Appeals court limits Florida law against secret recordings

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MIAMI (AP) — A man who secretly recorded a meeting with a Florida police chief is celebrating victory in a federal case with free-speech and privacy implications.

James McDonough was invited to meet with Homestead's police chief after he complained about an officer who arrested him on charges that were later dismissed. He recorded part of the meeting on his phone, and posted it online. Police Chief Alexander Rolle Jr. later said he didn't know he was being recorded, and the local prosecutor threatened McDonough with arrest if he did it again.

McDonough sued State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, saying that threat violated his free speech rights.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the threat had no basis in law because the chief never said the meeting should be private. Absent those expectations, the court ruled, Florida's prohibition against recording conversations without permission does not apply.


Information from: The Miami Herald,

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