Filming Police – Know Your Rights

Cell phone user filming police

Hot Media by Coco Curranski, Flickr Creative Commons

Uber Driver Told to Stop Filming Police

An attorney moonlighting as an Uber driver began filming police during a traffic stop in North Carolina, according to a recent article in the Washington Post by Peter Holley.  Filming police is becoming a common practice nowadays to document interactions with law enforcement.

One of the officers ordered Jesse Bright to turn off his camera.  He refused and cited his right to film police. The officer threatened to bring the attorney to jail, falsely informing him that a new law was recently passed preventing citizens from filming law enforcement.  The officer then initiated a search of his vehicle to which the attorney did not consent.  Bright and his passenger were eventually let go without further incident, after finding nothing incriminating.

Filming Police is Your Legal Right

The attorney released the video to the public as reinforcement that it is well within your rights to film police officers. The Wilmington Police Chief said that an internal investigation has been launched, adding  “… we believe that public videos help to protect the police as well as our citizens and provide critical information during police and citizen interaction.”

View the video and read the full article at the Washington Post.

PostTV spoke with the International Union of Police Association and the National Press Photographers Association regarding civilian rights and filming of law enforcement. According to them:

• You have the right to record and photograph police unless you’re physically interfering with them performing their duties.
• You must be on public property, your own property, or if you’re on private property, you must have permission from the owner.
• Police can tell you to step back, but they cannot tell you to stop recording. They cannot order you to leave the area if other members of the public (without cameras) are allowed to stay.
• If you’re going to record police, do it in an open and obvious manner.
• Under the First Amendment, there are no circumstances under which the contents of a camera or recording device should be deleted or destroyed.

 

Fortunately for the attorney, he knew the laws and his rights, but some citizens may not be so knowledgeable – especially when a trusted officer of the law deceives them. That’s why it’s important to know your rights.

Consult With an Attorney

If you believe your rights have been violated by the police, the NH Lawyer Referral Service can assist you with a referral to a licensed and insured attorney who practices civil rights law.   Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Top photo by Coco Curranski, Flickr Creative Commons

Probating Your Will Before You Die

A new state law, in effect as of July 1, 2014, allows a will to be probated before the person passes away.  Under this new law, an individual who has written a will that is likely to be contested may obtain approval of the will from the Probate Court in advance.  It proactively prevents disputes among heirs, avoiding costly litigation.

New Hampshire is one of the few states to have this type of law.

Read more about it in an article written by Paul Briand for the Seacoast Online.

If you would like to speak with an attorney about estate planning, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer you to competent and insured attorneys who handle estate planning matters.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Last Will & Testament Documents

The Right to Counsel

In 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with breaking and entering a pool hall in Panama City, FL and stealing money from the hall’s vending machines.  Gideon could not afford a lawyer so he requested that an attorney be appointed to him.  His request was denied because he was not facing the death penalty, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.   In 1963, the US Supreme Court reversed his conviction, holding that defense counsel is “fundamental and essential” to a fair trial.  50 years later, a NY Times editorial examines whether this mandate is being met.

While the constitutional commitment is generally met in federal courts, it is a different story in state courts, which handle about 95 percent of America’s criminal cases. This matters because, by well-informed estimates, at least 80 percent of state criminal defendants cannot afford to pay for lawyers and have to depend on court-appointed counsel.

Even the best-run state programs lack enough money to provide competent lawyers for all indigent defendants who need them. Florida set up public defender offices when Gideon was decided, and the Miami office was a standout. But as demand has outpaced financing, caseloads for Miami defenders have grown to 500 felonies a year, though the American Bar Association guidelines say caseloads should not exceed 150 felonies.

Only 24 states have statewide public defender systems. Others flout their constitutional obligations by pushing the problem onto cash-strapped counties or local judicial districts.

Lack of financing isn’t the only problem, either. Contempt for poor defendants is too often the norm. In Kentucky, 68 percent of poor people accused of misdemeanors appear in court hearings without lawyers. In 21 counties in Florida in 2010, 70 percent of misdemeanor defendants pleaded guilty or no contest — at arraignments that averaged less than three minutes.

Read the entire editorial by the New York Times.

The NH Public Defender Program recently marked it’s 40th anniversary.  If you are charged with a crime in New Hampshire and the potential punishment for that crime includes jail or imprisonment, then you may be entitled to the appointment of a New Hampshire attorney to represent you.

If you are over income to receive appointed counsel, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer you to attorneys who have satisfied specific  education  and experience requirements to receive referrals in felony matters.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

 

 

kyle.taylor@oracle.com

Generic Drugs Immune to Lawsuits

Debbie Schork, a deli worker at a supermarket in Indiana, had to have her hand amputated after an emergency room nurse injected her with an anti-nausea drug, causing gangrene. She sued the manufacturer named in the hospital’s records for failing to warn about the risks of injecting it. Her case was quietly thrown out of court last fall.

That result stands in sharp contrast to the highly publicized case of Diana Levine, a professional musician from Vermont. Her hand and forearm were amputated because of gangrene after a physician assistant at a health clinic injected her with the same drug. She sued the drug maker, Wyeth, and won $6.8 million.

The financial outcomes were radically different for one reason: Ms. Schork had received the generic version of the drug, known as promethazine, while Ms. Levine had been given the brand name, Phenergan.

 

Read the entire story by Katie Thomas of the NY Times.

If you have been harmed by a legal drug (generic or not),  call the Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association at 603-229-0002 for a free consultation with an attorney experienced with handling pharmaceutical drug injuries, or request an online referral.