Maryland Police may not claim a "privacy shield" when making a "traffic stop" Source: AELE Law Enforcement Legal Center, http://www.aele.org/, Reproduced with permission. Copyright © 2010 AELE "A motorist stopped by two Maryland state troopers recorded his interaction with the officers without informing them he was doing so. The recording included both video and audio. He later posted the recordings on the YouTube website. He was subsequently arrested and then indicted on charges that included, among other things, making the recordings of an oral private conversation." The trial judge ruled that the recorded audio exchange between the arrestee and the officers was not a private conversation as intended by the provisions of a state wiretap statute.* In the words of the court: "There is no expectation of privacy concerning a traffic stop on a public street. The law is clearly established that a traffic stop is not a private encounter." "Charges concerning making and disseminating the recording were dismissed, while charges concerning traffic violations arising from the same incident will go forward." "Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation." State of Maryland v. Graber, #12-K-10-647 (Circuit Court, Harford County, Md. 2010)." * The relevant Maryland Statutes, Section 10-402(a)(1) and 10-402(a)(2) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, provide as follows: 1. Section 10-402(a)(1): Except as otherwise specifically provided in this subtitle it is unlawful for any person to wilfully intercept, endeavor to intercept, or procure any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication." 2. Section 10-402(a)(2) defines oral communication as: "… any conversation or words spoken to or by any person in private conversation." NYPPL
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