Video journalist jailed indefinitely for remaining silent

Jefferson City criminal defense lawyerAn interesting “criminal” case is brewing in a small New Hampshire town. The city of Keene, NH has a substantial number of libertarian activists who have cultivated the habit of carrying video cameras around whenever they have protests or other events involving the government (which they would like to see strictly limited or–depending on who you ask–eliminated altogether). One of those video activists will soon complete his first full month behind bars for not turning off his video camera after the local judge banned recording in the public lobby of the Municipal building.

Sam Dodson runs a YouTube channel for his videos called the Obscured Truth Network.  On April 13, 2009, he brought his camera to the public lobby of the city building in support of another activist who was being arraigned (also for the crime of videotaping in that same lobby).

The court’s marshall ordered him to stop–and when he refused–they arrested him for disorderly conduct. At this point he went passively limp and was then handcuffed and dragged to a waiting patrol car. [see video below]. Other friends of the man being arraigned that day were then ordered from the lobby–and when they refused–five more were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Police booked all the arrestees and released them later that day–all except Sam Dodson. Dodson refused to talk to the police and refused to identify himself. He has since been identified by police but the judge refuses to arraign him and has refused him a trial until he is willing to tell them his name. Dodson is on a hunger strike, only drinking liquids since he was jailed on April 13.

Writs of habeas corpus have been filed and rejected by the court.  The court explained that Dodson’s complaint was premature because he “may make the same challenges . . . as the criminal case proceeds.” But the case does not proceed.

It is quite possible that Dodson will eventually be found not guilty of the charges, but the state will not give him a trial until they have broken his will. He therefore remains in jail for the indefinite future.

More on the story here: Exercising Right to Remain Silent Lands Video Journalist in Jail Indefinitely and video here:

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Now that Sam Dodson has spent far longer in jail than any convictions would actually have cost him, this looks more and more like the authorities are just flexing their muscles with this guy.

Absolutely nothing would stop them from bringing him into court, reading the charges, setting the case for trial and releasing him until the trial date. It would cost them nothing. Instead, they seem intent on making martyrs.


Come back with a warrant