NYPD ordered to stop illegally telling people they can't film inside precinct stations

Originally published at: NYPD ordered to stop illegally telling people they can't film inside precinct stations | Boing Boing


The irony


I’m not a legal scholar, so please forgive my ignorance.
When something could be ruled as allowed based on the right to record act for example, but is also covered by a law based on that act, is it normal to first rule on the ‘nearest’ or ‘lowest’ applicable law first?

Does it then fall to one of the parties to appeal to the next level up until a) they run out of ability or will to continue b) they receive the result they want or c) the approval is denied … until the supreme court?

It seems to me, again just a non-legal-knowlege holder, and programmer and not in the US,… a judge would try to apply it to the highest level of the applicable law and indicate that the dependent laws/acts are either correct or incorrect in that specific aspect.
Again, probably my fault for seeing it like nested requirements of a project, or rule set, each level adding additional context.
Being that its a human construct meant not for understanding by mere mortals, I suspect the judge is limited to only rule on the most specific interpretation that applies, and not step on the toes of their uber-judges on a level higher.

Also I suspect that increased confusion and lawyers fees enrich a great number of people at the cost of a great number of other people.


My view of First Amendment Auditors has been badly tainted by the first video I saw, which was an obnoxious asshole from a different state going into some tiny town office and making a big spectacle of himself to get them to react, then tossing out the old “you can’t stop me filming” stuff. After which he called all that a “victory.”

Man, those are people just trying to get through their day and do their jobs. You want to hold cops and other arrogant assholes to the fire? Go ahead, be my guest, but stop treating all civil servants as someone worthy of your contempt and disrespect.


Yeah, this really is one of those “let them fight” kind of moments, isn’t it? We’ve had them in some of the local libraries – they’re making their way through all of the ones in the area so they’ll get to us eventually. Our front facing staff has guidelines for them, but I’m really glad one of the first items on the list is “Yes, you can film in public areas but not in staff-only or other areas off limits to the public.” (I’m paraphrasing here.)


I’m kind of surprised that the wiki page doesn’t make any reference to this:

If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

Cardinal Richelieu


I’m guessing that the judge thought that the new york law was more clearcut and less likely to be successfully apealed than a first amendment case.

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An NYPD policy, announced in signage in every precinct in the city, forbids filming in station houses.

Kind of amazing that the cops can just decide to act like policy (that they came up with) is the same as a law and then arrest people under it.

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Well there ARE parts of a police station where there is an expectation of privacy: bathrooms,locker rooms, places to meet with your lawyer, etc. I’m guessing that the popo saw a provision for this in the law and said “We’ll make it ALL private.” Until the judge called bullshit.

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IANAL. That said, here’s my understanding: Every judge theoretically tries to consider all the levels of law from most specific to most general. So in theory there’s no need to appeal since they got it right the first time. There are lots of wrinkles though as different courts have different jurisdictions, e.g. state vs federal.

I once went to criminal court, without a lawyer, because I protested fees for public land access by not paying the fee to hike a public wilderness trail. I learned a lot about how messy the law really is by challenging the infraction. I had thought that the written codes and regulations were the law. That if I just read the code cited on my infraction that was all I and the judge needed to know.

But in fact case law is a much bigger part of the equation. The state’s attorney had to spend 10 minutes presenting the judge with a detailed accounting of rulings from courts at higher levels, just to establish that the cited code actually was in force. I had figured the worst that could come from challenging this in court was that I would have an infraction on my record. The judge ended up not liking me wasting his time, so he added an extra $100 fine, and added a probationary period in which I was not to hike that trail without paying the fee, or else face a misdemeanor contempt of court charge. Basically he was just making up the penalty, since this particular code had never been charged in his court.

This is pretty much how most of the “first amendment auditors” work. They don’t just quietly go and record some interaction or public business happening. They are aggressive and intimidating, particularly to low-level employees like clerks and administrative aids. They harass public employees and rarely cops.
The people who get harassed by cops or arrested for filming police actions do not usually call themselves “first amendment auditors.”
Plus there is lots of overlap between the “first amendment auditors” and 2A asshats. They believe carrying a gun is not just protected by the 2nd amendment, but is also protected speech. So they go into municipal offices packing assault style weapons,.claiming they have the right to be there and record everything that goes on.

I believe strongly in the public knowing what the government is up to. But that doesn’t mean randos get to harass government workers. A person should be able to film themselves interacting with a government employee, especially a cop. But the “first amendment auditors” aren’t doing that. They are using the first amendment as cover to be assholes


It’s been there for a few years at least

Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and cryptographer, expressed opposition, citing a statement widely attributed to Cardinal Richelieu, “Give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I’ll find enough to hang him,” referring to how a state government can find aspects in a person’s life in order to prosecute or blackmail that individual.

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