Chalk Up One For Liberty

Some time ago Anthony Graber was riding his motorcycle in a reckless manner on Interstate 95 in Maryland. Graber had a helmet camera on and was filming his antics, antics that caught the attention of an off duty Maryland State Trooper. The trooper stopped Graber and got out of his car with his gun drawn. He did not immediately identify himself as a police officer and Graber thought he would be killed by some crazy guy with a gun.

Once the man identified himself (I never saw if he flashed a badge) Graber got off his motorcycle. After he was released he posted the video of the encounter with the trooper on You Tube. A few days later the police arrived at his house with a warrant and confiscated his computer equipment and the camera.

Graber was charged with violating Maryland’s wiretapping laws which make it illegal to record private conversations.

That case went to court and the charges against Graber were dropped. The Judge, Emory A. Plitt Jr, ruled the wiretap law did not apply because the conversation was not private.

This is the absolute correct decision. No public conversation is private and, as Graber’s lawyer points out, when a police office arrests you he informs you that what you say can be used against you thus meaning the conversation is not a private one. Wiretapping laws are meant for conversations where one can reasonably expect privacy. A conversation on a public street, particularly one with a representative of the government, is not private.

It is not illegal to audio or video record anyone on the street but the cops want it both ways with regard to privacy. They want to be able to put a GPS on your car because you have no reasonable expectation of privacy on a public street but they expect privacy on a public street when they have an encounter with you.

It is all bogus and Judge Plitt made that very clear.

Of course, the police will just continue to do what they want. The Maryland State Police have stated they respect the judge’s decision and will review how they handle things but they will not change how they handle stops. This means if you are recording them there could be problems, particularly if they discover it at the time.

The police record people when they stop them and the recording is done without the permission of the person who was stopped. Is this another blanket abuse of our rights based on the idea that driving is not a right and that in order to drive you give consent to be recorded if stopped?

The way I see it, the police work for US and we have the right to record them doing their jobs.

In any event, nothing they do is private because they are PUBLIC servants. Everything they do is and should be in the public’s eyes.

Judge Plitt made that clear so record them all you want.

Cave Canem!
Never surrender, never submit.
Big Dog

Gunline

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6 Responses to “Chalk Up One For Liberty”

  1. Adam says:

    Who doesn’t drive recklessly on I-95 anyway? Damn that stretch of highway.

  2. Mr. Ogre says:

    I have followed this case since it started, and I almost made a post here about this, so thanks for putting it up. I do have one comment. BD said, “This is the absolute correct decision.”

    Well, almost.

    It was probably the best possible decision to be expected from the government of today. A decision truly based on justice would have also punished the people who committed the crime — the policeman, the police chief, and the department who prosecuted the charge. And no, I don’t mean a “fine” or anything of the department, as that wouldn’t bother anyone but the taxpayer. Instead, a proper outcome would have resulted in the policeman and prosecuting attorney personally responsible — fines, unpaid time off work, etc. In other words, something that would actually encourage people to NOT allow this to happen again.

    Sadly, with this decision, as Big Dog has alluded to, the police can and will continue to prosecute people for this exact “non-crime,” and will hope that next time they will get someone who can’t afford a lawyer.

    • Big Dog says:

      I would almost agree Ogre except I think the State’s Attorney is at fault. Officers are not lawyers and if they thought there was a violation of wiretapping laws they had a duty to respond. They took it to the legal expert who took the decision to follow through. I think cops often go way too far but at least in this case they went to the expert. It is that person who should face scrutiny and sanction.

      No doubt an elected official…

    • Schatzee says:

      The only problem with your suggestion Mr. Ogre is that you mentioned the key words of disdain for the majority right now which is “personal responsibility.” We don’t have much of that anymore – it’s always someone else’s fault (society, parents, GW Bush, whatever). If more people believed in personal responsibility for their own actions and if we had, one of my personal crusades, a “corrections” system made to punish criminals and not rehab them (and get them free degrees and stuff like that), we would see a lot less crime and perhaps a few less frivolous lawsuits. Liberty and Justice – now that works for me!

  3. Mr. Ogre says:

    Good point, Schatzee — a criminal justice system to punish criminal activity would be quite unique today. There’s a reason that more and more division are NOT being called “corrections” any more.

  4. Blake says:

    Personal Responsibility- the core tenet that progressives are trying to destroy in our society.
    On a related note, while I have the greatest respect for the Police, the “State” can and will give them powers to invade everyone’s personal privacy-(and, sadly, they WILL use them)- they already have vans that can x-ray a house to see what or who is inside, and this is a gross violation of the right to privacy- sure it might save lives in a hostage situation, but if one of them were to be just cruisin’ the streets, randomly peeking inside, well then this becomes another matter entirely, one I am not comfortable with.