Photographer's rights

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by qalam, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. A New York woman has been awarded $1.12 million in damages after being arrested back in 2009 while taking photographs outside a
    military base.

    Those are compensatory damages. Now the jury must decide on the punitive damages to be added to the award.

    The Guardian reports that in July 2009, 58-year-old Nancy Genovese was photographing a display helicopter outside the Gabreski
    Airport Air National Guard in Long Island for a “Support Our Troops” website. She was confronted by a deputy, who allegedly told her that
    he would arrest her on suspicion of terrorism.
  2. david_henderson


    The damages set so far are disproportionate enough, I'd suggest. Its ludicrous that someone should be set up for years in recompense for this scale of hurt, which admittedly was neither deserved nor trivial and certainly deserving of something- just not so much IMO. OTOH I don't live in the USA so maybe my perception of numbers is different.
    What interests me more is what happened to the deputy who frankly just seemed to want to throw his weight around. He apparently caused the problem. Does he get to keep his job? His pension? Does he get to pay a portion of the award personally since its doubtful whether he was following set procedures or direct instructions? My point is that until rogue law officers are responsible for their own actions this sort of thing will keep happening.
  3. +1 for David! cb
  4. The defendants have the right of appeal, of course. The final award could end up MUCH smaller than the initial judgment.
  5. The only way to stop these constitutional violations is to make the officers personally liable for their illegal and out-of-policy actions.

    Cops have demonstrated again and again that they have a great deal of contempt for constitutionally protected photography. As long as the citizens are paying the bill, cops will do any damned thing they please, and lie about it when caught.
  6. To paraphrase Judge Taney in the Dred Scott decision,
    the photographer had no rights which the policeman was bound to respect
    Punitive punishment or not, these things would not happen anyhow if the police in question knew anything about "rights".
    "Don't Shoot!"
  7. The message this sends is that we should all stand outside military bases and take pictures in the hope we will be arrested and never have to work again. I'd take a few hours or even days in jail for a million dollars.
  8. It doesn't seem to me to be all that much about photography or rights. It's about a deputy run amok, which happens way too frequently. The lesson learned here is not about photos or civil rights. It's that something needs to be done about police training and behavior on the job.
    As to spending a few days in jail for a million bucks, only if I could choose the jail and my cellmate.
  9. Ah, yes, our legal system . . . This case will turn into a cluster f*$@k, if it hasn't already. The plaintiff in the case has a snowball's chance in hades to collect a dime from the police officer. No doubts his assets are so well protected, they may as well be stashed in the proverbial Fort Knox.
    Of course, the main issue this thread raises has to do with whether national paranoia implemented in the guise of security trumps an individual's constitutional rights, whether or not the individual is a photographer. Personally, I'd rather not think so, but I'm not sure in all cases. I had an experience several years ago in Manhattan involving my attempting to shoot something interesting going on in a loading dock area while standing outside the area on the sidewalk. I was threatened with arrest if I didn't back off.
  10. The New York Postreports (hat tips: Instapundit, Breitbart and iOTW Report:
    A Long Island mother of three arrested for taking pictures of an Air National Guard base in the Hamptons – while armed to the teeth with a licensed assault rifle in her car — has been awarded $1.12 million by a federal jury over her false prosecution by Suffolk County authorities.​
    As Breitbart noted, “armed to the teeth” in this case means in possession of one legal rifle. C’mon, NY Post! Cut it out.
    Genovese was arrested while taking pictures outside an Air National Guard base:
    Southhampton cops searched her and found a legally owned rifle that she was transporting from a nearby rifle range. She contends a deputy sheriff arrived on the scene later and said to her, “I bet you are one of those Tea Party people.” When Genovese said she’s gone to Tea Party rallies, he allegedly said, “You’re a real right-winger, aren’t you?” and “You are a ‘Teabagger’” and then added that she’d be arrested for terrorism to make an example of other “right wingers.”​
    Breitbart notes that she was jailed for four days until she could post $50,000 bail.
    The court dismissed the charge in November 2009, but [her lawyer] Brewington claims she “was subjected to humiliation and was strip-searched” during her four days in prison.​
  11. This might not be a popular view, but I think the punitive damage awarded is appropriate even if tax payers end up footing the bill.
    Police misconduct, when it occurs, is indicative of a faulty law enforcement culture which enabled and facilitated the conduct; the cop is at fault, but so is the institution vicariously at fault for allowing it to happen. Punishing the cop without penalizing the institution would be the same as throwing the torturers at Gitmo in jail while the institution goes on business as usual; it will also send chills through the police community if a cop can be held personally liable for every action they take while performing their duties.
    The legal system recognizes this, so they make the standard for prosecuting the police extraordinarily high such that not only must the conduct be egregious, there must also be malice with intent to cause harm. This is the reason the cops were not prosecuted in the Eric Garner case.
    The OP's case was awarded damages to the victim in a civil suit to punish the institution; there's no point in suing the cop if he has no assets but we can pretty much be assured that his career is done. By the way, it seems the original suit was for $70M according to the Southampton town hall meeting on the suit:
  12. Just like many other instances, where knee-jerk reaction was lieu of the "nation's security". Being in the public space (outside the base) should have been heads up for anyone who follows legal policy.
    It's a conundrum, the city/county/state tolerates this sort of behavior and is forced to pay damages....ultimately the public pays the bill....even if the deputy is let go. Soo, yes, we (in general) are dumped into legal system....and punished for disregarding laws, yet the "enforcer" also has policies to follow....but it becomes an "untouchable" ?
    Often people go to court to reveal the inequities/gaps in our legal system. Oh, if she was driving a tank...this would have nothing to do with the activity she was detained for.
  13. Just as we in society see 'knee jerk reactions' and assumptions to what photographers are doing, we also see knee jerk reactions to jury decisions by those that have no knowledge of the evidence as presented and the decision making process. In many instances, one standard for the former, the opposite in the latter.
  14. Michael, if the officer is one of the good ole boys within his department, I wouldn't be surprised if he was either moved to an admin position or offered a buyout to retire early.
  15. Why a federal jury? I don't know, does anyone?
    In the day that followed, Genovese claims that she was denied medical attention, was subject to verbal and physical abuse, held without legal council, had her money stolen n(it was left in her car, which was parked alongside a road), was injected with unknown drugs, put into a straitjacket for 3 days, injected with unknown drugs, and watched by male deputies when she had to undress for a medical exam when her pleas for medical attention were finally answered.​
    Another source reported that she said she was held and questioned for 8 hours without representation not even knowing she had been arrested.
    So it wasn't just the arresting officer involved in her humiliation. And she was a political prisoner, held on a trumped up charge. If the trial record shows she was injected with unknown drugs, was put into a straightjacket for 3 days, and was watched by male deputies when she was made to get naked: well? Kind of a major news story not reported as a major news story, with a slant that instead makes her case seem trivial when it wasn't at all.
    "What they took from this woman cannot be measured in money," said prominent Long Island civil rights attorney Frederick Brewington. "There is no reason to treat another human the way they treated her."
    He claimed Suffolk County sheriff's deputies humiliated Nancy Genovese after arresting her in July 2009 while she took photographs of a decorative helicopter on display outside the Gabreski Airport Air National Guard base in Westhampton Beach, on eastern Long Island. A deputy sheriff allegedly said he would arrest her for terrorism to make an example of other "right wingers," according to Brewington.
    "Ms. Genovese was subjected to a level of abuse because they did not share the same political views as she did and saw this as an excuse to deny her even the most basic civil rights," said Brewington.​
  16. The only way to get the attention of police departments who do this kind of thing is to hit them where it hurts ... in their wallet. Otherwise it will keep happening. The award seems low to me but maybe the punitive damages will compensate. I guess that department might not be able to afford their M1A1 main battle tank to battle their next peaceful demonstration.
  17. Where do police departments get their funds from? Who pays in the end?
  18. David, curtailing a police department's budget or nailing the department with huge punitive damages may help to draw the department leadership's attention to the issue. Unfortunately, it may also result in less officers on patrol. It seems to me that this involves throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
  19. Q.G.: Where do police departments get their funds from?

    No secrecy ! from for example "Stop and Seize" actions, but that is an Off-Topic subject matter, that we should not discuss :))
  20. I appreciate that the firearm was somewhat irrelevant, but by UK standards, carrying an assault rifle DOES constitute being 'armed to the teeth' :)

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