Ian Murphy prank call to Gov. Scott Walker didn't break law because Wis. is one-party state

Did Ian Murphy break the law with his prank call to Scott Walker?
Did Ian Murphy break the law with his prank call to Scott Walker?

Everyone is talking about the 20-minute phony phone call in which Scott Walker unwittingly reveals his master plan to a liberal newspaper editor posing as a conservative financier.

The Buffalo Beast, an alternative weekly, posted the audio of the call, which was recorded by the man who made it while impersonating David Koch. That man is Ian Murphy, and since Wisconsin is a one-party state, recording the call appears to be perfectly legal.

Here is Wisconsin law regarding taping phone calls, which might suggest Murphy could be in trouble:

Wisconsin is currently a one-party state though recent attempts in the legislature there have attempted, unsuccessfully so far, to change it to two-party. Even so, any evidence gathered by a one-party consensual recording is inadmissible except in murder or drug cases, as they say.

The Wisconsin Stats 885.365 Recorded telephone conversation (1) states "Evidence obtained as the result of the use of voice recording equipment for recording of telephone conversations, by way of interception of a communication or in any other number, shall be totally inadmissible in the court of this state in civil actions, except as provided by 968.28 to 968.37." Exceptions are if the party is informed at the time that the conversation is being recorded and that any evidence thereby obtained may be used in a court of law or such recording is made through a recorder connector proved by the telecommunications utility as defined in WI Stats 968.28 - 968.37 (which is the stat for court ordered wiretaps) which automatically produces a distinctive recorder tone that is repeated at intervals of approximately 15 seconds. Fire department or law enforcement agencies are exempt as are court ordered wire tapes.

Also a recording on the phone made from an out of state call or made to an out of state party, has to have the party informed of the recording and his consent or the tone on line, every 15 seconds, or a consent in writing before the recording is started.

Needless to say this does not allow a person not a party to the conversation to record any part of the conversation without the parties to the conversation being informed the third party is recording the conversation.

Emphasis added.

But that's for using recorded phone calls as evidence in criminal cases.

This would fall under the covert recording laws, and Wisconsin is a "one-party" state, according to this chart, which means only one of the two parties to the call has to agree to the recording. Since Murphy obviously agreed to it, he's in the clear!

The federal law makes it unlawful to record telephone conversations except in one party consent cases which permit one party consent recording by state law. What that means is a person can record their own telephone conversations without the knowledge or consent of the other party in those states that allow one party consent.

This conclusively proves that you can prank call anyone in Wisconsin with no legal repercussions.
This conclusively proves that you can prank call anyone in Wisconsin with no legal repercussions.


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