In 2009, John Sein stood in his yard and began video recording police making a traffic stop in front of his Massachusetts home.
Believing police were being abusive to the driver, Sein made no secret of his actions, informing the driver’s father not to worry because he was getting it all on video.
Police then turned on him, telling him that he was violating the state’s wiretapping law, and ordering him to hand over the cell phone.
Sein tossed the phone to his wife, Mary K. Brooks, who handed it over to police after they threatened to arrest her.
Police then pounced on Sein, punching him, tackling him and forcing him into a police cruiser.
He was jailed for 15 hours on several charges, including assault and battery on a police officer and wiretapping, which were dismissed when he appeared for a jury trial.
Now he and his wife are suing the Springfield Police Department.
Springfield police are claiming the arrest took place before the Glik vs Boston decision, so they did nothing wrong.
Of course they did. The Glik decision only confirmed that recording cops in public was lawful. It did not create an entirely new precedent.
And the fact that Sein was openly recording from his front yard shows he wasn’t violating the Massachusetts wiretapping law, which makes it a crime only if one secretly records another person, even if they don’t have an expectation of privacy.
According to The Republican:
Sgt . John M. Delaney, aide to Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet, said a decision last year by the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston changed how police react to people who are taping them while they are performing their duties. The court decision was made more than two years after the arrest that prompted the federal lawsuit by Sein and Brooks.
The Appeals court, ruling in a lawsuit against the city of Boston, said that people can record police officers while they are doing their job, as long as it doesn’t hinder police work and is done in the open, not in secret.
“We have no right to arrest any more,” Delaney said.
No, Delaney, you never had that right. You just always abused that right.
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