Category Archives: CopBlock.org

UPDATE – COPBLOCK

Cop Block Founder Guilty on Three Counts of Felony Wiretapping

It didn’t take long for a New Hampshire jury to find Adam “Ademo Freeman” Mueller guilty on three counts of felony wiretapping today, meaning he will spend three months in jail.

Mueller is already serving a 60-day sentence for an unrelated incident, so this sentence will likely be tacked on.

Although he could have been slapped with 21 years in prison, he ended up receiving a one-year sentence with nine months suspended, according to Twitter updates provided by fellow Cop Block members attending the trial.

He also received five years probation, which could land him in state prison for up to three years if violated.

Twitter updates also indicate it took about 30 minutes for the jury to reach its verdict.

While I wasn’t at the trial, it would probably have helped if he had retained an attorney instead of representing himself.

But Mueller has had success doing that in the past. However, even veteran lawyers would never risk representing themselves.

His crimes stem from phone calls he made to police and school officials which he recorded but did not inform them he was doing so. He then posted a video of the calls on the internet, which you can see above.

I called Cop Block co-founder Pete Eyre for more details but he did not answer because he is busy writing his own story on the verdict. I will try to update this when I get more information.

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Off The Path – Cop Block

Trial Starts Today for Cop Block Founder Facing 21 Years in Prison for Wiretapping Charges

In the age of citizen journalism where any citizen can pick up a camera and hold officials accountable, there are not many who have pushed the envelope are far as Adam “Ademo Freeman” Mueller.

The co-founder of Cop Block has found himself incarcerated numerous times over the years for his insistence on recording public officials in their public capacities.

He is incarcerated right now, serving 60 days on a resisting arrest charge, which actually is a result of a clerical screw-up.

But none of those stints in jail come close to his latest legal case in which he is facing up to 21 years in prison for felony wiretapping.

His trial, which begins today in Manchester, New Hampshire, has the potential to establish case law for years to come.

An acquittal will send the message that public officials do not have an expectation of privacy when they are speaking as public officials to a citizen on a telephone call.

A guilty verdict will send the message that police can record us without our consent but we can’t record them.

That, after all, is what law enforcement officials from all levels have been vying for all along.

We’ve seen so many wiretapping cases over the years, only for them to get thrown out of court because they usually consist of a citizen recording a cop in public where police have no expectation of privacy.

In fact, Mueller was acquitted on wiretapping charges last year in an incident where he was video recording cops in public in Massachusetts.

But this case is a little different in that he recorded a public official over the phone without specifically informing them that he was recording.

It wasn’t as if he recorded anything confidential, embarrassing or even that revealing. They basically gave him little or no comment and hung up the phone.

But in this age of citizen journalism, public officials will do all they can to keep citizens in check if it helps them from being kept in check.

The case stems from an incident at a New Hampshire high school where a student video recorded a police officer beating up another student.

School officials ordered the student to delete the footage and he acted as if he did, but kept the clip showing the beating and gave it Cop Block, who turned it into a national story.

Mueller than recorded a video of himself calling the Manchester Police Department and the West High School in the same city, seeking comment about the incident from officials.

He didn’t inform them that he was recording, but he did identify himself from Cop Block and it was clear that he was seeking official comment because he didn’t beat around the bush with informalities.

The cop hung up the phone on him in a matter of seconds and it is believed police record all incoming calls into the station.

And the school official answered a few questions in a manner that it was clear she was speaking on the record before hanging up the phone.

The New Hampshire wiretapping law, which specifically states that police can record citizens without their consent, states the following:

A person is guilty of a class B felony if, except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter or without the consent of all parties to the communication, the person:

(a) Willfully intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any telecommunication or oral communication;

To fully interpret the law, we must read the legal definitions of the terms used.

I. “Telecommunication” means the transfer of any form of information in whole or in part through the facilities of a communications common carrier. “Telecommunication” does not include any communication made through a tone-only paging system or from a tracking device.

II. “Oral communication” means any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting in expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation.

III. “Intercept” means the aural or other acquisition of, or the recording of, the contents of any telecommunication or oral communication through the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device.

In layman’s terms, a person is guilty of wiretapping if he records a conversation with a person who is under the impression that the call is not being recorded.

It was clear from the conversation that Mueller was seeking on-the-record comments and it was clear from the responses of both police and the school official that they were well aware of that.

We’ve seen how cops act when they don’t believe they are being recorded and when they are aware they are being recorded. It’s the difference between night and day.

Furthermore, these are all tax-funded public officials who were called at their tax-funded public institutions while working for their tax-funded salaries.

It may have been a little different if Mueller had called them at home after hours.

Mueller, who is representing himself, plans to use the Glik vs Boston landmark decision as one of his arguments, even though that stemmed from a case in which a man was openly video recording cops in a public park.

But if you read through the decision, you can see where it can apply in his case.

Gathering information about government 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.” Mills v. Alabama, 384 U.S. 214, 218 (1966).

Moreover, as the Court has noted, “[f]reedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government because ‘[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.'” First Nat’l Bank, 435 U.S. at 777 n.11 (alteration in original) (quoting Thomas Emerson, Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment (1966)). This is particularly true of law enforcement officials, who are granted substantial discretion that may be misused to deprive individuals of their liberties.

It was obvious from Mueller’s questions that he was seeking information to disseminate to the public.

And while some may argue that he conducted himself unethically by not informing them he was recording, the fact that he publicized his conversations shows that he was acting as transparent as possible. Nobody can accuse him of twisting their statements to his advantage.

Perhaps prosecutors are aware of this, which is why have already offered him several plea deals, which he has refused.

In fact, prosecutor Michael Valentine visited Mueller in jail and told him that if the jury found him guilty, he would ask the judge for a six-month sentence to be following by a two-year probationary “good behavior” period that could land Mueller in prison for up to two years if violated, the same conditions that he offered in the plea deal which shows Mueller had nothing to lose by rejecting the plea deals.

Don’t be surprised if they offer him even a better deal before the trial even starts.

Another fact that could possibly work in Mueller’s favor is the fact that New Hampshire passed a jury nullification law in June, which would allow defense attorneys to inform juries that they have the right to acquit citizens who violate laws that they find objectionable.

This would be a perfect case for jury nullification, especially in a libertarian-minded state like New Hampshire.

The only problem is that the law doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2013.

But that didn’t stop Mueller’s supporters from standing outside the courthouse last week to hand out jury nullification pamphlets to potential jurors.

And court officials didn’t seem to have a problem with that, according to the Union Leader.

The pamphlets provided information about jury nullification, and a hung jury, which is when a jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict and the defendant is either retried, or the case is dropped.

Clerk of Court John Safford said some of the people called for jury duty had been handed the pamphlets, but nothing was made of it by court officials.

The Union Leader, which is Manchester’s main newspaper, also reported on the new law last month, which means there is a decent chance the jurors will already know about their right to acquit a defendant of a law that allows public officials to remain unaccountable.

And that’s what this case is all about. There was no invasion of privacy, which is what the wiretapping laws were created to protect.

This was simply a journalist seeking statements from public officials at a public institution on the public’s dime.

That is not only protected by recent case law. It is protected by the First Amendment.

Read more>

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The Right To Video Cops and Security

 

A female officer spotted Hurlbut recordingand told him that he was not allowed to take pictures. Hurlbut took a few steps back, but continued recording as the security guards brought the arrestee to their cruiser.

After the man was placed in the cruiser, a male trolley cop approached Hurlbut, demanded to see his trolley pass, and told him to stop taking pictures. Hurlbut asked if it was against the law and the guard replied that it was. Hurtlbut asked again and the guard responded “It’s against out rights.” Hurlbut asked the guard what law made it illegal to take pictures, but the guartd refused to give him an answer. Finally, Hurlbut shut off the camera out of fear that the trolley cops might confiscate it and delete his footage.

Hurlbut said that several minutes after he shut off his camera, he was approached by another trolley cop who demanded to see his pass. Hurlbut said he produced it and the officer grabbed it out of his hands and threatened him.

On September 18, Ken Moller, president of Heritage Security Services, the company that employed the trolley cops, issued an apology to Hurlbut and confirmed that it is legal to take pictures and shoot video. “We have no right to tell people they can’t shoot down there,” he said. “My officers were wrong in telling him that. And I put that word out as soon as I saw the video. It’s a public place and people can certainly shoot video down there if they want to.

Heritage Security Services refused to release the arrest report for the smoker despite the fact that Hurlbut’s video showed the trolley cops using excessive force.

Sources

Carlos Miller, “Photographer receives apology after armed guards harass him for shooting video,” Photography is Not a Crime, February 5, 2010

Kathryn Snyder, “We Don’t Want You Taking Pictures,” San Diego Reader, February 24, 2010

Videos

Hurlbut’s footage of the incident

News video about the incident

12th & Imperial Transit Center, San Diego, CA 92101

Source: copblock.org

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Los Angeles, CA Police Officer Detains Photographer, Calls Him A “Fruitcake”

Updated Jul 30, 2011

On February 21, 2010, a photographer began taking pictures of a police officer conducting a traffic stop. The officer spotted him and launched into a tirade: “Me, I’m a citizen of this country. I was in the Marine Corps a few years getting shot at for you. You can move along,” he told the photographer.

When the photographer did not leave, the officer angrily called him a “fruitcake” and told him he was being detained for taking pictures. The officer looked up information about him in his computer and informed him that he had unresolved parking tickets.

The officer insisted that photographing people without their permission is illegal, however, he did not cite or arrest the photographer.
The incident was caught on video by the photographer, apparently unbeknownst to the officer.

Sources

Dennis Romero, “Caught On Tape: LAPD Officer Calls Photographer ‘Fruitcake,’ Detains Him,” LA Weekly, June 2, 2010

Videos

Source: copblock.org

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Atlanta, GA Police Harass Copwatchers For Filming Traffic Stop

Two members of East Atlanta Copwatch saw police officer conducting a traffic stop and began recording. One of the officers approached them, told them that what they were doing was illegal, then accused them of blocking the sidewalk, and ordered them to leave. The officer ignored multiple requests to identify himself.

The Copwatchers continued to document the traffic stop and noticed another officer sitting in a police cruiser who pointed his phone at them and appeared to take pictures of them.

The Copwatchers continued recording and were again ordered to leave. They ignored the orders and continued to document the traffic stop.

Sources:

Videos:

Source: copblock.org

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COPBLOCK.ORG – What A Great Site

If you are many people who just don’t trust cops anymore, then you will find this site to be one of your favorites, it is dedicated to holding the cops accountable for their actions as we should.

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