Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jul 2001
Source: The Herald-Sun (NC)
Copyright: 2001 The Herald-Sun
Author: Denise LaVoie (Associated Press)


BOSTON (AP) -- A rock musician who was found guilty of wiretapping after he 
secretly recorded police during a traffic stop had his conviction upheld by 
the state's highest court.

Michael Hyde, 33, said he turned on his tape recorder on Oct. 26, 1998, 
after being pulled over by Abington police because he believed he had been 
unfairly targeted because of his long hair, leather jacket and sports car.

Hyde recorded officers using an obscenity, asking him if he had any cocaine 
in his car, and threatening to send him to jail.

They let him go without a ticket, but several days later, Hyde brought the 
tape to police headquarters to try to prove he was harassed. Instead, he 
was charged and convicted of breaking the state's electronic surveillance 
law, getting six months of probation.

Hyde said the Supreme Judicial Court's decision Friday "slapped the people 
of Massachusetts very hard in the face."

At Hyde's trial, police testified they pulled him over because of the loud 
revving of his car's engine, a noisy muffler and a broken license plate light.

The court rejected Hyde's argument that the surveillance law was not 
applicable because police were performing their public duties and therefore 
had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

"We conclude that the Legislature intended (the law) strictly to prohibit 
all secret recordings by members of the public, including recordings of 
police officers or other public officials interacting with members of the 
public, when made without their permission or knowledge," Justice John M. 
Greaney wrote in the majority opinion.

In a strongly worded dissent, the two justices said the wiretapping statute 
was not meant to prevent citizens from recording an encounter with police.

Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and Justice Robert Cordy used the famous 
videotape of the Rodney King police beating in Los Angeles as an example of 
a recording that would have been prohibited under Massachusetts law.

Prosecutor Robert Thompson said the language of the law explicitly protects 
the privacy rights of all individuals, whether they are private citizens or 
police officers.

Hyde vowed to continue his fight.

"Right now I am looking for an attorney who wants to take this to a federal 
court," he said. "If I drop this right now it could negatively affect a lot 
of people."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom