The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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We’ve been covering privacy issues and the violation of privacy rights. We’ve discussed in recent posts the unauthorized surveillance by a husband of the wife in her bedroom, the Anthony Pellicano invasion of privacy indictment and prison sentence in California and finally stalker secrets involving bullying. Each post involves the limits of privacy. At the end of December 2008 the Wisconsin appellate court ruled that agreeing to be naked with a person in the privacy of a bedroom does not waive the person’s privacy right not to have the activity videotaped. The Court’s concerns probably have to do with the nature of video and the Internet’s ability to make video so widely and readily available on sites like YouTube, AOL Video, Bullz-Eye, LikeTelevision, CNET TV and LiveVideo, to name just a few.
The Court of Appeals assigned the docket number 2007AP002130 for State vs. Mark T. Jahnke. The Wisconsin brief bank doesn't appear to have the briefs. I searched using the docket number, 2007AP002130.
The import of free video on the Internet and the damage that can result can be seen by the number of viewers that can watch a video. On YouTube there is a video clip Free Hugs Campaign - Official Page (music by Sick Puppies.net ). This video has been viewed 36,073,252 times from September 22, 2006 to the day I’m writing this blog post on December 31, 2008.
Consider the personal reputation damage that one person can inflict on another by such an action. An attorney could try the case, a jury award $10,000,000.00 but realistically this kind of verdict can’t be collected from the average Joe or Jane. There is no way to adequately compensate an individual from such an invasion into their privacy. Experience tells me the Court’s will universally come down hard on this type of invasion.
State vs. Mark T. Jahnke - 2007AP002130 Docket number Portage County, Court of Appeals, District 4, Scheduled for release on December 30, 2008. Opinion.
It does not appear the Court of Appeals opinion has been ordered to be published.
A married but separated Iowa couple continues to have a right to bedroom privacy. When one spouse surreptitious videotapes the other in her bedroom the privacy rights are actionable. (Dubuque County Case ID: 01311 CDDM012319) According to the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision Cathy and Jeff separated with Cathy remaining in the marital home. Jeffrey surreptitiously installed recording equipment and recorded Cathy’s activities during the marriage in the marital home. The District Court found the videotaping occurred when the “parties were separated and residing in separated residences.” The Supreme Court didn’t believe the record sufficiently clear to determine if Jeff installed the equipment previous to moving out to a separate residence; nevertheless did not believe it was relevant for a finding in this case.
The Court stated: “The long relationship between Jeffrey and Cathy Tigges was plagued by trust issues. Even before their marriage, Jeffrey and Cathy had recorded each other’s telephone conversations without the other’s knowledge and consent. Apparently undeterred by their history of discord, they were married on December 31, 1999.”
The decision discusses a video cassette recorder positioned above the ceiling, a camera concealed in an alarm clock located in the bedroom regularly used by Cathy, and a motion sensing “optical eye” installed in headboard of the bed in that room.” The District Court found Jeffrey had invaded Cathy’s privacy and entered judgment in the amount of $22,500.00. Jeffrey on appeal argued the judgment must be reversed because Cathy had no reasonable expectation of privacy that would preclude Jeff from recording in the marital home.
The invasion of privacy claim was tried in the dissolution action.
It’s pretty clear the Court finds married spouses even during the marriage, and while living in the same residence could be found to violate the other’s right to privacy if electronic equipment is used to record activity.
This is a case of first impression in Iowa but one that has been decided in North Carolina finding estranged spouses living separately have an expectation of privacy between themselves. (Miller v. Brooks, 472 S.E.2d 350 (N.C. Ct. App 1996)) And also Clayton v. Richards, 47 S.W.3d 149 (Tex. App. 2001) Even during a marriage the bedroom carries with it an expectation of privacy.
However, the videotaping of a person without consent or awareness when there is an expectation of privacy goes beyond the rights of a spouse because it may record private matters, which could later be exposed to the public eye. The fact that no later exposure occurs does not negate that potential and permit willful intrusion by such technological means into one’s personal life in one’s bedroom.
The Court found the content of the tape recordings was not the determinative factor about whether the one tortuously invaded the other’s privacy.
The Court noted under Iowa law, Iowa Code section 614.1 (2) the statute of limitations is 2 years. The statute begins to run at the last invasive event.
Breaking up is awfully hard to do.
The New Year is a good time for a good marriage resolution, like how about if we just try to get along. Today there are two cases involving a right to privacy.
In the first Anthony Pellicano was sentenced to 15 years in prison for invading the privacy of certain individuals. He along with 6 other defendants were charged in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with allegations including threats, blackmail, illegal wiretapping, paying bribes to public officials and racketeering conspiracy. The other six defendants include a public official, a law enforcement officer or the LAPD (a member of the dept since 1974 and a detective since 1984) and a law enforcement officer with the Beverly Hills PD.
What is interesting about the 60 page-110 count indictment are who the customer list included. On page 7 of the indictment the customer base for this illegal enterprise included lucrative clients, entertainment celebrities and executives, attorneys and law firms. Law firms and attorneys?
Breaking the law isn’t a part of our ethical rules. I wonder what firms and lawyers were involved in this enterprise and whether it will lead to ethical complaints.FBI Can Eavesdrop & Track (GPS) Via Cell Phones