A school principal was criminally charged with “interception of an oral communication.” The evidence introduced at trial showed that the principal persuaded her daughter, who was a student at the school, to record a coach without his knowledge while he was making a halftime speech to a team in the girls’ locker room. The principal then forwarded an edited version of the recording to the board of trustees in an effort to influence the board’s decision to renew the coach’s contract. The principal was convicted, and the case was eventually appealed to the court of criminal appeals.

The court of criminal appeals ruled that the conviction should be upheld. A person commits the crime of interception of an oral communication when they intentionally intercept a wire, oral or electronic communication and disclose it to another person without the consent of the parties to the communication. In order to be convicted of this crime, the person must be an unwanted third party to the conversation (i.e., not participating in the conversation) and the communication must take place at a time when the people who are communicating have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

In this case, the court found that the coach had a reasonable expectation of privacy when addressing team members in the girls' locker room. The locker room itself was not open to the general public, with access restricted to coaches and team members. It was designed with two sets of entry doors to provide a place for young girls to dress and keep personal items. The principal's daughter had to pretend to be a team manager to gain access to the locker room. She snuck into the locker room right before halftime and taped her cellphone to the inside of a locker to make a video and audio recording of the coach’s halftime speech. The coach believed the girls' locker room was private when he entered it and spoke to his team. Neither the coach nor the members of the basketball team gave consent to the recording. Shortly after halftime was over, the student retrieved the phone. She provided copies of the recording to her mother, who edited it and distributed the edited recording anonymously to the members of the school board.

The court found that, unlike a classroom (where a teacher has no reasonable expectation of privacy in a classroom), locker rooms generally give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy. The principal violated that privacy by causing a secret recording to be made of a conversation to which she was not a party. Under these facts, the conviction was upheld.