An ACLU of Massachusetts lawsuit defending the right to record the police on behalf of two civil rights activists can continue, Judge Patti Saris of the United States District Court of Massachusetts ruled today.
ACLU of Massachusetts staff attorney Jessie Rossman released the following statement:
“This ruling is a step towards greater police accountability and towards the safe, effective exercise of the right to record the police. It ensures that our clients will move forward with their challenge to vindicate their First Amendment right to record police officers in the performance of their public duties.
Recent years have demonstrated the profound power of such recordings. We all suffer when fear of retribution or prosecution stifles the contribution that recordings can make to our understanding of police-civilian encounters. Our clients brought this lawsuit to fix this problem, and today’s ruling is an important step in that process.
The Court held that our clients adequately stated a claim that the state wiretap statute, as applied to the secret recording of police officers performing their duties in public, violates the First Amendment. This ruling confirms that the fundamental right to record police officers performing their duties in public does not, and cannot, disappear into a coat pocket along with the recording device.”