Gilmer v. Mississippi: will US Supreme Court hear case of criminalizing unauthorized videotaping of a person through a window visible to public view in her home?

News: According to SCOTUS blog, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to review a case involving a criminal law that prohibited “video voyeurism.” Basically, a guy (an elected constable) sat in his car in the parking lot and videotaped a woman (fully clothed) through her balcony window for 1 hour or so, on at least 5 different occasions. Anyone passing by her window could see her.

As described by the Mississippi Supreme Court, the facts of the case were as follows:

“Eddie Gilmer was an elected constable in Madison County at the time of his alleged criminal behavior. He served warrants in Madison County, including at the Pear Orchard Apartments in Ridgeland, Mississippi, where Debra Clayton occupied a second-floor apartment. In March 2003, Clayton noticed that Gilmer would arrive at the Pear Orchard Apartments in his official vehicle marked “Madison County Constable, District Number 3, Eddie Gilmer” around 9:00 p.m. and park his car in a space in the apartment complex parking lot with his vehicle facing Clayton’s apartment about 87 feet from her balcony. Gilmer would stay in his parked car for an hour or an hour and a half before driving away.”Clayton contacted the police about Gilmer’s suspicious behavior. Consequently,police officers conducted five separate surveillance operations. Officers captured Gilmer on tape, recording Clayton with a hand-held video camera while she was sitting inside her apartment in front of her balcony door, which was open about eighteen inches. The evidence demonstrated that, while filming, Gilmer often zoomed in on Clayton’s chest and crotch area. Eddie Gilmer was convicted of 5 counts of violating Mississippi’s video voyeurism statute (Miss. Code Ann. 97-29-2006) and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Analysis: I have not researched the law in this area, so these are only my uninformed initial impression. The due process challenge raised by Gilmer is that the statute as interpreted by the Mississippi Supreme Court is vague–i.e., it does not adequately provide fair warning on what is proscribed. This is a basic constitutional challenge studied in law school.

Gilmer also raises a First Amendment challenge to the statute. This to me is the most interesting. Gilmer argues that the criminal statute is overbroad because it can criminalize the conduct of “anyone legitimately using a video camera.” Implicit in the argument, it seems to me, is the notion that people have a First Amendment right to videotape what is open in plain view to the public. I will think about the merits of that position some more.


6 Responses to Gilmer v. Mississippi: will US Supreme Court hear case of criminalizing unauthorized videotaping of a person through a window visible to public view in her home?

  1. Dee says:

    Again let’s protect the perv under the guise of ‘freedom’. I catch someone taping me or a family member of mine, the next picture on his/her camera will be of their intestinal passage.

  2. lauren says:

    maybe the stupid girl should have closed her blinds considering she was facing a public parking lot. it would be different if she was in her room facing her own backyard or something. under the crime that he was charged with the victim must have “an expectation of privacy.” she did not. she testified on trial that she did not have an expectation of privacy,she knew he was there, she was facing a public parking lot and her blinds were open, not to mention she CAME TO THE WINDOW. under that law the victim must also be in a “state of undress. ” she was NEVER in a state of undress.. there were more than this too. every provision under that law was DISPROVED. one of the judges even said that mr gilmers actions were distasteful, yet not necessarily against the law. i know what this case is about… POLITICS.. I mean how convenient for his trial to fall RIGHT before an election. sounds to me like some dirty judges were trying to fish for some more votes. i think these judges and all the people who aided in putting this man away for 15 years and ruining his life for something SO RIDICULOUS are far more disgusting than eddie gilmer. i dont see how they sleep at night. how bout putting RAPISTS, CHILD MOLESTERS, DRUG DEALERS, AND MURDERERS away for 15 years.. some of them dont ever and WILL NEVER see 15 years in jail. i mean, really what is our justice system coming to? an dif you cant count on IT then what can we count on? so please everyone, THANK THE JUDGES AND PROSECUTERS WHO PUT HIM AWAY FOR PUTTING A BAD NAME ON OUR MISSISSIPPI. because they did it for one reason and one reason only… themselves. and THESE are the people makin up our justice system? haha classic

  3. chris says:

    politics, period. anyone who knows eddie and the whole story knows this. its truly ridiculous.

  4. Darin says:

    I agree. It is pure politics. I know Eddie and his family and I knew when this case first surfaced that it was politcs. Judges got re-elected and they also defeated Eddie in the election so now they have the “Yes Man” as constable that they wanted.

  5. Robert says:

    Its a shame that this has happened to the Gilmer family. I think if anything lets arrest the whore dancing in front of the window for indecent exposure. He is a great individual, and a good constable. He had more friends than enemies. I honestly believe that most of this occurred when he helped with a investigation of CAMSCO company which was closed down due to Gilbert Solleck and his son Darren (who was gonna run for madison county constable). Darren was the security officer at Pear Orchard apartments at that time. And was actually friends with the girl that Eddie was filming. After Eddie shut down his Camsco, it was just a matter of time before all this came out. I know many ridgeland police officers. Most of them are corrupt and are avid drug users on a every day basis. I’ve ridden with Madison County sherrif officers that call on the radio when a pretty girl is pulled over revealing herself so she can get out of a ticket. They are truely pigs in every meaning of the word. I wanted to be a police officer when I first met Eddie. Now, I despise every man that wears a badge. I have no doubt that Eddie was guilty of what he did. But his crime was small compared to what “they do” (OUR law enforcement) every day. Madison county has the most corrupt badges. REMEMBER THAT. I’m sorry Eddie for the pain ,once again, you and your family are going through. Good Luck buddy! As for the sollecks and the rest of the law enforcement , ROT IN HELL!

  6. Jake says:

    well at least good ol Eddie didnt try to break up homes like the former Madison county constable S.E. “Billy” Steverson did. He has cheated on his wife for years and years. He should be the one that was sent to prison for corrupting families. How can women be so stupid to put up with such men?

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