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Library Chief Criticized for Requiring Subpoena 715

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the by-the-book dept.
sudnshok writes "Hasbrouck Heights (NJ) Library Director Michele Reutty is under fire for refusing to give police library circulation records without a subpoena. Her lawyer explained, 'Reutty did the right thing... At no time did Michele Reutty say to any police officer or anybody else that she would not give the information if it was properly requested.' However, borough labor lawyer Ellen Horn, who also represented the library trustees, said Reutty was 'more interested in protecting' her library than helping the police. 'It was an absolute misjudgment of the seriousness of the matter,' Horn said."
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Library Chief Criticized for Requiring Subpoena

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  • Protecting privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tekspot (531917) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:32PM (#15585988)
    protecting privacy is not "cool" any more...

    sad day
    • by The Snowman (116231) * on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:35PM (#15586372) Homepage
      protecting privacy is not "cool" any more...

      I like the line "...said Reutty was 'more interested in protecting' her library than helping the police." What, am I supposed to disagree with this? Hell yeah I want her to protect the library and its patrons and only help police when necessary. If it takes a subpeona, so be it. If she can help the police without compromising customers' privacy, that's cool too.

      I was talking today about the recent theft of veterans' data and the recent trend of theft of personal data in general. Yes, I am one of those unlucky veterans. Sigh. Anyway, this really is not a privacy issue so much as a Congress issue. Until they force banks, phone companies, etc. to protect our privacy through common sense legislation, we will have personal records stolen with little to no accountability and police demanding our personal records from libraries and elsewhere (or the NSA demanding our records from AT&T). The worst part is, nobody seems to care. It is a non-issue in the news. It happens, but never ignites the flame of public debate and outcry. We care more about Jolie's new baby than our phone records. Sad.

      • by Dorceon (928997) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:37PM (#15586685)
        Obviously it was the police department 's misjudgement of the serious of the matter. Otherwise they would either have got a subpoena (if it was actually important) or not bothered (if it wasn't).
        • by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:11PM (#15587082)
          Obviously it was the police department 's misjudgement of the serious of the matter. Otherwise they would either have got a subpoena (if it was actually important) or not bothered (if it wasn't).

          They DID get a subpoena -- they're just bitching that the librarian actually made them do that. It took a couple of hours; and it was all in aid of IDing a guy who made sexual remarks to a girl outside the library -- something that should be followed up, but not obviously worth throwing away the rule book for to get him faster.

          • by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:11AM (#15588198) Journal
            It's not even obvious it should be followed up. There is no "right not to be offended".
          • by chickenandporn (848524) on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:00AM (#15588425) Homepage

            Requiring a subpoena -- requiring that the full procedure be followed -- ensures that this procedure will only be done when it's truly necessary. If it's too easy, it becomes just like "rounding up the usual suspects" as a means of investigation.

            "We have a peeping tom, so be sure to check for him at the library, hockey rink, baseball park, grab his vehicle tags, cross-reference his EZ-Pass (transponder-based toll device) find out the times he passes on/off the GSP, see if he has too many or too few assets and salary, credit report, job hours (and when he reports late), check airline tickets, and see if his family were members of the Communist Party..."

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:40PM (#15586697)
        "I like the line "...said Reutty was 'more interested in protecting her library than helping the police."

        Interesting how today's government officials habitually speak in the 'ad hominem tense' of anyone who opposes them, isn't it? In a world in which uni-brows don't make police chief that would have read "more interested in protecting her library patrons' rights than helping police efficiency."

        • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday June 23, 2006 @11:31AM (#15589759) Journal
          This sgtory has been spun in such a way as to ignore the central issue. She was protecting her library patrons rights and helping the police. What kind of case would they have if they didn't follow procedure? The creep might have gotten off scott-free. The police and the library might have been sued. So she added a few extra hours to the investigation. She should get a fucking medal, for doing her job, and also for doing the police's job.

          The conspiracy nut in me wants to think this is all calculated to make people forget that police actually need a subpeona.
      • by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:48PM (#15586732) Homepage Journal
        I would damn well hope she's more interested in protecting her library... she's a *Library Director*.

        If she were a *Detective*, maybe I'd expect her to be more interested in helping the police.

        Well, since congress has been co-opted into being acting agents of the MPAA, it should be no surprise that some enforcement folks expect to be able to commandeer the investigative efforts of any & all public personnel, on a whim.

        I'm glad this lady got it right.
        • by indifferent children (842621) on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:36AM (#15588505)
          If she were a *Detective*, maybe I'd expect her to be more interested in helping the police.

          I understand what you're saying, but is it too much to ask that our police be interested in protecting our rights? Our system isn't supposed to be adversarial to the point where the police and prosecutors are allowed to get as bent and dirty as the defense team.

      • by lonecrow (931585) on Friday June 23, 2006 @01:11AM (#15587527)
        "...It is a non-issue in the news..."

        I thought you yanks got rid of all your news shows and replaced them with infotainment years ago. Wasn't it in the eighties during Reagan's time that a bill was passed that removed the requirment for NEWS programs to offer balanced reports and present opposing views. Once that pesky requirement was out of the way your News shows were alot more entertaining and a whole lot less informative.

        Up here in Soviet Canuckistan our state run news on CBC seems allot more balanced then the slhock coming from your Theo-Coporatocracy.

        I suppose there are a few outfits down there trying to deconstruct the propaganda http://www.fair.org/ [fair.org] for example.

      • by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Friday June 23, 2006 @02:40AM (#15587795) Homepage Journal
        These rules about requiring subpoenas are a result of data theft in earlier times. It is supposed to prevent a police officer from abusing his position to collect sensitive information. All too often it's forgotten that there have been cops who will dig up dirt to be used for personal gain. Who's to say the cop wasn't trying to intimidate his sister's boyfriend? The subpoena says it.

        That's the real stupidity here: the system worked like it was supposed to, but because the cops were too careless to ensure they had a proper subpoena beforehand, they are trying to shift the blame to the library director. She on the other hand was ensuring that neither the library nor the police would be open to a technicality.

        That's the real irony: she helped the cops cover their asses, and they're pissed because she knew their resposibilities better than they did.
    • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:40PM (#15586397)
      protecting privacy is not "cool" any more...
      And neither is due process it appears. How long will it be before we bring Saddam's methods of running prisons home after giving them a try in Iraq and Cuba? People already disappear without charge or trial - and we need to get back to due process again before things go too far and the suspects start turning up dead.
      • by guruevi (827432) <evi@smoking c u be.be> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @10:22PM (#15586863) Homepage
        If you didn't know, a lot of those people are already dead. Look what happened in Gitmo a few weeks ago: they started commiting suicide and more will follow. What would you do if you were sitting there for 3-5 years and no hope of ever getting out or even getting a trial.
        • Success vs. Start (Score:4, Informative)

          by pingveno (708857) on Friday June 23, 2006 @02:22AM (#15587741)
          The only difference between the suicides a few weeks ago that was different from before was that more recent suicides succeeded. There were several dozen suicide attempts before. These particular suicides weren't a start, they were a culmination.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:40PM (#15586695)
      That's what happens in a police state. You Americans are in a very bad way and unfortunately the majority of citizens in your country are too self-absorbed to see past their own noses and that is why the politicians/big business are getting away with the hijacking of your country.

      Wise up and take it back before its too late.
      • by Gryle (933382) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @10:59PM (#15587034)
        With due respect, I don't think this is just an American problem, I think it's a global issue. Goverments, especially first world governments, seem to be tightening the grip on their citizens. America's issue is that it still claims to be a beacon of freedom and civil rights for the world, while the Constitution is being slowly eroded. The contrast is starker because of America's claims about herself.
  • Oh the Pain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schneidafunk (795759) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:33PM (#15585995)
    FTA: the mayor called it "a blatant disregard for the Police Department"

    When the police are breaking the laws (or sneaking around them) who do we ask to protect us?
    • Re:Oh the Pain (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:45PM (#15586079) Homepage Journal
      I don't ask anyone to protect me. It's not the job of the police to "protect and serve" no matter what their slogan says. It's the job of the police to investigate crime and arrest suspects so that the courts can accurately determine their guilt or innocence.
      • Re:Oh the Pain (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Saedrael (880381) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:09PM (#15586237)
        What, exactly, is your point? The police are supposed to be protecting you by investigating crime and arresting suspects. Laws don;t exist in a vacuum; they are designed (or they should be) to protect you.
        • Re:Oh the Pain (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gogoGodzilla (984399) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:46PM (#15586437)
          Yeah they are supposed to be doing a lot of things however they have a habit of bungling investigations. Now by this librarian doing his job he in effect forced the police to do their job and now maybe the evidence, if any, will hold up in court thereby making him a hero...not a terrorist.
        • Re:Oh the Pain (Score:5, Informative)

          by Trailer Trash (60756) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:47PM (#15586724) Homepage
          Laws don;t exist in a vacuum; they are designed (or they should be) to protect you.

          That's right, but they do so passively, not actively. In other words, I am protected every time a criminal is removed from the general population and locked up. On the other hand, if someone breaks into my house while I'm home, I have to protect myself. SCOTUS has ruled twice recently that the police have no legal obligation to protect you. There is no law that says I have to be protected from criminals by the government.

          • Re:Oh the Pain (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Irish_Samurai (224931) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @10:46PM (#15586969)
            This is absolutely correct.

            To assume that some government entity can protect you at all times from any variation of opposition is ignorant. A free society is one where the people are empowered to enforce their perspective without marginalizing anothers right to the same.

            This concept requires (or assumes) that any person willing to exercise this right will stand up in court to defend their actions, and accept the consequences, resulting from it.

            Unfortunately we (Americans) have become a nation of cowards and sycophants. We do not recognize our responsibilities to this concept, nor do we behave in a manner that exemplifies it.

            You must be prepared to do what you think is right, and to suffer the consequences of those actions as dictated to you by the society at large. If you curb your behavior to conform with that of the perceived majority, you will never realize how much power you really have.

            Quite often, doing the right thing equates to being analyzed by police forces, imprisonment by "peace keeping" forces, and ostrization by the socially accepted.

            The choice is yours. Exhibit behaviors congruent with your beleifs, or be subdued in order to continue acting "freely."
        • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday June 23, 2006 @03:34AM (#15587940) Homepage Journal
          It is not the job of the police to prevent crime. That is no-one's job because as soon as you start entolling the importance of preventing crime (and we have, terrorism == crime) you are creating a power against freedom that is uncheckable. Everyone has the right to commit crime. No society can be free without that right. If you are caught committing crime you will be judged and you will lose your freedom - all your freedom - but that is after the fact; it doesn't deminish your freedom. All freedom has consequences. I have the right to free speech. I can say whatever I like to whoever I like - no-one will try to stop me, and if they do I am free to ignore them - but that does not mean that my speech will not have consequences. If I tell my boss he is an idiot he might fire me, or give me really shit work to do, or (more likely) steam off in a hissy fit and make me feel bad. If I tell people to go out and kill others I may be arrested and lose my freedom.

          The police are not the Access Control Lists of society. They're not there to prevent you from doing things. They're there to aid in repremanding or removing you from society if you fail to abide by its laws. The fact that this results in some sense of the word "protection" is just an unfortunate coincidence. I say unfortunate because people have come to believe that this is what the police are for; to ensure no harm ever comes to them. The result is this learned helplessness that has led us down this garden path of voting people into power who promise to "smoke out the terrorists". They're openingly promising to pass laws that deminish our freedom and people are eating it up. It sickens me.
    • Propaganda in the UK (Score:5, Interesting)

      by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:07PM (#15586221) Journal
      I was horrified by a drama that BBC America has shown in the USA, I assume it was previously broadcast in the UK. I am referring to Murder Prevention Unit [bbcamerica.com].

      In this drama, the police use illegal means to trap potential criminals.

      None of the police are ever criticised or punished in any meaningful way for breaking the rules. The drama shows the rights of innocent people being routinely and egreiously trampled upon.

      I see it as the BBC portraying what some people in government would like. No restraint on the police, no rules of evidence, no need, in fact for actual evidence -- just lock up (or better still, shoot) the people you think are the "bad guys". How many people will watch the drama and later think it is OK for the police to take such actions becasue "they have seen it on TV"?

    • Re:Oh the Pain (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Almost-Retired (637760) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:15PM (#15586271)
      Then its time for the 4th of those famous boxes to be used. I'm sure you are all familiar with that saying re the 4 boxes to protect and defend liberty? Soap, ballot, jury, and ammo.

      --
      Cheers, Gene
    • by wordsofwisedumb (957054) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:10PM (#15586556)
      When the police are breaking the laws (or sneaking around them) who do we ask to protect us?

      Librarians.

    • Re:Oh the Pain (Score:4, Insightful)

      by menace3society (768451) on Friday June 23, 2006 @12:06AM (#15587275)
      He was talking about something else entirely, but certain of Juvenal's remarks are apropos to all free societies: "Qui custodiet ipsos custodes?" Who will guard against the guardians, indeed.
  • Key quote from TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:33PM (#15585996)
    "I followed the law. And because I followed the law, at the end of the day, the policemen's case is going to hold strong. Nobody is going to sue the library and nobody is going to sue the municipality of Hasbrouck Heights because information was given out illegally."

    That's actually the best argument she can make. Any case prosecutors will have against this man will be much stronger because the library complied with the applicable law(s) when responding to a police request. What if that evidence had been thrown out because it was illegally, or at least questionably, obtained?
    • by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:19PM (#15586302) Journal
      I'm not sure it actually is the best argument she could make, because it almost lends weight to the retards like b0nj0m0n (see his -1 Troll post below) who say that the law should be changed to allow police to do this. IMO, the best argument she could've made was "If the police had just cause for this information, they could have gotten a warrant for it. They did not have a warrant, so I was inclined to believe that they did not have just cause, at least not yet. In this country we have a long-standing precident that people are innocent until proven guilty and a long-standing precident of seperation of powers, including judicial oversight of law enforcement. Anyone who believes that I should have violated my patron's civil rights just because the police said I should needs to either grow some fucking balls and realize this is America, where freedom comes above absolute safety, or move to a "safer" totalitarian country like China, where I hear their police have all kinds of powers that ours lack."

      It never ceases to amaze me that the most diehard, ardent flag-wavers are usually the least American people of all... those who use the word "freedom" the most frequently seem to have no fucking clue what it actually means.
      • by Synesthesiatic (679680) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:20PM (#15586601) Homepage
        I've always thought that under the right circumstances the average American would put up with all his/her liberties being taken away, save one: the right to consume.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:01PM (#15586517) Journal
      What if that evidence had been thrown out because it was illegally, or at least questionably, obtained?
      One of the basic things you'll learn in any course about criminal law is based on writings by a guy named Herbert Packer.

      Basically, there are two ways to deal with crime:
      the "due process" model and
      the "crime control" model

      The due process model revolves around protecting the rights of the accused by presenting formidable impediments to carrying them past each step in the legal process.

      The crime control model desires to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens by stressing efficient apprehension and punishment of criminals.

      Judges and criminal defense attorneys are all about due process
      Criminal prosecutors deal with due process so they can convict
      Most Policemen jump for joy at the idea of the crime control model

      So, to bring everything back to what you said: The Police don't care about questionable origins of evidence. It burns them everytime evidence gets thrown out on 'technicalities'. They do not like things that impede their ability to arrest 'bad guys'.

      Many rational people agree with that point of view, because they see see criminals as enemies, not members, of their community. Anything that prevents the community from defending itself is disabling.

      This Librarian is is experiencing, first hand, how crime control people feel about impediments to capturing criminals.
      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @10:25PM (#15586882)
        As noted by a previous poster, you do not know whether someone is a "criminal" until after the investigation.

        Those who advocate more authority for the police are actually advocating a "police state" as opposed to a "Free nation".

        Many rational people agree with that point of view, because they see see criminals as enemies, not members, of their community. Anything that prevents the community from defending itself is disabling.

        Yes, there is nothing irrational about the desire for a police state. Nor is there anything irrational about the desire to live in a Free society. This is not about rational/irrational.

        Fascism starts when the efficiency of the government becomes more important than the rights of the people.
      • by gilroy (155262) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:41PM (#15587191) Homepage Journal
        Blockquoth the poster:

        It burns them everytime evidence gets thrown out on 'technicalities'.

        You'd think that. But in fact some of the strongest supporters of suspect rights (like reading the Miranda rights, etc.) are law enforcement associations. Why? Because (a) they actually believe in all that crazy land-of-the-free stuff and (b) they know that having (and following!) constraints on the police power helps keep them from being seen as -- and from becoming -- the Bad Guys. The positive impacts of being respected by the community, rather than feared by it, far outweigh the occasional slip in the system. Anyone who looks knows that effective policing requires community support.

        There was a case in the early 1990s when the Supreme Court appeared to weaken Miranda rights (shamefully, I can't recall the case or a cite for it). Some of the most outspoken criticism came from a national association of sheriffs.

        It's not about "letting criminals go". It's about having a fair and legitimate system for ascertaining who is a criminal, and it's about constraining the police power to prevent the abuse of actually innocent citizens. Or to put it more briefly, it's about that whole "innocent until proven guilty" jazz, plus that "due process of law" business.

        In other words, it's basically about the meaning of America.

  • Grandma was right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marko DeBeeste (761376) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:36PM (#15586016)
    Teachers and librarians are the real heroes. They change the world without ever kicking down a door.
  • by jd (1658) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [kapimi]> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:38PM (#15586025) Homepage Journal
    And journalists rarely let facts get in the way of a good story. So, I would caution people to not assume everything printed is correct. Nonetheless, to whatever degree it is true that a librarian was asked to break the law by the police, the librarian was in the right to refuse. She is likely to be punished, possibly severely, regardless. I doubt the city or the police will forget in a hurry, no matter who was in the right, and that should be the real point of concern. When revenge becomes more important than upholding the law, there is no law. It is a troubling cultural divide by zero error.
    • by ClamIAm (926466) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:59PM (#15586177)

      I doubt the city or the police will forget in a hurry, no matter who was in the right, and that should be the real point of concern.

      Any person who wants to raise a concern or stand up for what they believe in is a "troublemaker", and will be dealt with accordingly. It doesn't matter what it is, the fact remains that they oppose someone in power, and will be harassed unless there is massive public outcry (or lawsuits that prevent further harassment).

      Also, this isn't limited to police. Any organization, church or business will have a certain code that, when broken, results in labeling the perpetrator a "heretic" or somesuch.

      Also also, I'm not being Orwellian here. This is the way things have always been.

    • The journalists you're insulting are the only reason you even know about this. And despite what you seem to believe, committing large errors of fact regarding the police to the paper are a quick way to get your ass fired. Police departments are extremely sensitive to bad publicity, and newspapers are extremely sensitive to reporters who "don't let the facts get in the way of the story".

      The odds of said librarian getting "severely punished" drop through the floor when this sort of story gets good media exposure, again thanks to the newspaper who broke the story.

      Unless you're a tv talking head, or a fact-free syndicated columnist, being a journalist is a crap job. You get to spend all day trying to get info from people who only want to talk to you when it furthers their agenda, and you do it for little money, and no respect.
  • Duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by keyne9 (567528) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:41PM (#15586048)
    'more interested in protecting' her library than helping the police.

    You don't say? That's precisely why that rule exists in the first place! Fucking morons.
  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:42PM (#15586054)
    From TFA:
    Borough labor lawyer Ellen Horn, who also represented the library trustees, said Reutty was "more interested in protecting" her library than helping the police.

    "It was an absolute misjudgment of the seriousness of the matter," Horn said at Tuesday's meeting.


    What utter bullshit. She doesn't work for the police, and it is her job and her legal mandate to protect the privacy of people who check out books from her library.

    These "borough officials" are nothing but a bunch of grandstanding politician assholes trying to make their careers by harassing a librarian who was doing her job the way it should be done. They should all be voted out of office.
  • by mattkime (8466) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:42PM (#15586055)
    A quick googling reveals that you can send your thanks and support to reutty@BCCLS.ORG [mailto].

    I already have.

    (Does anyone else just love that some cases are too important for proper legal procedure? They should have gotten warrants in the first place...)
    • by KefabiMe (730997) <garth@jhonor.STRAWcom minus berry> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:38PM (#15586388) Journal
      Send some encouraging words! This is what I just sent.

      Hello Michele,

      I just read about your recent episode with law enforcement. I do not normally email strangers, but I wanted to thank you for requesting a subpoena before handing private data to law enforcement.

      It saddens me to think that much of this country just reacts to fear and emotional pleas. Though I am an engineer at heart, I am very grateful to the librarians, history teachers, and government teachers in this country who do what they can to help us remember the past. Thank you for reminding folks through your actions that we have laws, regulations, and the Constitution for a reason.

      The news report I read stated that your punishment may be as harsh as a 30-day unpaid suspension. I hope that you are instead praised by your community. I would prefer to see citizens like you serve in government rather than the mayor who called your actions "a blatant disregard for the Police Department."

      I realize you have many emails to read as hundreds of thousands of people, if not a million, have heard of your actions by now. Hopefully you have a lot of encouraging words to read. I don't care what anyone says; you are not helping the terrorists. ;')

      I first read about you on these two web sites.
      http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/22/22 51209 [slashdot.org]
      http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3Z jczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk2MDYmZmdiZWw3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTY5NTE 1NjImeXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXkz [northjersey.com]

      Good luck,
      Josh Smith

    • by LrdHghFxr (30763) on Friday June 23, 2006 @12:42AM (#15587390)
      So does anyone know where to send e-mail (perhaps the state bar association) pointing out that Ms. Horn, a lawyer, is critizing the fact that the law was followed and perhaps Ms. Horn needs a refresher on the basics?
  • by verisof (970392) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:45PM (#15586082)
    In September, I ran the datacenter in the Houston Astrodome during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The organization I was working for (a large international organization that provides relief in disasters, hint hint) keeps data on the people who seek help private. In fact, that's their mantra. I received visits from no less than FOUR Department of Homeland Security deputies who wanted to get their hands on the refugee data, purportedly to track sexual predators. Some of these requests were polite and some were not. I've encountered similar requests within the last year for data in my corporate job as well.

    It's my observation that these people will ALWAYS appeal to our base fear when they encounter barriers to getting the data they want, knowing that no one wants to aid and abet "Sexual Predators" or "Terrorists". That's why the due process laws, calling for subpoenas are in place here in the US (but for how long?) I can only hope that we can come to our senses and end this gross abuse of power. . . . Has anyone else had similar experiences? How come we never really hear much about it?
    • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:15PM (#15586273)
      How come we never really hear much about it?

      Um, are you shitting me? Like, are you really serious?

      We hear about this ALL THE FUCKING TIME, especially on the internet (e.g., blogs).

      Constantly.

      More than we ever have before, and more every day. And it's not because there are "more abuses"; there's more people hunting for and collecting evidence about said abuses. Some of these people do it out of genuine concern. Most of these people do it because their political leanings are crystal clear.

      And you know what? There aren't really any more or less "abuses" than there ever have been; there are just much easier ways to spread the word. That's what makes people believe we're heading down the primrose path to a fascist state and all this other crap.

      Technology cuts both ways: it makes it easier for the government to abuse rights and freedoms, and it makes it easier for everyone else to find out and call them on it.
  • by jmv (93421) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:46PM (#15586087) Homepage
    Reutty was 'more interested in protecting' her library [and its users] than helping the police

    I think I'd actually be proud if someone said something like that about me.
  • It's ironic... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdot@gmai l . c om> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @07:55PM (#15586143) Homepage Journal
    that the ones supposed to UPHOLD the Law are the first ones wanting to BREAK the Law.

    Second - the Library director did the right thing. Why? Because if the information she gave was obtained without "due process", the pedophile could get free because of this. Now who would be the one to blame? The Library. Wonderful.

    I'd pretty much tell the stupid police to just do their job and STFU.
    • Re:It's ironic... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:16PM (#15586276)
      I'd pretty much tell the stupid police to just do their job and STFU.

      That's pretty much what she did, and apparently it pissed some of them off. Although, interestingly the police aren't the ones that are threatening her ... the Library's own Board of Directors (for some unaccountable reason) are not only not supporting her but are in the process of determining what punishment should be given to this woman for doing her job properly. That kind of in-your-face irrationality smacks of hidden politics: there's more to this story. Somebody has it in for Ms. Reutty, found an excuse to go after her, and is making the most of it. Either that, or she's simply being used as an example to show what happens to people that dare to tell the police to back off. I hope that the people of that fine city understand what's at stake here. Probably they don't.

      What I find interesting is that the police were willing to deliberately obtain potentially tainted evidence. Maybe they didn't care: maybe they already had enough on the guy and simply wanted the Library's records to confirm what they already knew. But that's irrelevant: they wanted convenient access to confidential information without going through the proper channels. Frankly, it's not her job to make things easy for the cops: it is her job to, well, do her job.
  • My hero (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peacefinder (469349) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ttiwed.nala'> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:04PM (#15586206) Journal
    Far from being an "... absolute misjudgment of the seriousness of the matter", this librarian correctly realized that it was a serious matter which she was not qualified or empowered to judge. She deferred to the courts, which are only appropriate and authorized arbiter of police search powers.

    Bravo, Ms. Reutty!
  • by dreemernj (859414) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:10PM (#15586242) Homepage Journal
    If she hadn't forced them to follow the letter of the law, whoever this person was that broke the law initially could have turned around and used the illegal obtaining of his records in court to get the case thrown out.

    That exact scenario has happened before, where these small-town cops get worked up, don't follow the rules, and it ends up hurting what could have been a simple, open-shut case if they had just had patience. I really wish I could post a link to the details (I've spent a lot of time in Jersey Boroughs) but usually there is little to no public record, things get lost, or safety nets are put in place.

    Its really really sad actually.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:21PM (#15586310)
    Let's tell these sociopathic assholes what we think of their attempts to trample on our rights.

    HASBROUCK HEIGHTS NJ - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasbrouck_Heights,_Ne w_Jersey [wikipedia.org]
    General Info - http://www.hasbrouck-heights.nj.us/general/towninf o.html [hasbrouck-heights.nj.us]

    Mayor Ronald R. Jones
    Borough of Hasbrouck Heights
    320 Boulevard
    Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604 USA
    Phone: (201)-288-4111

    Police Chief Michael Colaneri
    Hasbrouck Heights (Bergen County)
    248 Hamilton Avenue
    Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604-1811
    Phone: (201) 288-1000
    Fax: (201) 288-1691

    Bergen County Prosecutor's Office
    10 Main Street
    Hackensack, NJ 07601
    Mon-Fri (201) 646-2300
    After Hours (201) 646-2700

    Also let's show Ms. Reutty our support!

    Michele Reutty, Director
    Free Public Library of Hasbrouck Heights
    320 Boulevard, Hasbrouck Heights NJ 07604
    E-mail: reutty@bccls.org
    TEL: 201-288-0488
    FAX: 201-288-6653

    i am going to give her a call when i get done w/ work.

    i gaurantee if the people involved get just a few dozen calls or emails it will make them think twice. please take a moment to show your anger and/or support.
  • by RyoShin (610051) <.tukaro. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:24PM (#15586322) Homepage Journal
    However, borough labor lawyer Ellen Horn, who also represented the library trustees, said Reutty was 'more interested in protecting' her library than helping the police. 'It was an absolute misjudgment of the seriousness of the matter,' Horn said."
    If it was so serious, then why couldn't the police go through the steps to get the supeona?

    If it's that serious, you want a trail of evidence and iron-clad law-abiding police searches and questioning to bring you through prosecution. The fact that the police failed to get a subpeona for a situation where one would likely be needed (they wouldn't have to use it right away, only if the librarian put up a fight).

    I applaud this librarian for forcing the police to do their job. Why, if everyone did this, we might actually have a trust-worthy government! Oh, the horror!

    Members of the Borough Council have suggested she receive punishment ranging from a letter of reprimand in her personnel file to a 30-day unpaid suspension. But the Library Board of Trustees said it would reserve judgment until a closed-door hearing next month.
    The article mentions that reps from a library association went to a meeting to show support for Reutty, but I think it might help if concerned citizens from around the country let their voice be heard.

    Hasbrouck Heights Library website [bccls.org]

    Here is a list of staff, with the board of trustees at the bottom. [bccls.org] I can't find individual contact lists for them, but sending snail mail to the library and putting their name would probably work.
  • the same old excuse (Score:4, Informative)

    by v1 (525388) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:24PM (#15586323) Homepage Journal
    It seems that most any time privacy issues are called into question, one group always retreats to the "how dare you interfere" concept. They consider the rules irrlelvent because "the good guys would never abuse their power". If it were up to them it would be a police state, where the police did not have to follow the same laws the rest of us do. But they forget, this is the exact reason we have those laws, to protect the people from abuse by the government. In a perfect world where the government was just and wise, those such laws would not be necessary. But the government is oftentimes neither just nor wise, and in that case I prefer to have the law on my side to protect me from the abuse.

    Stripping the people of the protection from persicution to make the job of law enforcement simpler is proteting people's fredom and rights by taking them away.
  • by harshmanrob (955287) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:28PM (#15586336) Journal
    If ANY law enforcement agency shows up and asks for anything, they had better have a warrant from a court in hand. These National Security Letters are bullshit and I wipe my ass with it after I scan and post it right here on slashdot.org, infowars.com, rense.com or whomever else would take it. Here that facist aggressor of the state. Fuck you. Yes this will drop the karma points, but I am damn tired of seeing facist police scum jackboots trying to set up a police state using secrecy and fear. I ain't scared of you people.
  • by Physics Dude (549061) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:28PM (#15586339) Homepage
    " 'It was an absolute misjudgment of the seriousness of the matter,' Horn said."


    Apparently the police didn't think it was even serious enough to bother getting a subpoena.

  • I don't get it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by layer3switch (783864) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:43PM (#15586417)
    "Reutty was 'more interested in protecting' her library than helping the police."

    errr... call me stupid, but isn't that what her job supposed to be, protecting the library? I just don't get it... If she wanted to help the police, she'd be a neighborhood watch woman.
  • Sad fact but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caine (784) * on Thursday June 22, 2006 @08:47PM (#15586445)
    Citizens of the United States of America, you do realize you live in a fascist state, don't you?
    • Re:Sad fact but... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Xiroth (917768) on Friday June 23, 2006 @12:44AM (#15587399)
      Bleck. The problem I've run into when trying to point this out has always been that when people hear the word fascism, they expect the specifics of the two most well-known fascist nations in history. They say "We don't have secret police or a dictator" (although perhaps both those claims are disputable). Well, yeah, but that's not what fascism is. Fascism is exactly how the US currently works: An authoritarian, extreme right-wing (by most nations' standards) nation which has a significant proportion of its economy dominated by the military.

      Perhaps we need a new word to describe this type of state because of the loaded content behind the old one, in the hopes that people will begin to understand where they stand.

  • by patio11 (857072) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:09PM (#15586551)
    Library records which contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of libraries are confidential and shall not be disclosed except in the following circumstances:

          a. The records are necessary for the proper operation of the library;

          b. Disclosure is requested by the user; or

          c. Disclosure is required pursuant to a subpena [sic -- probably transcription error in the database] issued by a court or court order.

          L. 1985, c. 172, s. 2, eff. May 31, 1985.
  • TO Ellen Horn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by baomike (143457) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:18PM (#15586595)
    Following the law is not a "misjudgement".
  • by zoomshorts (137587) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:20PM (#15586603)
    From the article, "But borough officials say Reutty intentionally stonewalled the police investigation by putting the library first.".

    The subpeona has to be specific about what is to be seized. The librarian did what was proper.

    The instrument was not license for a 'fishing expedition'. When the police returned with a more
    specific instrument, she complied with the instrument.

    This is how our system is supposed to work. The police were negligent OR STUPID. They ask
    for subpoena's ALL the time. They should know that they need to be specific. Can you say "Keystone Cops employ Barney Fife"? Sure you can.

    As stated previously, the city idiots are politicians, with NO CLUE. They were, after all, voted into office.

    The inclusion of the city or Libraries lawyer, would most likely have not lead to ANY more protection to the
    citizen's rights. Sadly, these same people have been around for many years, and have had the opportunity to
    read newspapers that have published cases like this before. They did not read them or convienently forgot the precedents already in the law.

    Pity.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:44PM (#15586707)
    In this case the proper quote would be:

    "Those who would give up essential libraries to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither libraries nor safety."
  • by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @09:57PM (#15586770) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    Library Director Michele Reutty is under fire for refusing to give police library circulation records without a subpoena. ... Reutty, the director for 17 years, now faces possible discipline by the library board. Members of the Borough Council have suggested she receive punishment ranging from a letter of reprimand in her personnel file to a 30-day unpaid suspension.

    You can't be serious!

    What if I said:

    "Michele Reutty didn't send me a Christmas card last year. This made me very sad and I got angry at some children. This was a blatant disregard for my feelings and resulted in harm to children. I suggest we put a letter of reprimand in her file or suspend her for 30 days."

    You'd think I was nuts, right? Why? Well, she is under no obligation whatsoever to send a Christmas card to me. Now, here she is, having been pressured to do something she was under no obligation to do... and frankly, likely in breach of privacy laws as well. She said no. Good on her!

    If people want a law that forces anyone to obey arbitrary instructions of police officers (hint: this might be a baaaad thing), then petition to pass one. Until then, she not only did nothing wrong, but she did the right thing. If the police need the information for an investigation, they should get a warrant. Until then, she's done the right thing. Shame on the council members who have suggested disciplinary action.
  • by S.P.B.Wylie (983357) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:37PM (#15587181)
    I'm all for protecting out citizens from crime, but the fact of the matter is that a unchecked government is way more of a threat to society then any one person. Even 9/11 killed only a few thousand, when corrupt governments can kill and oppress millions. Libraries are especially protected, because they exist for free information. If a person is worried about the government looking at what they read, they will be influenced in their choices, and therefore the information is no longer free. This limits the freedom of speech, and that is the first step to a totalitarian government. We believe in freedom over safety because while it is easy for us to sacrifice rights for safety, history has shown that blood must often be shed to gain them back.
  • Ask for a warrant... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Medieval_Thinker (592748) on Friday June 23, 2006 @12:37AM (#15587372)
    On my way home from a motorcycle trip once I was stopped in Columbia, MO. The policeman had me demonstrate that all my lights worked and then told me he was going to have to search my bags. Now I had been on the road for a week, and had some funky clothes and little else in the bags. There was for sure nothing the policeman would have cared about, but I did not feel like having him dig through my dirty underwear.

    I told him that he did not have my permission to search the bags, and I asked if I was being charged with anything. He told me he could have a search warrant in no time. He had been fishing with the judge just that morning.

    I encouraged him to get a warrant if he wanted to search the bags.

    He said it could also take a while to process the warrant, and he would have to take me to the jail to wait. I told him I was a teacher and was on summer break. A wait would just make for a better story when I got home.

    I asked if I was being charged with anything.

    We danced around this issue for a while. I was polite but firm. He kept telling me he was going to have to search the bags.

    He never did search the bags or write me a ticket or tell me why he stopped me.

    It still pisses me off.

    I think the librarian should have asked for a subpoena. There are fundamental issues here, and while I don't think anyone should obstruct justice, I also don't think policemen should be able to waltz into a library and ask for circulation records. It is not that you have anything to hide, but sometimes you don't feel like having someone digging through your personal stuff.
  • by tahii (758556) on Friday June 23, 2006 @03:05AM (#15587864) Homepage Journal
    ...and there is no way in hell our library would give out ANY information about ANYONE to te police, or any justice official without a warrant first. We are not even allowed to say to a police officer if someone they are looking for is in, or has been in the library.

    In saying this, I am in New Zealand, where people actually care about privacy laws.

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