Last week I posted about Anthony Graber. He’s a Maryland man who videotaped the police pulling him over and posted the video on YouTube. Graber was arrested after posting the video for violating Maryland’s wiretapping laws.
Now the Maryland Attorney Generals office has issued an opinion saying that this law doesn’t really apply to these cases:
Marylanders appear to have the right to record interactions with police officers with devices such as video cameras and mobile phones, according to an opinion by the state attorney general’s office. The advisory letter was issued as several people face or have been threatened with criminal charges for taping police.
It’s unlikely that most interactions with police could be considered private, as some law enforcement agencies have interpreted the state’s wiretapping act, wrote Assistant Attorney General Robert McDonald. The conclusion is based on prior rulings and opinions of courts in other states.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is representing a motorcyclist facing criminal charges in Harford County, one of at least two people who are being prosecuted there for recording police. State police raided the home of Anthony Graber in April after he posted a video of a traffic stop that he recorded with a helmet-mounted camera.
(h/t Brian Gregory in the comments)
The article goes on to detail countless other examples of police and prosecutors trying to pin people with violating this law. As matter of fact the state’s attorney for the county Graber was arrested in tried to explain his position last week:
Harford County’s State’s Attorney says he would have no problem for cops or delegates being taped by the public if the law spelled it out better.
“If they have this law, I’m going to enforce it,” he said.
It is really starting to sound like local prosecutors are trying to make more out of the law than it is. With all the other crime in America, should they really be spending their time on bogus charges? I thought we had a jail crowding problem in this country, so wouldn’t the limited space be better used for real criminals, instead of people trying to get hits on YouTube?
Whatever the reasoning these people have for pursuing such idiotic charges, it sounds like cooler heads have finally prevailed. Now we can wait and see what lawsuits might come out of this.