Judge: Dash cam not subject to Okla. open records laws

Judge Sheila Condren denied an attorney’s request for dash cam footage


By PoliceOne Staff

CLAREMORE, Okla. — A Rogers County judge denied a request for the release of a dash cam video recorded by the Claremore Police Department, ruling that under the state's Open Records Act, the footage is "not a public record.”

Associate District Judge Sheila Condren heard evidence in a nonjury trial in August, according to Tulsa World. Attorney Stephen Fabian was seeking the dash cam video and audio of 20-year-old Richard Stangland’s March arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Arguing for its release, Fabian said that the Open Records Act necessitates the release of the footage. Matt Ballard, who represents the city, told the court that videotapes are evidentiary and subject to the privilege of confidentiality.

Condren ruled that "the Fabian case is distinguishable from the facts presented in the case at bar, and finds the 'dash cam' recording is not a public record pursuant to Title 51 O.S. (Section) 24A.8 which is subject to public inspection."

The video is direct piece of evidence, and although it is not available under the Open Records Act, plaintiffs could potentially obtain the video through a court order, she said.

Claremore Police Chief Stan Brown testified that it would be a "travesty of justice" for videotapes to be a part of the Open Records Act, saying that some contain the most "intimate, personal, private information of a person's life."

Fabian said he plans to appeal the decision.

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