A federal appeals court has ruled that the public has the right to film cops in public and has reinstated a lawsuit against a local New Hampshire police department brought by a woman arrested for filming a traffic stop.
The plaintiff in the case, Carla Gericke, was arrested on wiretapping allegations in 2010 for filming her friend being pulled over by the Weare Police Department during a late-night traffic stop. Although Gericke was never brought to trial, she sued, alleging that her arrest constituted retaliatory prosecution in breach of her constitutional rights.
The decision is but one in a string of decisions that are slowly sticking the needle into laws nationwide barring the recording of police as they perform their duties. But some states, like Massachusetts, outlaw the secret audio recording of police. A woman accused of secretly turning on the audio recording feature of her mobile phone while she was being arrested was charged with wiretapping two weeks ago in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts wiretapping law prohibits secretly recording police.
In the latest decision, the First US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Gericke “was exercising a clearly established First Amendment right when she attempted to film the traffic stop in the absence of a police order to stop filming or leave the area.” The decision allows her lawsuit against the department to proceed.