Breaking news!! Federal Appeals Court rules that citizens have a right to film police activity without fear of retaliation
The jurisdiction of 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals includes Pittsburgh and all of Pennsylvania.
Well 2 days ago on July 7, 2017 the Court ruled that a citizen’s First Amendment rights guarantee that they can take photographs of police activity without fear of being arrested or other retaliation.
The Court ruled that the right to record the police is part of the liberty protected by the First Amendment.
This decision can hardly be considered surprising.
Neither is the decision universally accepted.
Everyone understands police have an extremely difficult job. They’re dealing with the public under the worst of human situations.
Many times the people they confront are drunk or high or both.
So most people completely sympathize with the jobs that police must perform. I am not courageous enough to be a police officer.
However the price of freedom does not come without costs.
What Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney and First Amendment lawyer Bernie Tully means by that is this: if we are going to live in a free society we must acknowledge and respect every citizens First Amendment rights. Even when doing so is a pain in the butt to the police and others.
Your First Amendment rights includes the right to information about how public servants operate in public.
That obviously includes taking photographs and videos of police activity.
Taking videos and photographs dating way back to the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles has had a positive impact on how police activity is supposed to be in enforced.
It has also helped helped curb the random beating of minorities by a few bad police officers.
The decision recognized that smart phones and other devices that can record and photograph instantly any situation are now a part of our society.
So what the Court had to do was to decide whether the First Amendment rights each citizen has includes the right to film and record public servants actions in the performance of their duties. The Court decided that it does.
What do you think of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision?
Do you support it? Do you support it with limitations?
Do you think is completely unfair to the police?
Pittsburgh criminal defense and injury lawyer Bernie Tully really wants to know your views.
I hope you are enjoying the summer.
Thanks for reading
Bernie the attorney