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MD May Prosecute ACORN Videotapers

From Baltimore’s radio station,  WBAL:

State’s attorney Patricia Jessamy

State’s Attorney Considers Prosecuting ACORN Video Posters

Friday, September 11, 2009 – Anne Kramer, Robert Lang and Associated Press

The activist group ACORN has fired two employees of its Baltimore office who were seen on hidden-camera video giving advice to a man posing as a pimp and a woman posing as a prostitute…

ACORN spokeswoman Sonja Merchant-Jones told WBAL-TV  that she believes the video may have been altered to make the organization look bad.

The statement also says the video was an "attempt to smear ACORN" and that undercover teams attempted similar stunts in at least three other ACORN offices…

The Baltimore city state’s attorney is considering prosecuting those responsible for taping the ACORN employees on charges that they violated Maryland’s wiretap laws.


Baltimore, MD – September 11, 2009 – We have received inquiries from citizens and the media asking whether the Baltimore City State’s Attorneys Office would initiate a criminal investigation for acts allegedly committed at ACORN offices located in Baltimore.  The only information received in reference to this alleged criminal behavior was a YouTube video.  Upon review by this office, the video appears to be incomplete.  In addition, the audio portion could possibly have been obtained in violation of Maryland Law, Annotated Code of Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article §10-402, which requires two party consent.

If it is determined that the audio portion now being heard on YouTube was illegally obtained, it is also illegal under Maryland Law to willfully use or willfully disclose the content of said audio.  The penalty for the unlawful interception, disclosure or use of it is a felony punishable up to 5 years.

The Maryland state prosecutor’s office went after Linda Tripp in the 1990s on two wiretap charges. Tripp was accused of illegally taping a phone conversation with Monica Lewinsky about her relationship with then-President Bill Clinton and disclosing the conversation to Newsweek. Prosecutors decided to drop the case when Lewinsky’s testimony was suppressed…

We don’t have the Code Of Maryland before us, but as we recall from the Linda Tripp precedent, that law discourages the wiretapping of telephone conversations, as opposed to what used to be call undercover investigative journalism.

The ABC News investigation of North Carolina’s Food Line grocery store chain comes to mind.

From Wikipedia:

In the 1990s, Food Lion gained a degree of notoriety when it was the subject of an ABC News investigation. ABC had received a tip about unsanitary practices at Food Lion. Two ABC reporters had posed as Food Lion employees, and witnessed the unsanitary practices at Food Lion. Much of what they had seen was videotaped with cameras hidden in wigs that they were wearing. The footage was then featured in a segment on the news magazine Primetime Live, in which Food Lion’s unsanitary practices, which included bleaching discolored, expired pork with Clorox and repackaging expired meats with new expiration dates, and the use of nail polish remover to remove the expiration dates from dairy item packages were exposed.

The company responded by suing ABC for fraud, claiming that the ABC employees misrepresented themselves; for trespassing, because the ABC employees came on to Food Lion property without permission; and for breach of loyalty, the ABC employees videotaped non-public areas of the store and revealed internal company information. During the court battles between Food Lion and ABC, over 40 hours of unused footage were released that helped Food Lion’s case. In the unused footage, two undercover producers are seen trying to encourage violations of company policy; however, employees resisted and correctly followed sanitary practices.

Food Lion was awarded USD$5.5 million by a jury in 1997. The award was later reduced by a judge to $316,000. The verdict was then overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. According to the court, even though ABC was wrong to do what they had done, Food Lion was unable to show that they had been directly injured by ABC’s actions – essentially that it was the actions of Food Lion that caused the damages, not the publication of those actions.

Note that a federal district court eventually found in favor of ABC News.

Note too that there was no mention of any violation of any illegal gathering of video or audio content without the party’s consent.

Furthermore, note that the ACORN investigators did not trespass or violate any loyalty oaths.

Nor did they encourage the ACORN employees to do anything illegal.

And, lastly, just as in the Food Lion case, whatever damages ACORN may suffer from this (“alleged”) incident are the fault of its own actions, not due to the publication of their actions.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, September 12th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

18 Responses to “MD May Prosecute ACORN Videotapers”

  1. Confucius says:

    Also from Wikipedia:

    “Since taking office Jessamy has upgraded the office’s computer technology, expanded its homicide division, created a special gun prosecuting unit, a wiretapping unit, and several community-outreach programs.”

    Wikipedia also states Patricia Jessamy is a Democrat. (Well, duh.)

  2. jrmcdonald says:

    Perhaps if someone looks, you will find that State’s attorney Patricia Jessamy has worked with ACORN, and has supported them in public statements. This could be considered a conflict reguarding this case.

    • Gila Monster says:

      All excellent points JrM, but a raving lunatic Democrat recuse themselves from a case due to conflict of interest? Never happen, at least not in our life time.
      Sad times indeed.

  3. DANEgerus says:

    Obama Thug Patricia Jessamy is mentioned in a book called ‘Snitch”…

    Jessamy… said that the DVD proved that legislation needed to be passed in Maryland increasing the punishment for witness intimidation from five years to twenty.

    I assume that Patricia Jessamy won’t be prosecuting herself.

  4. Remember when 20-20 and Sixty-minutes used to use this same technique. At one time, producers used to go in and tape used car dealers making false claims or repairman wanting payment for work that wasn’t done. Mike Wallace or Morley Safer would show up with the video and chase them around.

  5. Enthalpy says:

    This is a great place to draw a line in the sand. Where do we send the money for the war chest?

  6. Tater Salad says:

    Bring it on with the indictments and trial. For one, I hope I can get on that jury because they will be found innocent of all charges and in-fact, the two kids who did the taping will be awarded punitive damages.

  7. VMAN says:

    I gotta tell you between the idiot in chief, reverend Wright, FarraCON, Chicken Al, Van Jones and tools like this woman I find myself fighting not to become a racist. I grew up there and don’t want to go back. I don’t mind standing on level ground with any man but these idiots don’t want equal right they want superior rights and that AIN’T gonna happen.

  8. Reality Bytes says:

    You know, they don’t call them Baltimorons for nuthin’

  9. proreason says:

    Please, please prosecute them.

    Please, please do it.

    Be proud. Tell us who you are. Shout out what you support.

    If it’s gonna rain, let it be a hard rain. Let it wash away all the filth. Get it over with.

    Lock and load.

  10. platypus says:

    It isn’t hope & change – it’s cope with the deranged.

    Check this out. Looks like a pattern to me.


    • TwilightZoned says:

      While this is disgusting, it fits Barry’s MO.
      I believe we will see more of the same, much more.

  11. MinnesotaRush says:

    Besides doing all we can for these terrific young investigative journalists, we may want to remember to offer a few prayers for their safety and well being.

    This ACORN group and ALL of its’ tenents (o-blah-blah and gang included) are entirely untrustworthy and devious. I wouldn’t put anything as off limits to them. Any of them. TOP .. to bottom.

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