The Miami-Dade County State’s Attorney just lost a major ruling in front of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court declined to review McDonough vs. Fernandez-Rundle, the landmark appellate case which Katherine Fernandez-Rundle lost last year, that affirms citizens rights to surreptitiously record the police in the state of Florida. It is case 17–1034 on the Supreme Court docket.
“Justice has clearly been served in this case,” says Dr. Eric McDonough, the plaintiff.
Dr. Eric McDonough became a plaintiff against the Miami-Dade State Attorney when he surreptitiously recorded a meeting with the City of Homestead’s Chief of Police Alexander Rolle to file an internal affairs complaint after one of his officers, Alejandro Murguido, arrested him in retaliation for filing an earlier complaint.
He published his meeting with Chief Rolle online leading Rundle to send him a letter threatening prosecution, which gave him standing to sue.
“It proves again that a citizen can fight city hall and win, even against the overwhelming resources of the 300 lawyers at the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office,” says McDonough, “and the Florida Attorney General’s office.”
“We are pleased that the Supreme Court denied certiorari review in this case.” said Amir H. Ali, the Georgetown law professor who represented McDonough at the Supreme Court on behalf of the MacArthur Justice Center in Washington, D.C.
“We look forward to a prompt resolution in the district court,” says Ali, “based on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision.”
More importantly, the recording of Chief Rolle can be used against him in Dr. McDonough’s pending complaint that led to an Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation and in any civil matter.
He’s not the only one impacted by today’s ruling.
“The Miami-Dade State Attorney, Mrs. Fernandez-Rundle, sent a similar prosecution letter to then-Miami Herald journalist Jim DeFede in 2005,” says Dr. McDonough, who writes online under the pen name ‘Doc Justice’ and on his widely followed Facebook page, True Homestead.
DeFede is a journalist at Miami’s CBS 4 TV station today.
“Public officials under Florida law have no expectation of privacy and under the state’s wiretapping law, it cannot apply to recording them, including the police, ” says Dr. McDonough who recorded Rolle inside his office at the police station, “therefore DeFede’s case falls under the same body of law, meaning that he was dismissed from his job, and criminally investigated by that same office for a felony, without any basis in the law whatsoever.”
Now, the case will return to the 11th district federal court in downtown Miami, Florida.
The trial court will have to issue a new ruling on the plaintiff’s original motion for summary judgement in Dr. McDonough’s civil rights lawsuit, which incorporates the appeals court’s decision.
“Now that they’ve taken it to the Supreme Court,” he says, “the decision will be published, and it has become the law of the land here in Florida. You are now free to secretly record the police, as long as they’re performing their official duties.”