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I used to watch Max Headroom, starring Matt Frewer and Matt Frewer’s voice, which depicted a not-too-distant future UK in which the police only restrained themselves from beating on reporters while the cameras were recording live. Imagine that. The good news: now, practically everyone has a camera. The bad news: the police do their damnedest to dissuade us from using them.

Another person has been arrested for recording the Maryland police – well, St Mary’s sheriff’s deputies anyway. The Baltimore Crime Blog ties this arrest to the motorcyclist who recorded his traffic stop (during which an undercover cop comes out an unmarked car with his gun drawn) and a bystander who was warned not to record an arrest during the Preakness. BCB didn’t provide a link to their block quote of Southern Maryland News, but it wasn’t that hard to track down the source article and read it myself:

St. Mary’s sheriff’s deputies responding to a noise complaint last weekend at a Lexington Park neighborhood report that they seized a woman’s cell phone and charged her with illegally recording a conversation.

Yvonne Nicole Shaw, 27, was taken to the St. Mary’s jail after her arrest shortly after midnight Saturday at Colony Square, and a court commissioner ordered that she be released on personal recognizance. …

“She did admit to recording our encounter on her cell phone,” the [Sheriff’s Cpl. Patrick Handy[ wrote, “for the purpose of trying to show the police are harassing people.”

Now the Baltimore Sun ended their quote with, “St. Mary’s Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron (R) said Monday that the case will be presented to county prosecutors,” and went on to discuss the expectation of privacy and the ACLU’s position. But the Southern Maryland News story goes on to say:

“Cell phones are so pervasive,” the prosecutor [St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard D. Fritz (R)] 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.”

Maybe we’ve found a sensible prosecutor.

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  1. Somewhat ironic that wiretapping laws, which were put into place at least partially to make it illegal for law enforcement to record private conversations between individuals unless they had a warrant (that is, to rein in the overreaching activities of law enforcement) are now being used by law enforcement to prevent individuals from revealing overreaching or misconduct by the police….

    We badly need a supreme court ruling on this issue.

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