Friday, June 10, 2011

tape recording a meeting: Calif law

California Penal code section 630 to 638 addresses the topic 
of eavesdropping or illegally recording a conversation (or meeting). 
Below I have copied sections 632 (a) to (f).
Please not that 632 (a) is clear that consent is needed. But the issue 
really turns on whether the individuals had an expectation of a 
confidential communication (632 (c)).
Government Code section 54953.5 (of the Brown Act) specifically 
states that open and public meetings of a legislative body of a
local agency may be recorded (audio or video). The seniors’ meeting
 at Town Hall are not an extension of local public agency.
Since several now feel uncomfortable returning to Town Hall, 
one night infer that they were expecting their meeting to be 
confidential, i.e., limited to the participants. But I’m neither 
a lawyer or judge.
 632.  (a) Every person who, intentionally and without the 
consent of all parties to a confidential communication, by means of 
any electronic amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon 
or records the confidential communication, whether the communication
 is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or 
by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, 
shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred
 dollars ($2,500), or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one 
year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment. If 
the person has previously been convicted of a violation of this section
 or Section 631, 632.5, 632.6, 632.7, or 636, the person shall be punished
 by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by 
imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or in
 the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment.    
(b) The term "person" includes an individual, business association, 
partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or other l
egal entity, and an individual acting or purporting to act for 
or on behalf of any government or subdivision thereof, whether 
federal, state, or local, but excludes an individual known by all 
parties to a confidential communication to be overhearing or r
ecording the communication.    
(c) The term "confidential communication" includes 
any communication carried on in circumstances as 
may reasonably indicate that any party to the communication 
desires it to be confined to the parties thereto, but excludes a
 communication made in a public gathering or in any legislative, 
judicial, executive or administrative proceeding open to the 
public, or in any other circumstance in which the parties to the 
communication may reasonably expect that the communication 
may be overheard or recorded.   
(d) Except as proof in an action or prosecution for violation
 of this section, no evidence obtained as a result of 
eavesdropping upon or recording a confidential communication
 in violation of this section shall be admissible in any judicial, 
administrative, legislative, or other proceeding.    
(e) This section does not apply (1) to any public utility engaged
 in the business of providing communications services and 
facilities, or to the officers, employees or agents thereof, 
where the acts otherwise prohibited by this section are for the 
purpose of construction, maintenance, conduct or operation of the 
services and facilities of the public utility, or (2) to the use of any 
instrument, equipment, facility, or service furnished and used pursuant
 to the tariffs of a public utility, or (3) to any telephonic communication 
system used for communication exclusively within a state, county, 
city and county, or city correctional facility.    
(f) This section does not apply to the use of hearing aids and 
similar devices, by persons afflicted with impaired hearing, for 
the purpose of overcoming the impairment to permit the hearing 
of sounds ordinarily audible to the human ear.

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