Federal Judge Blocks Arizona Law Making It Illegal To Film Cops Within 8 Feet
A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a new Arizona law that makes it a misdemeanor crime to film police within eight feet.
Ruling in a First Amendment lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and several media organizations, U.S. District Judge for the District of Arizona John J. Tuchi held last Friday that the state’s new law is unnecessary because of other laws on the books—”simultaneously over-inclusive and under-inclusive”—and not likely to survive strict scrutiny.
“If the goal of HB2319 is to prevent interference with law enforcement activities, the Court fails to see how the presence of a person recording a video near an officer interferes with the officer’s activities,” Tuchi wrote in his order issuing a temporary injunction against the law.
The law, passed earlier this year, makes it a misdemeanor offense to continue filming police activity from within eight feet of an officer after receiving a verbal warning. There are exceptions for filming the police in a private residence, during a traffic stop, and if the person filming is the subject of the police encounter. But the law qualifies those exceptions, saying they apply only if the person recording is “not interfering with lawful police actions” or “unless a law enforcement officer determines that the person is interfering in the law enforcement activity or that it is not safe to be in the area and orders the person to leave the area.”
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. John Kavanagh (R–Fountain Hills), wrote in a March USA Today op-ed that he introduced it “because there are groups hostile to the police that follow them around to videotape police incidents, and they get dangerously close to
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