Randy Travis Can’t Block Release of Dashcam Video


     (CN) — Country singer Randy Travis cannot stop the release of dashboard video from his 2012 DUI arrest, a Texas appeals court ruled.
     Police found Travis naked and apparently drunk at the scene of a one-car accident in August 2012 near the town of Tioga, which is 60 miles north of Dallas.
     He was arrested after his blood-alcohol content was measured at over 0.15. Police also charged Travis with retaliation for threatening to kill the arresting officer.
     According to the Third District Texas Court of Appeals, Travis claimed not to remember the incident and stated that his combativeness could have stemmed from a concussion.
     He pleaded guilty to the DWI charge in exchange for the state dropping the retaliation charge.
     The Texas Department of Public Records received requests for the dashboard video of the arrest. The Attorney General ruled that any parts of the video that showed Travis naked from the waist down were exempt from disclosure.
     Travis sued for a declaratory judgment that a protective order in his criminal case barred the release of the video.
     The trial court ruled in the state’s favor, and the appeals court agreed in a decision written by Chief Justice Jeff Rose.
     Travis argued that since he recently suffered a stroke that impaired his ability to speak, he would be unable to “defend himself” after the video’s release.
     Rose disagreed, stating that the Texas Public Information Act (PIA) does not have alternate standards for videos.
     “While we understand that Travis objects to the release of the redacted dashboard recording — which was, in fact, redacted to account for his privacy — we are bound by law to construe the PIA as written and as construed by precedent,” he wrote.
     He added that the protective order in the criminal case has been vacated and has no effect.
     Rose also stated that Travis’s privacy was not protected under the Fourth Amendment.
     “What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection,” he wrote, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Katz v. United States.
     Earlier in 2012, Travis apologized to his fans after he appeared in another dashcam video. Police in the town of Sanger arrested Travis and charged him with public intoxication.
     Travis’s country hits include “Deeper Than the Holler,” “Three Wooden Crosses” and “Forever And Ever, Amen.”     
     Discussing plans for an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, Travis’ attorney said he would pose the question of whether video requires a different privacy analysis than is required for a document or photo.
     “If a picture tells 1,000 words, then how many words does a video tell?” attorney Marty Cirkiel asked in an interview. “This is a legal issue we want the [Texas] Supreme Court to address.”
     Cirkiel also said he wanted to present the question of whether the public has the right “to see someone in a mental health breakdown.”
     “If the EMS had gotten there first and taken the video, it would be protected by HIPAA laws,” Cirkiel said. “Does ‘who gets there first’ control? We think it should be based on what the individual is experiencing.”

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