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Citizen Removed From Township Meeting For Video Recording

Jeff Chorpenning was recording his local township meeting Licking County during the Summer of 2013. But not everyone at the Bowling Green Township meeting was happy with where he placed his video camera to record the meeting.

Some attendees argued that the trustees could require video cameras to be placed in a certain portion of the room. A debate broke out over what Ohio Sunshine Laws require. One lady complained he was not allowed to record them.

Someone asked to call the sheriff.

See the debate that occurred in the first five minutes. Then take a look at what happened at 30 minutes in.

Did the Township Violate Sunshine Law?

According to Ohio’s Sunshine Laws Manual, various court cases and attorney general opinions have granted that trustees have authority to adopt “reasonable rules” for use of recording equipment at their meetings (i.e. where they may be placed). This, of course, brings on the debate of what are “reasonable rules.”

The case appears to be that the trustees rules regarding where attendees could place video recorders was to prevent attendees from being recorded. According to the Digital Media Law Project, a project of Harvard University, Ohio law permits the recording of individuals without their consent in a public place, so long as you are not recording anything that you could not hear without sensitive recording equipment.

Have you ever been to a contentious township meeting? Even if your township meetings aren’t usually this exciting, make sure you catch it on video and submit it to our August Recess Video Contest!

Stephanie Kreuz

Stephanie is the editor of Watchdog Wire - Ohio. She is a graduate of Hillsdale College. You can contact her at Ohio@WatchdogWire.com for story ideas and ways to get involved with citizen journalism in the state of Ohio.

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