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In the recent case, Glik v. Cunnifee, 665 F.3d 78 (2011), the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston recently held that the First Amendment protects the right of citizens to make video and audio recordings of police officers arresting people on the street. The federal court decision was particularly relevant in New Hampshire, where police officers in Manchester, Nashua, Weare, Portsmouth and Keene, have recently charged citizens with violating the New Hampshire wiretap statute for recording police officers performing their pubic duties.
Mr. Glik observed and recorded Boston police officers arresting a citizen on Boston Common. Believing that the police were using excessive force, Glik advised the police that he was capturing their actions on video. The police arrested Mr. Glik and charged him with violating the Massachusetts wiretap statute. His criminal charges were ultimately dismissed and Mr. Glik then sued the officers involved and the City of Boston for violating his civil rights. The police and the city asked the court to dismiss the civil rights claim, but the court denied their request.
The court held that the protections of the First Amendment are not limited to the mere act of speaking or publishing words that the government may not like. “It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, the First Amendment goes beyond protection for the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit the government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.”
The Court continued, writing that “the filing of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles. Gathering information about public officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting the free discussion of governmental affairs. The court concluded by stating that, “the freedom of individually verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.”
Police officers do not have easy jobs. However, the mere fact that performing their day to day activities may require them to endure certain unpleasantries does not change the fact that they perform their public duties in the name of the public, using equipment provided by the public, and to serve a public purpose. Monitoring and even criticizing the use of public authority and funding goes to the very heart of citizen activism that the First Amendment was specifically written to protect. The First Circuit Court of Appeals decided this case correctly and protected the public’s right to know.
Your doctor must complete the Workers’ Compensation Medical Form in order for you to receive the benefits that you should. You will not receive any workers’ compensation benefits without a form from your doctor certifying that the doctor believes you have suffered a work injury. You will not receive disability benefits without forms from your doctor stating the time periods during which your injury disabled you from work.
Even in cases where it is clear that an employee has suffered a disabling work-related injury, the doctor sometimes forgets to complete the New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Medical Form. This omission can disqualify injured employees from receiving the benefits they should. If you are an injured employee, make sure your doctor completes the form so your entitlement to benefits is not jeopardized. If you have a work-related injury, give us a call at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out on online contact form to see if we can be of assistance.
Facebook, Twitter, etc. are fast becoming a popular tool for employers looking for information about future employees. The social networking sites, according to one source, are used by 45% of employers to screen potential job candidates. At least a third of those employers have rejected an applicant because of information they discovered from social networking sites where the future employee talked about drug and alcohol use, nudity, bad mouthed a former employer, bragged about misconduct or made discriminatory remarks.
This is another reminder that postings on the internet are available for many people to see – even those you don’t intend to read it or use the information. All of those folks who are having fun on the internet should realize that it may cost them a future job because for employers it’s fast, free and easy and there is a treasure trove of ridiculous information posted by people. Young people especially enjoy putting their wild and crazy times on the internet for the rest of eternity. Social networking sites, including profiles, will tell an employer most information they might want to do know but are afraid to ask such as, gender, marital status, religion, age, and even a photograph to help show ethnicity, race, etc.
For future employees, beware of what you decide to post on the internet because it may come back in many ways.
“BIG BROTHER” IS STILL WATCHING – ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE RECORDS BECOMING EVER MORE IMPORTANT IN LITIGATIONSunday, February 6th, 2011
Electronic surveillance has become a nearly unavoidable fact of life. When you consider an average person’s average day, it is likely that he or she has their activities recorded electronically several times per hour between the time they leave for work and the time they return home. Chances are, their activities are subjected to being recorded even after they are in the “privacy” of their own dwelling.
When you stopped at the gas station to fuel your car, or a fast food drive-through to pick a breakfast on the go, there is a record kept. You are likely video-taped, and if you use a credit card, there will a receipt with an electronic record. It is not uncommon to hear on the evening news that a crook was tracked down because he used his credit card at a gas station or ATM card at a bank.
When you log onto your computer at work, it is likely that your employer has the ability to review your activities. If you think you snuck in that game of solitaire without anyone knowing, you are probably wrong! Your E-mail also leaves an electronic record, both on your machine, and of course with whoever you send it to. E-mails have become a staple of employment and divorce cases, and factor heavily in many other forms of civil litigation as well.
Many people seem to forget that E-mails (as well as text messages and other forms of electronic communication), are preserved for posterity, and simply type out their stream of consciousness. Doing so is a terrible mistake, and it is not uncommon for such mistakes to decide the outcome of a civil case.
It is just as common for people to forget that their physical actions are often video-recorded when in public, at the workplace, or even in certain private situations. Keep an eye on Douglas, Leonard & Garvey’s website for cases involving video surveillance right here in New Hampshire. They are sure to drive home the point of how important and damning video evidence can be. Douglas, Leonard & Garvey has also been involved in cases where phone recordings (usually in the form of 911 calls, but also voice mail messages) have played decisive roles in the outcome of litigation.
During your commute to and from work, your comings and goings are recorded by electronic toll devices like EZ-Pass, and even your car keeps a record of how you drive, which can be downloaded if you get in an accident. Even your home computer keeps a record of your web searches and other activities, which can be subjected to a forensic search if necessary in a civil or criminal case.
The moral of the story is to ask yourself this question on a regular basis: “How would my next decision look, sound, or read on a video, audio, or other electronic record?” If the answer is “not good,” then reconsider doing it, because it is just as likely as not that whatever it is you are doing, there will be an electronic record.