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Court rules filming cops isn't a First Amendment right

Court rules filming cops isn't a First Amendment right
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

If a police officer pulls you over, or shows up at your door, you might be tempted to pull out your phone and record the encounter. And, while you might think recording the event will protect you, it can actually get you into more trouble. You may even get arrested. At least, that's what a U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania determined.

The ruling was on two cases in Philadelphia, which challenged the "illegal practices" used by the Philly PD who had arrested citizens caught recording the police while on duty. Amanda Geraci and Richard Fields were suing the city for infringing on their First and Fourth Amendment rights.

In both of these cases, the observers were restrained by police to prevent the event from being recorded. And, in Fields's case, his cellphone was confiscated and searched.

Although the judge sided with the plaintiffs when it came to the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against false arrest and of use excessive force, it was not determined that such actions were a violation of citizens' First Amendment rights.

According to the ruling, if a citizen wants to record the police, they must explain their intentions first. The judge called this "expressive conduct," where the citizen must notify the officer why they'd like to record certain moments of the encounter on video.

So, basically, if you get caught recording the police after failing to let them know, you could be the one who's in trouble - not them. And yet, during these encounters, it seems that more police officers will be recording you.

An appeal is being filed to challenge the ruling. But, what do you think? Was this judgment fair? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: Newser
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