A Federal appellate court recently upheld the constitutional right to record police traffic stops, which allowed a lawsuit against several New Hampshire police officers to proceed.
The court case stemmed from an event on the evening of March 24, 2010. Former Weare, NH police sergeant Joseph Kelley pulled over a motorist, and Carla Gericke attempted to record the interaction from about 30 feet away. Another police officer confronted and arrested Gericke, then seized her camera. Gericke was charged with illegal wiretapping — a felony carrying prison time — a charge that was subsequently dropped.
Gericke’s lawyers argued that charging her with a crime for filming the officers’ stop was a violation of her First Amendment right. The case came at a heated time as Weare, New Hampshire has come under significant criticism in recent years. The officers tried to argue that traffic stops should not be allowed, as they are “inherently dangerous.” But every court they appealed to rejected their claim. The case will now proceed to trial, unless a settlement is reached.