff deputies seized her phone and arrested her on the same felony wiretapping charge that Anthony Graber was arrested on in April, meaning she is also facing five years in prison.
The Graber case has been getting all kinds of media coverage lately, including a Washington Post article today that mentioned Photography is Not a Crime as well as a segment on WUSA9 in which I was interviewed via Skype today.
In the Washington Post piece, the prosecutor in the Graber case said he was “surprised” that the story has gotten so much attention. I guess he expects Americans to just give up their rights without even an outcry.
The attention the Graber case is receiving has surprised Harford prosecutor Joseph I. Cassilly, who said his office has prosecuted similar cases before, including one within the past year against the passenger of a car that was stopped during a drug investigation who started taping officers with a cellphone camera. Cassilly said he didn’t know the status of the case because the prosecutor handling it has been out sick.
The prosecutor in the Shaw case seems to have a little more sense.
“Cell phones are so pervasive,” the prosecutor said, “that recording something that occurs in public raises a question of whether or not it’s unlawful. If I’m convinced this was a public encounter that just happened to be recorded, I probably will not proceed with the prosecution. The facts will probably bear out that it was not a private one-on-one conversation.”