Victim Privacy and Police Disclosures

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2 Responses

  1. Howard Wasserman says:

    I agree with Dan’s conclusion. A few questions/comments:

    1) I will be curious to read the opinion to see what the court said about qualified immunity–whether it was so clearly established that this conduct violated the Constitution that no reasonable officer would have done it.

    2) The television station could not have been sued for receiving and broadcasting the tape, under Bartnicki v. Vopper (2001), a case that is having some far-reaching effects in counter-balance rigorous protection of information privacy.

  2. Howard,

    1) Yes, the court also concluded that the police didn’t have qualified immunity.

    2) I believe that the victim tried to also sue the television station but lost in a separate court decision based on the rationale that the video was of legitimate public concern. Part of the court’s reasoning in this regard was that the victim’s identity was obscured in the video. Had things been otherwise, however, I think that the case might have come out differently, as there is a widespread media norm not to reveal the identities of rape victims — and if the consensus of the mainstream media is that rape victim identities aren’t necessary for a story, then I think that this would support the conclusion that the information isn’t of public concern.