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'Copblock' wiretap case goes to court in Manchester
MANCHESTER — Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in Hillsborough County Superior Court North for the wiretap trial of Adam Mueller, 30, who in a blog post Friday said he has refused a plea deal that could have avoided him prison time.
Mueller, also known as Ademo Freeman, was indicted in November 2011 on three counts of wiretapping. He is accused of recording phone conversations with a Manchester police captain, the Manchester High School West principal and a school secretary, all without their permission.
In a post on Copblock.org, Mueller, writing under his alias, claims he was offered a plea deal of a two-year suspended sentence by Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael G. Valentine.
“Here's how I see the offer: it's a stellar deal if I actually thought what I had done was wrong,” Mueller wrote.
He said he is refusing the deal.
“First, I can't go against my principles and sign a deal that says I acknowledge my actions as wrong or illegal,” he wrote. “Second, I'm not a hypocrite. How can I advocate refusing plea deals and sign one myself? I don't judge anyone who has taken pleas because each case/charge is different. Third, I am confident I can show a jury, with facts and logic, that I shouldn't be caged for my actions.”
Valentine could not be reached for comment.
The conversations involved an incident Oct. 3 at West High School in which a school resource officer arrested a student in the cafeteria. The incident was videotaped by another student, who had met Mueller and his CopBlock.org co-founder, Peter Eyre, a few weeks before.
Mueller is accused of recording conversations about the incident Oct. 4 with Police Capt. Jonathan Hopkins, West Principal Mary Ellen McGorry, and West secretary Denise Michael, without their consent.
The student video shows the officer grab a student, push him face down on a cafeteria table and handcuff him. As part of the videotape posted on CopBlock.org, Mueller included portions of recorded phone calls with Hopkins, McGorry and Michael.
Under the state's wiretap law, it is a crime to audio-record someone without his permission if the speaker has a reasonable expectation that what he is saying is not subject to interception.
Mueller claims he told the people he was recording that he was from CopBlock.org and was seeking comment about the incident, but edited that portion out of the video posted on the website.
In his blog entry, Mueller said he looks forward to his trial.
“So, unless Michael Valentine or the judge decides to drop my charges completely, I say, 'Let the circus begin!'” he wrote.
Mueller joined the Free State movement when members passed through Jackson, Wis., where he was living at the time. The Free State Project is an effort to relocate 20,000 libertarian-minded people to New Hampshire to engage in the local political process in hopes of creating communities where government involvement is limited.
Mueller and his supporters argue that a public official who is on duty and in a public space has no expectation of privacy, citing a 2011 First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. Glik v. Cunniffe involved a man arrested after recording Boston police making an arrest on Boston Common in 2007. The ruling states that the First Amendment protects the right to record police in public.
Simon Glik was charged with illegal wiretapping, aiding the escape of a prisoner, and disturbing the peace. After a Boston Municipal Court judge dismissed the criminal charges, Glik filed a civil rights suit in federal court.
Wiretapping is a class B felony; each of Mueller's felony charges carries a prison term of 3 1/2 to seven years and a fine.
In January, Mueller was given two concurrent 12-month sentences, with 10 months suspended, on resisting arrest convictions in connection with an incident in June 2011 in which people chalked comments on the walls of the Manchester Police Department.
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