Washington Officials Pursuing Wiretapping Charge Against Citizen
A Washington woman is facing a year in jail for secretly recording a meeting with a pair of public officials about how the local police department abused her husband.
Yakima City Manager Tony O’Rourke said he pursuing the case against the woman because it compromised his right to privacy, even though Yakima Police Captain Greg Copeland was also sitting in the room.
But it’s clear he’s pursuing the case to teach Joey Anderson a lesson about daring to question the aggressive actions of the Yakima Police Department.
The audio recording can be heard in the video below, which has 315 views at this time even though it was posted last June.
But now that O’Rourke insists on pursuing a charge of “recording private communications without consent,” a misdemeanor charge that can land Anderson in jail for a year or a fine of up to $5,000, it will probably generate many more views, exposing his intimidation tactics.
According to the Yakima Herald:
The woman, Joey Anderson, is scheduled to be arraigned in Yakima County District Court next Monday. In an interview, Anderson said she was within her rights to record O’Rourke during a July 16 meeting because he is a public official who was in the course of carrying out his duties.
“I firmly believe they are abusing their powers and it’s a misuse of the law,” Anderson said.
O’Rourke has said he is concerned that allowing the recording to go unchallenged would compromise his right to privacy on other matters, such as confidential labor negotiations and other internal business dealings.
Anderson, who filed a motion to have the case dismissed, met with O’Rourke in July to raise allegations of police brutality in an April incident involving her husband Russell Anderson. She later posted the video of her meeting with O’Rourke on YouTube, which led to the city filing a complaint against her.
The aggressive arrest against her husband took place in April.
Police were responding at the time to a domestic disturbance at Anderson’s mobile home, where she was attempting to evict a tenant. A confrontation developed between police and Anderson’s husband, Russell. Police said he refused to obey their instructions. According to police reports, he was arrested after a struggle that resulted in both he and a police officer being treated at a local hospital.
Since then, Anderson has used the audience participation section of council meetings to raise allegations of corruption against O’Rourke, the entire council and the Yakima Police Department.
The council and other officials had largely ignored Anderson’s comments, in part because of a pending case against her husband on a charge of domestic disturbance, but O’Rourke agreed to meet privately with her to discuss the case July 16.
Anderson recorded the meeting on her cellphone camera, which she says was sitting on top of her wallet during the meeting. The meeting lasted about 40 minutes and included Yakima police Capt. Greg Copeland.
O’Rourke and Copeland say very little on the recording. Anderson becomes increasingly upset to the point of shouting at the two before O’Rourke agrees to review the case file.
O’Rourke later sent a letter to Anderson detailing his review of the case file that found her claims to be unsubstantiated.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Anderson’s friend, Maria Bosworth, said O’Rourke didn’t have to consent to the recording because it occurred while he was conducting business in his official capacity.
In an interview Wednesday, O’Rourke said there are any number of tasks he performs in his official capacity that must be able to remain confidential, such as labor negotiations and real estate transactions. He said Anderson’s recording violated state law, which requires consent from both parties to be recorded.
“I wasn’t concerned about anything I said in the meeting,” O’Rourke said. “It’s the principle of the matter.”
The fact that O’Rourke sincerely believes “labor negotiations and real estate transactions” involving the city need to remain confidential indicate he needs to be investigate more fully because he is probably has much to hide.
The Washington wiretapping law, posted below, is an all-party consent law, meaning everybody being recorded must be aware that they are being recorded for it to be lawful.
But it does make exemptions in instances of “threats of extortion, bodily harm or other unlawful requests or demands,” which is something we see daily with police in this country, so it would seem that she would be covered under this provision.
She goes to court Monday.
Intercepting, recording, or divulging private communication — Consent required — Exceptions.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or the state of Washington, its agencies, and political subdivisions to intercept, or record any:
(a) Private communication transmitted by telephone, telegraph, radio, or other device between two or more individuals between points within or without the state by any device electronic or otherwise designed to record and/or transmit said communication regardless how such device is powered or actuated, without first obtaining the consent of all the participants in the communication;
(b) Private conversation, by any device electronic or otherwise designed to record or transmit such conversation regardless how the device is powered or actuated without first obtaining the consent of all the persons engaged in the conversation.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, wire communications or conversations (a) of an emergency nature, such as the reporting of a fire, medical emergency, crime, or disaster, or (b) which convey threats of extortion, blackmail, bodily harm, or other unlawful requests or demands, or (c) which occur anonymously or repeatedly or at an extremely inconvenient hour, or (d) which relate to communications by a hostage holder or barricaded person as defined in RCW 70.85.100, whether or not conversation ensues, may be recorded with the consent of one party to the conversation.
(3) Where consent by all parties is needed pursuant to this chapter, consent shall be considered obtained whenever one party has announced to all other parties engaged in the communication or conversation, in any reasonably effective manner, that such communication or conversation is about to be recorded or transmitted: PROVIDED, That if the conversation is to be recorded that said announcement shall also be recorded.
(4) An employee of any regularly published newspaper, magazine, wire service, radio station, or television station acting in the course of bona fide news gathering duties on a full-time or contractual or part-time basis, shall be deemed to have consent to record and divulge communications or conversations otherwise prohibited by this chapter if the consent is expressly given or if the recording or transmitting device is readily apparent or obvious to the speakers. Withdrawal of the consent after the communication has been made shall not prohibit any such employee of a newspaper, magazine, wire service, or radio or television station from divulging the communication or conversation.