Camera convicted him but raised battle over privacy | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com
Farmers beware: Big Brother may be watching.
Eastern Shore soybean farmer Steve Van- Kesteren learned that the hard way when he was charged with taking two red-tailed hawks, a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Act.
The evidence against him was a video recording showing him dispatching the birds with an ax.
Game wardens had put a hidden camera in a tree, pointed at VanKesteren's soybean fields, after receiving a complaint about protected birds getting caught in predator traps. The wardens had to walk or drive off a road, past a hedgerow, and travel about a quarter mile through one field and past a second hedgerow. VanKesteren said it appears they cut a swath through some brush to get to the tree."As noted by other courts, hidden video surveillance invokes images of the 'Orwellian state' and is regarded by society as more egregious than other kinds of intrusions," James Broccoletti, Smith's attorney, wrote in his appeal.
Broccoletti argued the case before Smith in December 2007.
"We have not found any reported cases dealing with the installation of a video camera on private property," he told the judge.
"In open field cases, law enforcement officers are entitled to, and regularly do, go upon private property to conduct their investigations," Sterling responded. "No warrant is required, period.This court says that government can put cameras on your property without your consent."I'll tell you, this opened my eyes about how the government works," VanKesteren said.
He wondered what Thomas Jefferson and George Washington would think.
"What if those people had come to them and said, 'We're going to put you in prison for killing a chickenhawk'? " he asked. "I think they would have started another revolution."
What do you think about it?