New Arizona legislation that would have made it illegal to film law enforcement action within eight feet after being warned was halted by a federal judge on Friday.
A preliminary injunction was granted to the plaintiffs by U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi, who allied with the American Civil Liberties Union and a number of media outlets, including Fox Television and NBC Universal, to halt HB2319.
This was set to take effect on September 24.
Arizona Judge Protects Rights
The law, according to ACLU members, is “a brazen attempt to undercut the First Amendment safeguards for filming police.”
The ACLU contends in court documents if a police officer “walks toward this reporter and breaks the eight-foot distance” that restricts the commentator’s capacity to move away, authorities may arrest the reporter for filming while in a crowd throughout a protest.
According to the statute, if someone breaks the rule, they could be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a $500 fine, up to 30 days in jail, and up to one year of probation.
The law would have permitted “subjects of police contact” to film the police within eight feet of them, provided that doing so did not obstruct any authorized police action.
If video impeded with police operations or the police regarded the location unsafe, spectators on private property would not have been permitted to go closer than eight feet to a police contact.
as Arizona is sued over its new law (not yet in effect) that bans filming police within eight feet, I wrote about a new lawsuit in Apache Junction over cops arresting and then falsely charging a man who was filming them https://t.co/pZJrypyb06
— katya schwenk (@ktyschwnk) September 8, 2022
According to NBC 12 News, Republican lawmakers who supported the legislation stated officers would be protected from those intentionally photographing them.
Lawsuits Filed NBC and Other Plaintiffs
A lawsuit was filed last month against Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, and Attorney Rachel Mitchell by NBC and the other plaintiffs involved in the case.
According to the Associated Press, The Arizona Republic’s parent company, Phoenix Newspapers Inc., Gray Television, Scripps Media, KPNX-TV, Fox Television Stations, and others are among the media organizations that have filed lawsuits.
Judge Tuchi gave anyone wishing to defend the statute until September 16th. Brnovich’s office and Maricopa Local authorities, according to Arizona Mirror, stated they have no desire to become involved.
I protect your right to record the police. Keep filming to keep helping. https://t.co/hXHxkTpwWY
— The First Amendment (@USConst_Amend_I) September 9, 2022
According to The Epoch Times, a representative for Bronvich argued his agency should not be sued since the attorney general has the jurisdiction to implement the legislation.
An attorney for the news organizations disagreed, pointing out the attorney general has the authority to intervene and execute the statutes that county officials are prosecuting.
Rep. John Kavanagh, an ex-police officer and the measure’s sponsor, told The Associated Press that Brnovich shocked him when he didn’t move to defend the law.
As the state’s attorney, Kavanagh stated, “I was expecting the attorney general would perform his job as the state’s attorney and defend a bill enacted by the state.”