North Carolina Woman Arrested for Video Recording Cops From Front Yard Wins Settlement

Judge Beth Dixon

Like several cases we have seen over the years, North Carolina resident Felicia Gibson was arrested for video recording a traffic stop from her front yard.

Salisbury Police Sgt. Mark Hunter even went as far as chasing Gibson inside her home where he arrested her for resisting arrest.

And when Gibson took the case to trial, Judge Beth Dixon further pissed on the Constitution by convicting her.

The story struck such a nerve with me that I launched an online drive to derail her re-election campaign in 2010, which included several blog posts, localized online ads as well as a Facebook page that still ranks in the top three when you Google “Judge Beth Dixon.”

The PINAC Wrath was so strong that she was forced to delete her campaign Facebook page as I wrote back then:

An onslaught of criticism on that page, much of it from Photography is Not a Crime readers, forced her to delete the page entirely on Tuesday.

At first she tried to keep up with the comments by deleting them every few hours. Then she tried to disable comments to her wall.

But that still allowed comments on her previous posts.

Finally, she just deleted the page altogether – exactly 24 hours after I launched the Defeat Beth Dixon on Rowan County District Court Judge Facebook page – and 11 days after she convicted Felicia Gibson for resisting arrest.

My efforts failed as Dixon was reelected anyway.

But late last year, Gibson redeemed herself by winning a $25,000 settlement after she had her conviction reversed upon appeal.

The story was reported last month in the Salisbury Post:

Rowan District Court Judge Beth Dixon convicted Gibson of resisting an officer in 2010, saying she had interfered with Hunter’s ability to do his job. That conviction was erased in January in superior court.

 “After a thorough review of the evidence and relevant case law and after considering the circumstances surrounding the civil settlement between the Salisbury Police Department and the Defendant, the State is dismissing this charge in the interests of justice,” a dismissal notice signed by prosecutor Seth Banks said.

The only unfortunate thing is that Dixon and Hunter are not forced to foot the costs of the settlement.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • rick


    • Haeshu

      It is an abomination that she was convicted and that this guy is still working at the police department. You and I may think about our constitutional rights, but at the end of the day, you will be arrested and convicted if a jury of your peers thinks what you did was unreasonable, the law be damned. In this case, a jury of morons, I mean your peers, would say that you need to follow every order and officer gives you and you didn’t so you are GUILTY.
      What a shame.

      • Amber Womack-Kitavi

        not if I was on your jury!!

      • Phred

        Was it a trial by jury or a bench trial? The article says she was convicted by the judge, which, to me, indicates a bench trial, with no jury.

        • Carlos_Miller

          It was a bench trial

          • JeromeMac

            Amazing while the Constitution guarantees a right to a jury trial for all criminal cases, that isn’t followed in misdemeanor cases in many states.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            The Sixth Amendment does not guarantee the right to a jury trial for petty offenses with a punishment of less than six months in jail. Lewis v. United States, 518 U.S. 322, 323 (1996).

            Some states, like Texas, have state constitution provisions that guarantee the right to a jury trial in those cases, but the U.S. Constitution does not provide that guarantee. See Tex. Const. § 15 (“The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.”).

          • Difdi

            But if you’re in a place where you can be stripped of a constitutional right (such as the right to bear arms) for a misdemeanor conviction, wouldn’t that mean you are entitled to a jury trial?

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            Not if the offense is punishable with under 6 months in jail. It varies from state to state, but there is no Sixth Amendment jury trial right for “petty” offenses, per the Lewis opinion. So a simple battery – domestic violence guilty verdict with under 6 months as a possible penalty could be heard before a judge only in some states.

            In Texas the same offense is punishable by fine only (up to $500), so there is no federal jury right, but our state constitution guarantees jury rights for all offenses.

            BTW, did you see the post on the officer facing 18 USC 241 charges? I thought of you when I saw it.

          • Difdi

            How petty can a removal of an unalienable right for years or for life be?

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            It’s based on the jail time possible, not the other consequences. Like I said, in Texas, simple battery – domestic violence is punishable by a $500 fine only. But it can deprive you of the right to keep firearms for life.

          • Difdi

            That’s absurd. By that standard you could pile on enormous penalties so long as you didn’t exceed a set amount of time behind bars. You could essentially strip someone of citizenship that way, which is a far more severe penalty than a few months locked up. Far more punishment than you should get for ANY misdemeanor and even most felonies.

            The worst school massacre in U.S. history didn’t involve anyone being shot (though one rifle cartridge was used as a detonator); If depriving someone of one constitutional right for life without a jury trial (or even with) is constitutional, then it sets a precedent for any right to be stripped away if it can be justified the same way. A total prohibition on that killer owning guns wouldn’t have stopped him, but being prohibited from owning textbooks might have.

            I can think of ways to do that (on similar grounds to a lifetime firearms ban for a misdemeanor conviction) to the 1st and 4th amendments off the top of my head, and could probably come up with plausible horribles for the others.

            As for the infallibility of SCOTUS rulings, Edwin raises a good point. If the Supreme Court had the constitutional authority that our current system grants it, Article V of the constitution would be redundant except possibly for creating wholly new amendments and maybe not even then, given the creativity of lawyers — commerce clause and broccoli anyone?

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            It may be absurd, but that is what the law is. No one said that it had to make sense.

          • steveo

            In FL, you only get 6 jurors and 12 only if a capital case. Most misdemeanors, you only get a jury if the State wants jail time, except in DUI cases where you can always get a jury. You can’t get a court appointed lawyer except with felonies. I think there is a process where an attorney can motion for a jury trial in a misdemeanor case because the fines can add up to over a grand. I’m not sure about the gun thing for misdemeanors, I know you can’t have any when you are on probation. In a couple of years, FL is going to require DNA swabs for certain violent misdemeanor arrests, not convictions and all felony arrests.

          • Difdi

            Is the reason DUI trials always have juries due to the fact that you can be punished by a conviction beyond short jail times and fines? Say by losing your driver’s license?

            Losing a constitutional right is a lot more severe a punishment than having to ride mass transit.

          • douginjax

            Actually, the 6th Amendment DOES guarantee just that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,..” All findings otherwise are obviously violations of the Constitution.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            Not according to SCOTUS. Justice O’Connor in Lewis v. United States held that:

            “We conclude that no jury trial right exists where a defendant is prosecuted for multiple petty offenses. The Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of the right to a jury trial does not extend to petty offenses, and its scope does not change where a defendant faces a potential aggregate prison term in excess of six months for petty offenses charged. Because we decide that no jury trial right exists where a defendant is charged with multiple petty offenses, we do not reach the second question.” 518 U.S. 322, 323-24 (1996).

            This is not new. See Callan v. Wilson, 127 U.S. 540, 552 (1888), “And when it is declared that the party is entitled to a speedy trial by an impartial jury . . . [i]t could never have been intended to embrace every species of accusation involving either criminal or penal consequences.” and “summary police powers are constantly exercised in all the States of the Union for the repression of breaches of the peace and petty offences, and these statutes are not supposed to conflict with the constitutional provisions securing to the citizen a trial by jury. . . . This constitutional provision does not prevent the enforcement of the by-laws of a municipal corporation without a jury trial.” Id., at 553.

            Unless you are claiming that the Supreme Court does not have the authority to state what the law is, it is clearly Constitutional.

          • Edwin Vieira, Jr.

            The Supreme Court does not have the authority to mis-state what the law is,especially by mis-interpreting the Constitution. If it did, it would be a permanently sitting constitutional convention, rendering Article V redundant (i.e., “amending” Article V out of existence).

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            Dr. Vieira, with all due respect, once SCOTUS has ruled on a Constitutional issue, it is my understanding that the ruling is binding authority as to that particular Constitutional question.

            “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137,177 (1803), see also Harmelin v. Mich., 501 U.S. 957, 1017 (1991) (J. White, dissenting).

            In addition, the Court has already addressed U.S. Const. art. V, in United States v. Sprague, 282 U.S. 716 (1931), discussing the two methods of amending the Constitution, neither of which support the idea of a “permanently sitting constitutional convention . . . .”

            Do you have authority to support this position? I am not attempting to challenge you, I just don’t understand where you are coming from.

      • Difdi

        The irony of the ability of a jury to convict you of not breaking the law, is that the reverse side of that coin is jury nullification…something the government likes to claim can’t legitimately occur.

  • Stepping On Shadows

    She should have won WAY more.

    • ElDouchee

      she probably settled since she didn’t have the money to keep litigating.

    • Peaceful Streets

      But the state won’t pay way more. Not even when they kill people.

      • James M Morriss

        They would if they didn’t piss away like it’s their third beer. They just spend money putting up “Flood Evacuation Rout” signs. Not only does the sign point TOWARD the dam but it also blocks the stop sign from view. They’re all a bunch of yahoos. Rowan Co. is truly a good ol boy place with A compliant paper and chicken shit news coverage.

  • Jan Cyraniak

    Murica – land of the free xD xD xD

    • rick

      “What? The land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy!”
      –Rage Against the Machine (Know Your Enemy)

      • Difdi

        The easiest way to enslave a free man is to constantly tell him he is free, while gradually enacting “common sense” restrictions on how he can use that freedom.

  • John

    Brick by brick…

  • FTP

    I’ve always said the appeals courts are the real courts. The first courts we go to are the “Teach us a Lesson” courts for going against the system to gain compliance. FTP, and FTC’s !

    • steveo

      Some states have a preliminary judge like a justice of the peace to hear low level misdemeanors. Sometimes these “magistrates” aren’t even lawyers. They probably decide for the leos 99% of the time regardless of the facts because they are more like an employee of the leos and county and the system just knows that you just go past that to the real judge.

      This is what happened to the copblock guys in Mississippi when they got arrested for having a beer and recording the traffic stop. They went to the “judge” that was like a justice of the peace and he “found them guilty” and then they went right past that to the circuit court and were acquitted.

      I think this kind of hearing would be more like a probable cause hearing in most states. Probably NC has this system to save time and money, so that the state can just roll over most people and charge them the fines without having to deal with real due process.

      • ExCop-Lawyer

        Texas is the same. A justice of the peace does not have to be a lawyer. If a case is heard by a JP court, the defendant can immediately appeal it to a county court or county court-at-law for a new trial. After that, it goes through the regular appellate process.

        Many states have similar provisions.

        Also, don’t get tied up on the title or name of the court. They are different in every state. In N.C., a district court is a lower level, misdemeanor court. In Texas, they are upper level trial courts that handle felonies. In N.Y., the Supreme Court is a trial court, and the highest appellate court is the Court of Appeals. You have to determine what the situation is in each jurisdiction.

        • steveo

          That’s interesting about NY because I grew up in a small town in Central NY and our neighbor was the county judge. He got appointed to the Supreme Court, so I just assumed he was like the head ramrod.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            In NY, the trial courts are the Town, County, and Supreme Courts.

            The intermediate appellate court is the Supreme Court–Appellate Division.

            The highest appellate court is the Court of Appeals.

            Compare that to Texas, where the trial courts are the Municipal/JP, County, and District Courts.

            The intermediate appellate court is the Court of Appeals.

            The two highest appellate courts are the Supreme Court (civil jurisdiction only) and the Court of Criminal Appeals (criminal only).

  • TomasHunter

    At least she didnt get beaten too. Thats what happens in Denver when you try to record officer conduct.

  • ferricoxide

    Too bad $25K won’t begin to cover her legal bills.

  • Joe Tucker


    • Difdi

      I agree, but you don’t need to scream about it. We can hear you just fine without the screaming.

      • showmesplfd

        Chill out! Joe is just being emphatic-no big deal and he’s NOT “screaming” but there is no other means to emphasize what you are saying-no italics, bolding or underlining so caps are the only options. If the police are not doing something they shouldn’t be doing, they have nothing to fear from being photographed. Photographing from the sidelines is hardly interfering with police business. Recording an officer trespassing on your property (it’s not involved with the traffic stop) and chasing you into your house to force you to stop taking pictures is quite an interesting matter indeed. Overstepping authority? or covering up abuse of power???

        • Difdi

          You place emphasis like THIS. NOT LIKE THIS. All caps is screaming/shouting and has been understood to be that for decades now.

          • James M Morriss

            Maybe the volume got stuck on his keyboard…. Yep even before the WWW on the FIDO net all caps was a ‘flame’ and frowned on. (God I feel old…)

          • Difdi

            You’re not the only one.

          • j w


        • j w


          • Difdi

            Your opinion is noted, but irrelevant. The point of posting is to communicate, and using words and typing conventions that no one else uses makes you harder to understand, not easier.

            If you don’t like reality, you can work to change it, just rant about it or live with it.

            But the fact remains that ALL CAPS has meant shouting for sure for almost 30 years now, and possibly longer.

      • Big bad John

        oh yeah, those big letters are really hurting my eyes… gimme a break! Stop being so PC cuz some douche decided they didn’t like big letters

        • Difdi

          All caps has been understood to be screaming for over 30 years now. It’s not being a douche to notice when someone is screaming and comment on it.

          • j w


  • Some Guy CH

    Yes. She should have been awarded far more. These basic injustices shall not be tolerated.

  • j w

    The Conviction for filmig Cops Violates The Open Fields Doctrine. Judge Dixon should be removed from the bench as Judge Dixon is TOTALLY Un-American

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      How does the Open Fields doctrine apply? Open field does not apply to the curtilage of a house or the house itself. I’m not arguing that Judge Dixon was right (she wasn’t), but her error was not due to “Open Fields.”

      • Difdi

        Which makes it worse. The curtilage of your own house has greater protections.

        • ExCop-Lawyer

          I agree. I’m just trying to figure out what jw is getting at. It doesn’t make sense.

          Steveo correct on the appeal from Dixon’s court to the next level. It’s automatic, and a new trial.

    • steveo

      I don’t think you need an error in these hearings to appeal the case to the next level. Kind of like traffic court in FL. If you appeal your decision from the traffic court to the circuit court, the circuit court starts all over, you don’t need a transcript or anything like that, just the filing fee of $400 which I think is outrageous.

  • Ken Auman

    i have a case similar to this in grandview missouri (kansas city). can anyone involved send me the case law from the case and does anyone know at attorney here or the ones involved who might be willing to help with some of the paperwork? thanks.

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      Caselaw from North Carolina is not going to help you in Missouri.

      You have handled enough cases pro se that you should know how to research the matter. Furthermore, I would recommend that you retain a local attorney. The Missouri Bar Association has an attorney referral service, call (573) 636-3635.

  • Janice Wolfe Rees

    Felisa Gibson need a shout out, if they can vedio the people, we can do the same.

  • Manelqua

    25K settlement & no charge against the police? What is to prevent additional harassment?

  • ExCop-Lawyer

    I looked into this, and this is just the tip of the iceberg in Salisbury. Hunter has been involved in three incidents like this, involving excessive force, and a former officer, Kareem Puranda, was involved in four. In the three lawsuits settled so far, the city has paid out $125,000, and the most egregious one is still pending. The video on that case is posted on my blog, and shows Puranda punching John Fox, who was basically just standing there.

    In addition, the U.S. Attorney has charged Puranda with violating citizen’s civil rights (18 USC 241) and his criminal trial is pending.

    See for more info.

  • Amber Sherwood K

    Justice for anyone able to pay for it.

  • Dion Argueta

    Whoever was the idiot that said ‘it’s unfortunate that Dixon didn’t have to foot the costs of the settlement is a piece of shit!!!! Dixon is the victim and was very fortunate to have been successful in correcting corruption and is in my book an upstanding citizen for doing so!!!!!!!

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      Gibson is the victim. Dixon was the judge.

  • Michael Sievers

    File a Judicial Misconduct complaint against the judge.
    File criminal complaints for Malicious Prosecution against the judge and cop.
    File a criminal complaint for Aggravated Assault against the cop.
    File a criminal complaint for Kidnapping against the cop.

    File Title 42:1983 Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights against the judge and cop in Federal Court.

    That is how you make them stop crapping on you.

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      1. How is judicial misconduct going to succeed? It does not appear as if she violated the cannons of judicial behavior, just that she ruled the wrong way. That’s not misconduct.
      2. There is no crime of “Malicious Prosecution”.
      3. There is no “Aggravated Assault”, it doesn’t meet the elements of the offense.
      4. There is no “Kidnapping”, it doesn’t meet the elements of the offense.
      5. She filed a 1983 case against the officer, that is what the $25,000 settlement is for. The judge has absolute immunity for civil suits.

      • Difdi

        Where in the constitution does a judge have that protection? A prosecutor? Anyone?

        That would seem to be creating a special class with greater rights than a citizen, which is a constitutional no-no.

        • ExCop-Lawyer

          See Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997) for a discussion on the doctrines of absolute and qualified immunity as it relates to various officials.

          The doctrine of judicial immunity is a common-law doctrine that pre-dates the Constitution.

          • Difdi

            So were a number of things, which were also left out of the constitution. We don’t have sumptuary laws, serfdom or the good old rule of thumb. What we do have is the rule of law, and anyone being exempt from the law defies that.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            Not according to the Supreme Court.

          • Difdi

            So basically the court has the authority to exceed its own constitutional authority because it says it does. Maybe that’s where Obama got his ideas about the power of the executive branch?

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            They are not exceeding their constitutional authority. The judiciary has the authority to state what the law is. That goes back to 1803, Marbury v. Madison. If the executive and legislative branches disagree, they can change the number of justices, limit their budget, etc.

          • Difdi

            Then the concept of limited enumerated powers is dead and the constitution with it.

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            Then it died in 1803, not recently, and died at the hands of those who wrote the Constitution.

          • James M Morriss

            Obama gets his powers from the “emergency powers act.” From 1932 until 1972 the US was run under a state of emergency. I would imagine it hasn’t changed; if it did, 9-11 changed it back.

          • James M Morriss

            If you don’t think they have immunity then you have researched the “Little Rascals Daycare” case. The whole thing was all BS. I understand the prosecutor got a gold watch and benefits when he retired, from the railroad. (see the 3 “Frontline” reports,

          • ExCop-Lawyer

            Which has nothing to do with either the doctrine of absolute immunity or the doctrine of qualified immunity. Look at the case, State v. Wilson, 456 S.E.2d 870 (N.C. App. 1995), not one word about immunity.

  • hostage707

    the first judge should have been hauled into court and fined, [never happen] and asked why she was so ignorant of the case. I would keep up the heat on the officials. they need to be held accountable.

  • Todd Allen Oetken

    How can such a STUPID woman become a judge and strip citizens of their rights?

    This judge’s salary is one major WASTE of tax-dollars.

  • Jerry Morgan

    Why would anyone vote for Dixon? I think around here the local clique keep each other in office.

  • globale

    How in the hell does recording a traffic stop interfere with his ability to do his job?!

    • snafubar

      well he obviously doesn’t want his thuggery recorded

  • Tom Martin

    but at least we live in a free country

  • abinico

    Yet ANOTHER reason why they are called PIGS.

  • alarmer33

    “Judge”? Beth Dixon. How about Turd-in-the River-of-Life Beth Dixon.

  • dogshit

    fuck you………….turd

  • dogshit

    rot in hell scum

  • dogshit

    nazi fuck comment editor……..fuck you pedophile turd

  • PennState93

    It’s time that Americans start taking a stand as Felicia Gibson did.

    A TIME TO STAND ( ) is a must read for all Americans and how the 2nd American Revolution will come about. It only took a penny tea tax to start the first revolution. It’s decent folks also taking a stand like Felicia against judicial tyranny and corrupt politicians. It’s provocative so I recommend it.

    Judge Dixon needs to read and be tested on the U.S. Constitution (and voted out). Officer Hunter needs to be looking for another job.

  • waltinseattle

    re who picks up cost. this week we seattlites hear that police have been fighting a 2 year old fine for poloce excess. excess was monor
    fine was $1.00 (yep a single dollar!) cost of fighting it $600,000 (yep 5 zeroes!)

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      If the $1 nominal judgment stands, then the plaintiff is normally entitled to be reimbursed their attorney fees and costs, which would be a major amount.

  • Nemo

    Regarding the notion put forward that once the SCOTUS has ruled, the matter is settled, forever and ever, amen. I beg to differ. The Dredd Scott decision is not the current law of the land, despite the SCOTUS’ ruling on it. Nor has the SCOTUS always honored the Constitution, especially when it comes to the “Interstate commerce clause”.

    If the pope is not infallible, how can the SCOTUS hope to be? ExCop, I call on you to review the bidding. If you want to retreat to “the current, operational law of the land”, I’d argue that this isn’t the case, since despite the ruling, cops continue to violate 1st A rights, by arresting people for filming them.

    If you with to argue that the interpretation is subject to further review, then i wouldn’t disagree, but I will suggest that at least once, your previous statements fell short.

    • ExCop-Lawyer

      Nowhere did I say that a later Court could not overturn a previous ruling. Although Dred Scott is not an example of that, the Brown v. Board of Education case is (overturning Pleasey v. Ferguson), and many others. Nor did I claim that they always made the right decision. For example, I believe the the Slaughterhouse cases were wrongly decided. I don’t believe that you can find Constitutional support for Congress having plenary power over Indian Tribes. I don’t believe that Obamacare is Constitutional.

      None of that matters. It is still the law of the land.

      Dred Scott was wrong. However, until Dred Scott was superseded by the Fourteenth Amendment, it was the law of the land, and lower courts were bound by that decision.

      The conversation was also primarily dealing with the right of the Court to interpret the law, which I don’t think is going away anytime soon, if ever.

  • Peaceful Streets

    Of course the thug cops and the corrupt judge aren’t forced to pay. They think they’re untouchable, which is why they act like the animals they do. We’ll change that soon, though. Public shame is a price that will never be paid off by the taxpayers.

  • James M Morriss

    Wow one from home. You guys just got one more vote against her next election. We’ll just have to bring all this nasty truth back up. I will hate to sully her campaign with things like facts history, and the law.

  • Glenn Miller

    This cop died today. Heart attack.

  • Randy

    As a North Carolinian by birth, I wouldn’t shed a tear if Judge Dixon was found dead in a ditch.

  • Jim Holmes

    Too bad she was not also able to tie the cop and the Judge naked outside in mosquito country for a few days.
    These types are dog crap in official form.