Atlanta, GA asked in Personal Injury, Civil Rights, Federal Crimes and Juvenile Law for Georgia

Q: Can a highschool coach record a conversation of a 15 year old player w out their knowledge?

Exit interview for making the team or being cut, no parent was present, it was in a closed office in which he spoke harshly in an aggressive tone and made her cry. She wasn’t cut made the team but found out 4 months later he had recorded her... not sure if he recorded all players for their exit interviews or just my daughter... there is history of bullying on this team and intimidation. I am not focused on that as much as a coach recording a 15 year old child in a private office w door closed and no parent present and no knowledge of the audio recording or if all parties were recorded that came in for exit interview or just mine

1 Lawyer Answer
Ken Shigley
Ken Shigley
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: OCGA § 16-11-62 (https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-16/chapter-11/article-3/part-1/16-11-62) provides:

It shall be unlawful for:

(1) Any person in a clandestine manner intentionally to overhear, transmit, or record or attempt to overhear, transmit, or record the private conversation of another which shall originate in any private place;

(2) Any person, through the use of any device, without the consent of all persons observed, to observe, photograph, or record the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view; provided, however, that it shall not be unlawful:

However, OCGA § 16-11-66 provides, "(a) Nothing in Code Section 16-11-62 shall prohibit a person from intercepting a wire, oral, or electronic communication where such person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception."

Therefore, in Georgia I may secretly record my conversation with you, though not the conversation between two other people who do not consent.

However, there are protections of minors with regard to telephone and other electronic communications. OCGA § 16-11-66 says:

(b) After obtaining the consent required by this subsection, the telephonic conversations or electronic communications to which a child under the age of 18 years is a party may be recorded and divulged, and such recording and dissemination may be done by a private citizen, law enforcement agency, or prosecutor's office. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require that the recording device be activated by the child. Consent for the recording or divulging of the conversations of a child under the age of 18 years conducted by telephone or electronic communication shall be given only by order of a judge of a superior court upon written application, as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, or by a parent or guardian of said child as provided in subsection (d) of this Code section. Said recording shall not be used in any prosecution of the child in any delinquency or criminal proceeding. An application to a judge of the superior court made pursuant to this Code section need not comply with the procedures set out in Code Section 16-11-64.

https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-16/chapter-11/article-3/part-1/16-11-66/

Since this conversation was recorded in person by a person who consented to being recorded, and did not involve a telephonic or other electronic communication, the law appears unclear. The school system's lawyers could argue that the recording was permitted under OCGA § 16-11-66(a).

Beyond that, what are the damages? That she cried? As a parent, I had a situation in which my daughter probably had a good lawsuit against an airline that had her arrested and thrown off a plane because, as a deaf passenger, she did not hear and comply with a flight attendant's directions. The analysis was not only legal. I did not want her to get distracted by litigation and celebrity within the deaf community, and neglect her studies. We worked it out quickly and quietly with the airline and got the arrest record promptly expunged. She was on the next plane back to college and did not miss a class.

Parental decisions involve a lot more considerations than potential liability of a coach.

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