In a statement of findings and recommendations filed last week, a US Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of California affirmed that a woman on searchable probation had the right to videotape three officers who came to her home to search it.From the court opinion:
The complaint alleges that defendant violated plaintiff’s rights under the First Amendment when he took her laptop away after she informed him that she was recording the search of her residence. As early as 1995, the Ninth Circuit has recognized a “First Amendment right to film matters of public interest.” Fordyce v. City of Seattle, 55 F.3d 436, 439 (9th Cir.1995). Other circuits have similarly held that the First Amendment protects an individual’s right to record police officers in the course of carrying out their duties. See Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78, 82 (1st Cir.2001) (“The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within [the First Amendment].”); Gilles v. Davis, 427 F.3d 197, 212 n.14 (3rd Cir.2005) (“[V]ideotaping or photographing the police in the performance of their duties on public property may be protected activit[ies]”); Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332, 1333 (11th Cir.2000) (“The First Amendment protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property,” including the right “to photograph or videotape police conduct.”). ...Similar reasoning should apply to other govt officials, such as judges, CPS, forensic psychologists, etc.
There simply is no principled bases upon which to find that although the right to record officers conducting their official duties only extends to duties performed in public, the right does not extend to those performed in a private residence. The public’s interest in ensuring that police officers properly carry out their duties and do not abuse the authority bestowed on them by society does not cease once they enter the private residence of a citizen.
To the contrary, there appears to be an even greater interest for such recordings when a police officer’s actions are shielded from the public’s view. Further, there is no reason to believe that plaintiff’s status as a probationer would diminish the public’s interest in how police exercise their authority in a private citizen’s homes….