The First Circuit Court of Appeals today decided an interesting case concerning first amendment protection for the publisher of materials obtained unlawfully. In the case, Jean v. Massachusetts State Police video footage was recorded by a nanny-cam during an arrest and warrantless search of the arrestee's private residence.
After the arrest, the arrestee gave the tape to the Plaintiff, Mary T. Jean, a political activist, who then posted the video on her website.
Shortly thereafter, the police wrote to Jean to demand that the footage be taken down on grounds that it was illegal, and threatened Ms. Jean with prosecution if she failed to comply. The police later “clarified” their demand, restricting it only to the audio portion of the recording. (Under Massachusetts Law, it is unlawful ( a misdemeanor) to intercept or surreptitiously record a person or persons without consent Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 272, Section 99)
Ms. Jean sought and obtained a TRO, and later, an injunction against the police and attorney general. The police appealed. Continue Reading