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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why what you do in public is not private

McCRAY v. STATE - October 31, 1990.

"The thrust of appellant's second issue centers around the police videotaping him walking from his home across the street to the MVA located at Mondawmin Mall. Appellant complains that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence the videotape of appellant crossing the street to the MVA. Appellant notes that the police conducted their video surveillance without an authorizing court order or search warrant. He argues, therefore, that admission of the videotapes into evidence violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, since a court order or search warrant was not obtained by the police prior to conducting the video surveillance. We disagree with appellant's contentions...

The application of the Fourth Amendment depends on whether the person invoking its protection can claim a reasonable expectation of privacy that has been invaded by governmental action. This query, as aptly noted by Justice Harlan in his concurrence in Katz v. United States,389 U.S. 347, 361, 88 S.Ct. 507, 516-17, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967), embraces two requirements. "The first is that a person have exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy and, second, that the expectation be one that society is prepared to recognize as `reasonable.'" Katz, 389 U.S. at 361, 88 S.Ct. at 516-17. The underlying rationale of Katz suggests that the Fourth Amendment is applicable to visual images where the individual has justifiably relied on his privacy.

Generally, one walking along a public sidewalk or standing in a public park cannot reasonably expect that his activity will be immune from the public eye or from observation by the police...

Thus, the videotape surveillance of McCray, in public view, walking across the street to the MVA poses no Fourth Amendment problem. Clearly, the videotape of McCray was captured in a public place and in public view. Consequently, McCray had no reasonable expectation of privacy when he walked on public sidewalks, streets and parking lots, since he voluntarily exposed to anyone interested the fact that he was traveling to a particular destination and meeting a particular individual in a public place"


Someone claimed that if I dance nude in public at midnight and someone videotapes me, I have a right to feel victimised if that person uploads the video to YouTube and people make snide remarks

Since this person did not understand the concept of there being no reasonable expectation of privacy in public, which most people intuitively would, I threw the ruling at him

This person also claims that contributing actively to class discussions counts as bribery - that exchange will be up once it is finalised.
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