MauiTime Publisher Thomas Russo Pleads Not Guilty In Operation Recon Filming Case

My apologies for not updating the case of MauiTime’s Publisher Thomas Russo–who was arrested on Nov. 20, 2012 while attempting to film two Maui Police Officers during Operation Recon–but nothing much has happened since then. On Thursday, Jan. 24, before Wailuku District Court Judge Kelsey Kawano, Russo pleaded Not Guilty to two charges: failing to obey a police officer and disorderly conduct (today’s Maui News brief on the arraignment said Russo “pleads innocent,” which is not technically correct).

For those following along at home, you’ll notice that these are different charges than those slapped on Russo at the time of his arrest, which were obstructing a government operation, harassment and resisting arrest. But regardless of their wording, the charges all dance around the same issue: Russo was filming police officers on a public highway when he was arrested–an act that has been deemed legal by the United States Supreme Court.

(Click here to watch the video Russo shot before and during his arrest.)

What’s more, Judge Kawano agreed to Russo’s request to film both his arraignment and future court appearances (click here and here for some footage of Russo in the hallway outside the court and during the hearing itself, respectively).

So for now, that’s pretty much that. Russo’s next scheduled court date, a pretrial conference, is Feb. 21 at 2pm.

Photo of Maui Police Officer Rusty Lawson: Thomas Russo