Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”     Winston Churchill

January 28, 2008

Don’t Watch The Watchers

by Doug Mataconis

A lawyer in Massachusetts faces wiretapping charges for recording a drug arrest on his cell phone:

A 2006 graduate of New England School of Law will stand trial on Jan. 29 in Boston Municipal Court on charges of wiretapping, aiding an escape and disturbing the peace for allegedly using his cell phone to record the arrest of a 16-year-old juvenile in a drug case.

The matter, which stems from an Oct. 1 incident, has drawn the ire of local legal heavyweight Harvey A. Silverglate — who has penned an op-ed on the case for the Jan. 28 issue of Lawyers Weekly — and others who worry about the consequences for “concerned citizens” who choose to record possible police misconduct.

According to a police report obtained by Lawyers Weekly, Officer Peter Savalis alleges that attorney Simon Glik was walking in the Boston Common at 5:30 p.m. when he used his phone’s camera to videotape him and two other officers investigating a teen.

“[He] reached out and placed his arm into the officer’s way and held out a phone,” according to Savalis’ police report — an accusation that Glik denies.

The report then states that the Moscow-born lawyer, who graduated at the top of his NESL class and was on the law review, walked around the officers and continued recording the scene.

When one of the officers asked if he was using audio and video on the phone, Glik reportedly said: “I sure am using audio.”

The officers were not amused with the response and handcuffed and arrested the 31-year-old, who has aspirations of being a prosecutor.

And now the prosecutors, instead of dismissing what is clearly a bogus charged filed by a pissed-off police officer, are going ahead with prosecuting Gilk for committing the “crime” of filming the police in the performance of their official duties while in a public place.

The moral of the story — Big Brother is watching you, but don’t watch Big Brother

H/T: Cato@Liberty

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8 Comments

  1. Wow.

    Comment by Mark — January 28, 2008 @ 3:04 pm
  2. Mark,

    I’m not familiar with the Mass. wiretapping laws, but I can’t imagine this case holding up in Court.

    Which is why the fact that the prosecutor is still pursuing it is disturbing.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — January 28, 2008 @ 3:06 pm
  3. Wasn’t there a case (maybe not in Mass) about video being allowed, but not audio? Even still, I don’t see how it could be considered eavesdropping when he made absolutely no attempt to conceal the recording.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — January 28, 2008 @ 3:54 pm
  4. “[He] reached out and placed his arm into the officer’s way and held out a phone,” according to Savalis’ police report — an accusation that Glik denies.”

    How does that summarily equal “bogus”? Do we have any documentary evidence either way yet? Or are you referring only to wiretapping charge and not the rest?

    Comment by KipEsquire — January 28, 2008 @ 7:38 pm
  5. Kip,

    I’m referring to the wiretapping charge.

    If he’d been charged with interfering with police business, or whatever they call it in Mass., that might be a different story.

    But to turn this into a “wiretapping” case seems a stretch.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — January 28, 2008 @ 7:41 pm
  6. It may make it through the peanut gallery but never think this case will ever be heard by the big boys that have the final say!

    This victim is a Law Student (and a smart one evidently) and he will certainly take this all the way if need be! He will then turn around and sue the snot out of them and the taxpayers will loose again because some dirty cop can not conform to today’s technology. Cops use video and audio and for them to say we can not is ludicrous and will never be an accepted tactic.

    Video and audio have caused a lot of police in the US some major problems; therefore they are scared of it unless they control it! Ever heard about a case where the person claims abuse and the tape is missing? Really that is obstruction of justice but you never hear of them being charged with it.

    Comment by John Doe — January 28, 2008 @ 8:33 pm
  7. I wonder if the lawyer planned it this way? From the article he seemed to purposely provoke the police with his response and his actions during the recording. Would be interesting to know if he was trying to cause a scene so he could make a case about it in court

    Comment by Chris Brewer — January 29, 2008 @ 6:44 am
  8. Hmm, this would be stupid then since he has a lot more at stake in terms of employment opportunities lost and legal costs. But the thing about this law is that if his actions constitute wiretapping, it also constitutes the actions of the press. Applying the law in this manner is an abridgment of first amendment rights.

    Also you have to learn a bit of how a police state would work from Burma and China. They control video and photographic media as much as possible to limit the impact of the press. Without recorded evidence, propaganda comes down to an issue of he said she said.

    Comment by TanGeng — January 29, 2008 @ 7:50 am

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