Saturday, April 21, 2007

Alec Baldwin - poster child for parents taping telephone calls

Never swear at one of your children when you are in a custody battle. Never ever leave a recording of you swearing at your child. Especially not in these days of the Internet. However, that is exactly what Alec Baldwin did with his daughter, an eleven year old.

I picked the story up with today's Washington Post:

On April 11 from New York, Baldwin called his daughter in Los Angeles at an arranged time but found that her phone was turned off. He left a profanity-laced, 2-minute-12-second message, berating her for not answering the phone
I say being a celebrity only magnifies the problems created for a custody or visitation case. Again, from the Washington Post:
Aside from its titillation value, Baldwin's rant already has had legal consequences. As a result of the call being made public, a Los Angeles judge has temporarily suspended Baldwin's visitation rights at least until a previously scheduled May 4 custody hearing.
Expect the same results if you are John Q. Public. The court will be paying attention even if the wider public remains ignorant to of the transgression.

Indiana makes unauthorized interceptions of telephone calls a crime and/or a civil action (see IC 35-33.5-5-4). IC 35-33.5-1-5 defines interception as follows:
(1) recording of; or
(2) acquisition of the contents of;
a telephonic or telegraphic communication by a person other than a sender or receiver of that communication, without the consent of the sender or receiver, by means of any instrument, device, or equipment under this article. This term includes the intentional recording of communication through the use of a computer or a FAX (facsimile transmission) machine.
I say you leave a voice mail and you have consented to its being intercepted and the only question is if the receiver has also consented to the interception. Continuing with using the Baldwin case and the receiver being an eleven year old child, I think the custodial parent gets to decide on whether to consent. So just how often will the custodial parent not give consent so that the recording can be used in court?

Here is the best tip I can give family law clients: regardless of the aggravation, keep cool, be polite, and if you cannot use simple common sense then keep your mouth shut.

No comments: