EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

May 27, 2014

NH woman has right to film cops, court rules

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A federal appeals court has refused to dismiss a New Hampshire woman’s lawsuit against the Weare police department, saying she had a constitutional right to videotape a police officer during a traffic stop.

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals says citizens may videotape police officers performing their duties unless an officer orders them to disperse or stop recording for legitimate safety reasons.

In its unanimous ruling Friday, the court rejected arguments by Weare officers that they should be immune from liability, under a theory that allows government officials to make reasonable mistakes that do not violate clearly established constitutional rights or state laws.

The ruling allows Carla Gericke of Lebanon to pursue her civil rights violation lawsuit and claims that Weare police charged her with illegal wiretapping in retaliation for her videotaping a 2010 traffic stop of an acquaintance in another car. She was not prosecuted on the charge.

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