This past Friday in Arizona, one federal judge issued an order that blocked a new law that would have made it a pursuable crime to try and record law enforcement activities within a sphere of eight feet in the wake of being given a warning.
U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi chose to side with officials of the American Civil Liberties Union, Arizona Broadcasters Association, and quite a few other news organizations, such as Fox Television and NBC Universal, by allowing the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction that sought to halt HB2319 that would have officially taken effect as of the 24th of September.
Representatives for the ACLU labeled the new law as a “blatant attempt to gut the First Amendment protections for recording police.”
“This is a HUGE WIN for our First Amendment rights that will allow Arizonans to continue to hold police accountable,” expressed officials with the ACLU of Arizona via a social media post. “[The law] is a blatant attempt to prohibit people from exercising their constitutional right to record police in public.”
As expressed via the court filings, the ACLU argues that authorities could end up arresting a reporter for taking a video recording while a part of a crowd during a protest if one of the police officers “walks towards the reporter and breaches the eight-foot distance” that stifles the ability of the reporter to try and move away from the approaching officer.
The new law stated that officials could end up charging someone standing in violation of the law with a class 3 misdemeanor that would result in over $500 in fines, around 30 days in jail, and over a year of probation.
The new law would have let the ‘subjects of police contact’ — which includes the person being questioned, searched, arrested, or any occupant of any car that had been stopped — to record the police within the 8-foot sphere so long as the overall act of recording did not in any way interfere with any so-called lawful police actions. ANy observers standing on private property would have also been able to film within the 8-foot sphere surrounding the police encounter unless their filming seemingly interfered with the actions of the officers or police has labeled the area as unsafe.
NBC 12 News, one of the plaintiffs, issued the report that Republican lawmakers who backed the new law made the argument that officers should have protections against people attempting to film them with ill intentions.
NBC, along with many of the other plaintiffs named in the case, filed a lawsuit this past month against Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, and Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone.
It was reported by the Associated Press that these outlets that issued the suits included Phoenix Newspapers Inc., parent of The Arizona Republic; Gray Television; Scripps Media; KPNX-TV; Fox Television Stations; NBCUniversal Media; the Arizona Broadcasters Association; States Newsroom; Arizona Newspapers Association; and the National Press Photographers Association.
Judge Tuchi put out a deadline of the 16th of September to anyone seeking to defend the law.