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Smith v. City of Cumming

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
May 31, 2000
212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000)

Summary

holding that "[t]he First Amendment protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest"

Summary of this case from Toole v. City of Atlanta

Opinion

No. 99-8199.

DECIDED May 31, 2000.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. (No. 97-01753-1-CV-JEC), Julie E. Carnes, Judge.

Clifford Harold Hardwick, Hardwick Associates, Roswell, GA, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Kimberly Houston Ridley, Debra E. LeVorse, Freeman Hawkins, Thomas G. Tidwell, Hawkins Parnell, Atlanta, GA, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before BIRCH and BARKETT, Circuit Judges, and ALARCON, Senior Circuit Judge.

Honorable Arthur L. Alarcon, Senior U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, sitting by designation.


James and Barbara Smith filed suit against the City of Cumming, Georgia (the "City"), and its police chief, Earl Singletary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the City police had harassed the Smiths, including a claim that Mr. Smith had been prevented from videotaping police actions in violation of Smith's First Amendment rights. They appeal from summary judgment granted to the City and Singletary and from the denial of the Smiths' motion to amend their complaint so as to name another City police chief, Ralph "Buck" Jones, as a defendant in the place of a defendant originally identified as "John Doe." We affirm.

Jones and Singletary served together for several months as co-chiefs of police. Later, Singletary was chosen as chief, and when he left Cumming, Jones succeeded him as chief.

As to the First Amendment claim under Section 1983, we agree with the Smiths that they had a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct. The First Amendment protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest. See Blackston v. Alabama, 30 F.3d 117, 120 (11th Cir. 1994) (finding that plaintiffs' interest in filming public meetings is protected by the First Amendment); Fordyce v. City of Seattle, 55 F.3d 436, 439 (9th Cir. 1995) (recognizing a "First Amendment right to film matters of public interest"); Iacobucci v. Boulter, No. CIV.A. 94-10531 (D.Mass, Mar. 26, 1997) (unpublished opinion) (finding that an independent reporter has a protected right under the First Amendment and state law to videotape public meetings); see also, United States v. Hastings, 695 F.2d 1278, 1281 (11th Cir. 1983) (finding that the press generally has no right to information superior to that of the general public) (citing Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 609, 98 S.Ct. 1306, 55 L.Ed.2d 570 (1978)); Lambert v. Polk County, 723 F. Supp. 128, 133 (S.D.Iowa 1989) ("[I]t is not just news organizations . . . who have First Amendment rights to make and display videotapes of events. . . ."); Thompson v. City of Clio, 765 F. Supp. 1066, 1070-71 (M.D.Ala. 1991) (finding that city council's ban on member's attempt to record proceedings regulated conduct protected by the First Amendment); cf. Williamson v. Mills, 65 F.3d 155 (11th Cir. 1995) (reversing district court's grant of qualified immunity to a law enforcement officer who seized the film of and arrested a participant in a demonstration for photographing undercover officers). Thus, the district court erred in concluding that there was no First Amendment right.

Nonetheless, under Section 1983, the Smiths must prove that the conduct complained of deprived them of "a right, privilege or immunity secured by the constitution or laws of the United States." Nail v. Community Action Agency of Calhoun County, 805 F.2d 1500, 1501 (11th Cir. 1986). Although the Smiths have a right to videotape police activities, they have not shown that the Defendants' actions violated that right. We find no merit in the remaining arguments presented in this appeal. AFFIRMED.


Summaries of

Smith v. City of Cumming

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
May 31, 2000
212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000)

holding that "[t]he First Amendment protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest"

Summary of this case from Toole v. City of Atlanta

holding that plaintiffs "had a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct"

Summary of this case from J.A. v. Miranda

holding that there is a First Amendment right to videotape police activity, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions

Summary of this case from Sanders v. Vincent

holding that there is a First Amendment right to videotape police activity, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions

Summary of this case from Turner v. Driver

holding that plaintiffs “had a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct”

Summary of this case from Garcia v. Montgomery Cnty.

finding "a right to record matters of public interest"

Summary of this case from Dyer v. Smith

finding that there is a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct

Summary of this case from Benzing v. North Carolina

finding a "First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct"

Summary of this case from Project Veritas Action Fund v. Conley

finding “First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct”

Summary of this case from Crawford v. Geiger

finding Plaintiffs had a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct

Summary of this case from Ashenburg v. City of S. Bend

finding that the right to record police activity in public flows from the “general right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and ... a right to record matters of public interest”

Summary of this case from Mocek v. City of Albuquerque

finding plaintiffs “had a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct”

Summary of this case from Crawford v. Geiger

finding that there is a First Amendment right to videotape police conduct but denying plaintiff's § 1983 action for failure to state how defendants violated that right

Summary of this case from Kelly v. Borough of Carlisle

recognizing the First Amendment "right to gather information about what public officials do on public property" and "to record matters of public interest"

Summary of this case from Project Veritas Action Fund v. Rollins

recognizing plaintiffs had a First Amendment "right to videotape police activities"

Summary of this case from Hulbert v. Pope

recognizing "a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct"

Summary of this case from Charles v. City of N.Y.

recognizing a "First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct"

Summary of this case from Naveed v. City of San Jose

recognizing “a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct”

Summary of this case from Tisdale v. Mayor H. Ford Gravitt

recognizing First Amendment protects a “right to record matters of public interest”

Summary of this case from Pollack v. Reg'l Sch. Unit 75

recognizing a First Amendment right to photograph police activity, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions

Summary of this case from Mesa v. City of N.Y.

recognizing a "First Amendment right ... to photograph or videotape police conduct" because the amendment "protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest"

Summary of this case from State v. Russo

In Smith, our Court addressed a claim from plaintiffs who said they were prevented from videotaping police activity in violation of their First Amendment rights.

Summary of this case from Crocker v. Beatty

declaring a right to record police conduct, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions

Summary of this case from Johnson v. Dekalb Cnty.

In Smith, the court did not detail the underlying conduct but noted, in rejecting the claim of a First Amendment violation, that the right to photograph or videotape police conduct is "subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions."

Summary of this case from Holmes v. City of N.Y.

In Smith v. City of Cumming (11th Cir. 2000) 212 F.3d 1332, the court concluded that the right of free speech "protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest."

Summary of this case from Tichinin v. City of Morgan Hill
Case details for

Smith v. City of Cumming

Case Details

Full title:James Soloman SMITH, Jr., Barbara Smith, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF…

Court:United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

Date published: May 31, 2000

Citations

212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000)

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