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Revealing Undercover Police Officers' Identity Not Tortious in New Mexico,

even when the speaker is aware that publicizing these identities may help others commit crimes against police officers; so the Tenth Circuit held last Friday in Alvarado v. KOB-TV. An interesting crime-facilitating speech case, and in some tension with some earlier cases involving witnesses (see footnote 18 of my crime-facilitating speech article).

Steve:
Wasn't this a Law &Order plot several years ago?
7.18.2007 3:25pm
Crunchy Frog:
What goes unremarked upon is that now two more men have had their lives ruined by accusations of sexual assault, while their "victims" get to remain blissfully anonymous.
7.18.2007 3:35pm
itshissong:
It was a law and order plot but in classic law and order fashion the twist rendered the intense moral and legal questions concerning free speech moot because it turned out that the guy revealing the names was doing so just to kill a specific undercover and they could prove that he ended up convincing some guys to do so.
7.18.2007 3:45pm
J. Mark English (mail) (www):
7.18.2007 4:00pm
e:
Crunchy Frog - I agree with your concern, but at least here "the city police department announced publicly that it had concluded the officers were not involved in the alleged sexual assault."
7.18.2007 4:05pm
Rick Wilcox (www):
From reading over the timeline of the claim, I'm also seeing an issue of whether or not failure to put a genie back in its bottle is tortious. Considering that (at least according to the Tenth decision) KOB-TV did not mention the officers' undercover status until the second broadcast, it could be argued that (assuming KOB-TV was not aware of the status prior to the 10p.m. broadcast) the revelation of Alvarado's &Flores' identities was not initially done under knowledge of their undercover status; this brings up a question as to whether or not the station could or should be obligated to then cease utilization of the officers' names or likenesses. It seems to parallel the Valerie Plame incident fairly well; the initial information was not disseminated under knowledge that Plame was undercover, and neither did KOB-TV necessarily initially disseminate the identities of these two officers knowing that they were undercover.
7.18.2007 4:11pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I hear Richard Armitage, Ari Fleischer, Scooter Libby, and Karl Rove are all moving to New Mexico.
7.18.2007 4:18pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
This type of thing often comes with with suits against radical anti-abortion web sites which provide lists of names and home addresses of doctors who provide abortions, usually for the purpose of inciting others to harass such doctors and sometimes do violence against them.
7.18.2007 4:23pm
whit:
iirc, originally the website was prosecuted under the RICO statutes but the courts overturned it.

site was "the nuremberg files" that listed the dr's name with added dripping blood, etc.
7.18.2007 4:32pm
Fub:
Crunchy Frog wrote at 7.18.2007 2:35pm:
What goes unremarked upon is that now two more men have had their lives ruined by accusations of sexual assault, while their "victims" get to remain blissfully anonymous.
Huh? From the first paragraph of the factual background in the decision:
According to the facts alleged by Alvarado and Flores in their complaint, around May 3, 2004, Syra Roman called the Albuquerque Police Department to report that she had been sexually assaulted by two undercover officers.
7.18.2007 4:42pm
whit:
interestingly several news outlets STILL refuse to publish/broadcast the name of the rape "victim" in the duke case.

so, while the point doesn't hold in the current case, it is generally true.

the presumption is bass-ackwards in rape cases. the presumption is that the defendant is guilty (enough) to release his/her name, but the victim gets the benefit of the doubt in not having his/her name released.

hmmm.

and STILL even with the understanding that the duke rape victim was a complete fraud, some news outlets refuse to publish her name. amazing
7.18.2007 7:18pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Thanks for posting this. I actually drafted the original appellate brief for the Plaintiffs/Appellants in April 2006 while I was a 2L. While New Mexico state law wasn't on the Plaintiff's side. The officers were done wrong by everyone in the case, but unfortunately it wasn't a compensable one. It is a damn shame what was done to them.

As a side note, I always thought they would dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds after the Coty was dismissed.
7.19.2007 5:40pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
I'm against secret police as a generally accepted police practice.

It is generally used in "crimes" where the participants in the crime (criminal and victim) have a mutual interest. i.e. prostitution, drug cases etc.

It should be reserved for cases where crimes (the kind with complaining victims or murder) are contemplated or covered up.
7.19.2007 8:13pm