Federal Judge Rules On Police Recordings

(HorizonPost.com) – A US District judge in Arizona ruled last Friday that the state law limiting how close an individual can get while filming law enforcement is unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported.

In his ruling, District Judge John Tuchi, who suspended the law last year, permanently blocked enforcement of the law that was signed by former Governor Doug Ducey last July.

In his ruling, Judge Tuchi said the law infringed on the clearly established right to film law enforcement officers doing their jobs.

The law made it illegal for an individual to film officers within 8 feet or closer after an officer instructs the individual to stop filming. Even if an individual is filming on private property with the permission of the property owner, the law would allow an officer to order the individual to stop filming.

Arizona’s Republican-led legislature argued that the law was necessary to limit the people deliberately impeding officers from carrying out their duties. But after the law was challenged, even some supporters of the legislation turned against it.

In his decision, Judge Tuchi said the law would chill or prohibit “a substantial amount of First Amendment protected activity.” He wrote that the law is unnecessary given the laws Arizona already has to prevent interference with law enforcement.

The Arizona law was challenged by a coalition of media groups and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The challenge was destined to succeed after prominent law enforcement officials, including former Attorney General Mark Brnovich, refused to defend the law.

Republican state Senator John Kavanagh, who initially sponsored the legislation, said he had been unable to find an outside group to defend the law in court.

The Maricopa County prosecutor and sheriff’s office also refused to defend the law.

In its amicus brief to the court, the Associated Press argued that the law would limit the ability of photographers to capture interactions between protesters and police during rallies and demonstrations.

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