No Jail for Crime Stoppers Tip Eater

Richard Masten as he eats a piece of paper in court

Richard Masten as he eats a piece of paper in court

Richard Masten was found in contempt of court for refusing to turn over information related to a tip called in to Miami Dade Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers guarantees anonymity to its tipsters, and Masten would not divulge the information and risk the credibility of Crime Stoppers: to the point that he was willing to go to jail. He found out today that he won’t have to go to jail: the judge ordered him to write a memo/report on the legalities of anonymous tips and court orders. Masten says he’ll do it again to protect the integrity of the program. If this tip gets turned over, every defense attorney will try to get the tip info, and Crime Stoppers would be worthless.

I’d like to see his report. I’m curious, as the judge mentioned public records. Now, anything Crime Stoppers emailed to a state agency would be come public record: but the forum for getting that would be through the public agency. For instance, if someone emails me a tip, and I pass part of that along to the police, only the part that I passed along is public record. That’s not to say I couldn’t be compelled to give up the rest of it, but as a private citizen, my records do no become public unless I send them in whole to a public entity. On the other hand, if I were a business that makes a practice of trying to collect anonymous information: I would probably not store records that could later be subpoenaed and destroy that anonymity. That’s why Crime Stoppers uses numbers in lieu of names. I hope they don’t hang on to more identifying info, for the sake of the tipsters.

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