Fed Appeals Ct Rules for Fl Man Who Recorded Police

When it comes to recording someone, Florida is a two-party state. That means, generally speaking, one needs the consent of both parties when recording a phone call or conversation. There are, however, broad exceptions to this rule and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals just carved another large one. In order for the rule to apply, the conversation must be private.

In 2014 James McDonough complained about a specific officer to the Homestead police chief. The police chief invited Mr. McDonough to speak about the incident. McDonough agreed but secretly recorded the conversation. The Miami State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle threatening to charge him if he did it again because his recording was made without the required consent of the other party in apparent violation of the two-party rule.

Not so fast, the federal appeals court said. The court held that there must be an expectation of privacy for the statute to apply. While not ruling on any sort of first amendment issue, it seems as though any time a public official is working in their official capacity, they may be able to be recorded. The court noted that the police chief did not remark that this was a private meeting.

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