Long v. Texas

At the time of the offense, Wendee Long was the principal of Wayside Middle School and a member of the Argyle I.S.D. school board. Long’s daughter, C.L., attended Argyle High School and traveled to Sanger High School to attend a girls’ high-school basketball game. P.S. agreed to show C.L. where the visitor’s locker room was located. The girls’ basketball coach, Lelon “Skip” Townsend, described the locker room as a private area to get away from the people that are at the ball game and allow the coaches and teammates to meet and discuss aspects of the game or do team activities such as pray. On the way to the locker room, C.L. informed her friend that she was going to set up her phone in the locker room to record Coach Townsend’s halftime speech. None of the girls on the team were aware they were being recorded, and Coach Townsend did not give anyone permission to record his remarks to his team. A copy of the recording was emailed to all the members of the school board in advance of the school board taking up the issue of whether to award Coach Townsend a term contract. The superintendent for the school district eventually delivered a copy of the recording to the police. A detective with the Sanger Police Department got access to Long’s work computer and found both an edited version of the footage, plus a version showing C.L. returning to the locker room to retrieve the phone after the halftime speech. The footage of Long’s daughter was not included on the copy of the video that was distributed to the school board. According to Long, the recording was her daughter’s idea. Long related that her daughter had initially tried to get a recording of Coach Townsend during a game between Argyle and Gainesville because “someone has to let people see how he acts to them.” The State charged Long with the unlawful interception of oral communication, or electronic eavesdropping, alleging in two paragraphs that she had violated Section 16.02 of the Texas Penal Code. At trial and on appeal, Long argued that, as a matter of law, she had committed no crime because Townsend had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his locker-room speeches to his team. The court of appeals agreed. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, and affirmed Long's conviction for her role in the interception of the coach's communication with the team in the team's locker room. View "Long v. Texas" on Justia Law