Occasionally I read an argument that is presented with such great magnitude that I stop and question everything that I know to be true. Today, recording telephone conversations is that very thing that posed a question. Not just your everyday run-of-the-mill phone call recording mind you, an interstate recording of a conference call of a court hearing where I was the defendant, sworn in under oath, and was dismissed before my attorney even had a chance to present my defense.
I’m a native Texan and I know that I am legally allowed to record all my calls while my butt is sitting in Texas as long as I’m a party to the conversation. As long as I’m psychically on Texas soil, being that it’s a one-party notification state, I’m safe. I’m not required to advise or get permission from anyone else I’m speaking with to record. In this case, the one party that has to consent is me. I give myself consent to record my own conversations. If I weren’t a party to the conversation, it would be wiretapping.
In July 2020 I received a letter from the Massachusetts Trial Court in Essex County, Massachusetts regarding an affidavit that a gentleman filed in order to obtain a protective order against me. Many people who are close to me know more about the issue of ongoing targeted harassment from this man and that I had directed him to stop contacting me. When he didn’t stop, I filed a police report with my local sheriff’s office hoping to get some protection.
When police get involved, typically the law enforcement agency will contact the person doing the harassing and they explain they’re in violation of the law. If I get law enforcement involved and then ask for criminal charges to be filed, and then I contact that person, then I’ve broken my own no contact rule and have to start all over again.
There is no such law regarding a hearing specifically for a protective order.
I had no intentions of jeopardizing this criminal charge so I did not contact him after I called my sheriff’s office. The affidavit came as no surprise when I read he attested that I had contacted him in a harassing manner multiple times. A blatant lie. But, I’m not here to stand my ground. I’m here to talk about recording a court hearing on a telephone conference call when you’re psychically located in a one-party state.
First of all, when I read that the plaintiff declared I violated federal statutes by recording the court hearing, I laughed out loud so hard my neighbor texted me and asked what the joke was. The first rule of public court cases nationwide is unless they’re sealed by the judge, the court reporter transcript or audio recording of the hearing is available upon request. I may have to pay a fee to obtain it directly from the court but this is most likely to cover authentication of the recording or documents provided to the requestor.
Court records are a public record,
and this is a civil protective order hearing.
Today I picked up the phone and called the FBI in Massachusetts and asked the question surrounding the hearing and my out-of-state recording. I spoke with two different agents and explained the situation and both agents told me that they had no knowledge of any such federal law that would prohibit a person in a one-party state from recording a telephone conference court hearing in another state. The reference to a federal statute that I was quoted is actually quite the opposite of what the plaintiff claims…
Federal law permits recording telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one of the parties. See 18 U.S.C. 2511(2)(d).
The next thing I did was read over the summons that I received in the mail here at my home in Texas. It has my home address on it so I know the court understands that my butt sits in Texas. The order to appear gives instructions for calling the court’s phone number to receive a pin number used to patch into the hearing with an appointed call time.
Nowhere on any of these documents that arrived at my home in Texas does it state that I am not allowed to record the telephone conference call. Also, when I called the clerk of court I was not told I couldn’t record and the judge herself did not advise me that I couldn’t record the hearing. You can listen to the entire hearing in the video below. The audio begins at the 0:27 mark.
The next detail that I sought to confirm is if I was prohibited from recording the telephone conference hearing simply because it’s a court hearing regardless of locale. Please understand that federal court hearings are not part of this question, I’m inquiring about the Essex County, Massachusetts Trial Court and any other county court nationwide.
Both FBI agents told me they’ve never heard of any federal statute that prohibited an individual from recording a telephone conference court hearing. One of the two agents commented that even if it was challenged that it would not likely be prosecutable because I was not located in Massachusetts during the hearing.
The state of Massachusetts cannot govern what I do in my own state. The plaintiff posted a screenshot of a page from the Boston Bar Association website which explains that recording Zoom calls may be a violation of the law. I personally believe that this was written for Massachusetts residents only as dictating what a litigant in another state does is an overreach. Here’s why...
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:19 says that judges should “permit broadcasting, televising, electronic recording, or taking photographs of proceedings open to the public in the courtroom
And if you’re wondering why this is an issue, it’s because I published a video that includes his very embarrassing audio of the sworn testimony in the hearing. It was revealed that he filed the affidavit because I reacted with ❤️’s and 👍’s on comments other people made in which he was personally offended by. It’s also my opinion that he perjured himself in his testimony. Make sure you listen all the way to the end, It’s a HOOT!
The link that accompanies the content in the video:
If the video above is removed, I’ll post a new link.
Just let me know in the comments below.
One Party Consent States
District of Columbia
All-Party Consent States