There's Nothing to See Here Folks: Maryland Judge Dismisses Charges Filed Against Air National Guard Sgt. For Videotaping His Own Traffic Stop in the DMV Area
In April of this past year, a Maryland state trooper pulled over Maryland Air National Guard Sgt. Anthony Graber for speeding on his motorcycle. The plain clothes trooper who exited his unmarked car with his gun drawn was unaware that Graber was recording the traffic stop on a helmet-mounted video camera. After receiving his ticket, Graber posted the video on You Tube. You can see the video yourself if you click on the play button above this post.
Several days after Graber posted the video, the Harford County State's Attorney filed felony charges against Graber alleging that he had violated the state's wiretapping statute. This week a Maryland judge dismissed the wiretapping charges on grounds that the police have no reasonable expectation in their official communications.
At this point you may be wondering what a helmet camera has to do with wiretapping. Wiretapping generally conjures up images of secret microphones hidden in lamps and police sitting in a van outside a mafia social club, and while that does happen, the law may actually address any audio or video recordings of conversations.
The purpose of these laws is to prevent the secret recording of seemingly private conversations without a warrant. Some states allow for the secret recording if at least one party to the conversation knows about the recording. This is called a "one party consent" jurisdiction. The theory behind this is that whenever you speak to somebody, you assume the risk that the other person may be recording the conversation. It was under this type of system that Colorado police were able to secretly record basketball player, Kobe Bryant, during a 2003 sexual assault investigation.