California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled that police officers raiding an unlicensed marijuana dispensary suffered no injury to their privacy rights when a closed circuit video camera recorded their actions, because although they believed they had disabled all such cameras, it was unreasonable of them to conclude they were not being recorded.

The Court’s summary in Santa Ana Police Officers Association v. City of Santa Ana:

Two City of Santa Ana Police officers were the subjects of an internal affairs investigation based on their conduct during the execution of a search warrant at a marijuana dispensary. The Santa Ana Police Department initiated the investigation after video recordings of the officers were released to the media. The video recordings were made by the dispensary owners without the knowledge of the officers, who had removed all known recording devices before executing the warrant. Plaintiffs Santa Ana Police Officers Association (SAPOA) and the officers (collectively, Plaintiffs) brought this lawsuit against the City of Santa Ana, the Santa Ana Police Department, and the Santa Ana Chief of Police (collectively, Defendants) and asserted (that) (d)efendants violated the California Invasion of Privacy Act by using the video recordings made at the marijuana dispensary as the basis for, and as evidence in, the internal affairs investigation . . . The Court of Appeals concluded the Complaint did not, and could not, state a violation of the California Invasion of Privacy Act because the officers had no reasonable expectation as a matter of law that their communications during the raid of the marijuana dispensary were not being overheard, watched, or recorded.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported officers ate marijuana. Voice of OC regrets the error.

Here is the video at the center of the case:

Terry Francke is Voice of OC’s Open Government & Public Records Consultant and general counsel to Californians Aware.

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *