Federal Judge misinterprets Constitution in police film case



By Alex Lloyd Gross

Federal Judge Mark A. Kearney has ruled today February 24, 2016 that people do not have a right to photograph police in Pennsylvania. This ruling, which the majority of citizens in Pennsylvania and beyond  believe the judge got it wrong.  The entire incident stemmed from the arrest of two Philadelphians.  The actions by the Philadelphia Police have set the wheels in motion to cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees  simply because these cops did not want to be photographed while on a public street.

Rick Fields was lawfully taking photographs of police breaking up a party. The activity of photographing this is newsworthy and  was to be expected under a memo by the Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. The arresting officer ignored the memo and targeted Fields simply for snapping photos.  The incident happened on North 18th Street. The cop’s citation read that Fields was “Standing in an area of a police investigation while videotaping with a phone”.  The legal question was , what would happen if Fields did not record? He would not have been arrested. It also appears the cops screwed up and searched his phone without a warrant.

The second case involves an activist by the name of Amanda Geraci who was allegedly manhandled by a cop for videotaping outside on a public street. She was not arrested. in his ruling, Kearney said that he was not going to rule on whether the cops crossed a line while searching the phone. Instead, he said that because the two were silent and offered no criticism of the police or commentary, they had no guaranteed first amendment to record the police.

That ruling stands the United States Constitution it’s head  and puts Philadelphia at odds where other , higher judges in appellate courts in Massachusetts, Georgia and Illinois.ruled that citizens do indeed have a right to photograph cops. This ruling will be appealed and should be won, citing that precedent.  Kearney failed to take into account any criticism or commentary that would be made once these videos were published.That should nullify his argument.

Journalists and legal scholars are surprised and shocked at how thoughtless the judge was, to rule against the constitution. Many commentators believe Judge Kearney fell asleep in law school when they taught the US  Constitution. The ACLU will fight this all the way to the United States Supreme Court, if need be.  Once more experienced judges look at this, the verdict will be reversed. Kearney’s ruling probably  just kept him from advancing any farther in his career as a Federal Judge.