Court Denies Police Immunity in Video Arrest

By:  Jack Kenny
09/01/2011
       
Court Denies Police Immunity in Video Arrest

Declaring a First Amendment right to videotape police making an arrest in public, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has denied a police claim of immunity and allowed a civil rights suit against three Boston police officers to go forward. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston on behalf of Simon Glik, a Boston attorney who was arrested on the evening of October 1, 2007 for using his cellphone to record police officers making an arrest on the Boston Common.

Glik's suit claims police violated his First Amendment rights by stopping him from recording and his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him without probable cause. The officers appealed a district court ruling denying them qualified immunity from the suit. A ruling by a three-judge panel of the appeals circuit on Friday of last week upheld the lower court's decision.  
 

Declaring a First Amendment right to videotape police making an arrest in public, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has denied a police claim of immunity and allowed a civil rights suit against three Boston police officers to go forward. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston on behalf of Simon Glik, a Boston attorney who was arrested on the evening of October 1, 2007 for using his cellphone to record police officers making an arrest on the Boston Common.

Glik's suit claims police violated his First Amendment rights by stopping him from recording and his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him without probable cause. The officers appealed a district court ruling denying them qualified immunity from the suit. A ruling by a three-judge panel of the appeals circuit on Friday of last week upheld the lower court's decision.

"The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow," wrote Judge Kermit Lipez for the unanimous panel; "Is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative."

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