Why V Stiviano isn’t going to jail for recording Sterling’s racist rant

The Precap:

  1. In California, it is a crime for any person to record a private conversation or telephone call without the consent of all parties to the conversation.
  2. However, Donald Sterling reportedly granted Stiviano permission to act as his “archivist” and regularly record their conversations.

So, the NBA playoffs are going on, the games thus far have been amazing, and the world is abuzz with news revolving around the NBA. The only problem: they aren’t talking about basketball.

Instead, attention has been focused on Donald Sterling–the owner of a Clippers team currently locked up in a dog fight with the Golden State Warriors–and the audio recording of blatantly racist statements (allegedly) uttered to his half-Mexican, half-black girlfriend, V. Stiviano, while furious because Stiviano brought a black person – i.e., former Laker and basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson – to a Clippers game. In this recording, which can be heard in its entirety at Deadspin , Sterling generally takes offense to Stiviano associating with any colored people in public and infamously declares that he does not want Stiviano bringing black people to his Clipper games.

Aside from being appalled by the hypocrisy laden within a racist tirade about publicly associating with colored people to your colored girlfriend, I couldn’t help but wonder: isn’t Ms. Stiviano going to face prison time for making these recordings?

In many states, making an audio or video recording of someone without their permission can land you in jail. And California is no exception as it makes it a crime for any person to record a private conversation or telephone call without the consent of all parties to the conversation.2

However, the model formerly known as Maria Perez  needn’t worry about cops showing up at her door any time soon because, in all states, it is not against the law to record a conversation when both parties agree to the recording and, according to TMZ, Stiiviano regularly recorded their conversations with Sterling’s permission:

A source connected with V. Stiviano tells TMZ Sports … the full conversation lasted approximately 1 hour. We’re told Stiviano insists it was clear to Sterling at the beginning of the conversation he was being recorded.

What’s more … our sources say Stiviano routinely recorded her conversations with Sterling as HIS “archivist.” And what’s more … she would regularly play the tapes back to him because he would often forget what he had said.

Our sources say sometime after the tape was recorded on April 9 … Stiviano and Sterling got in an argument because he wanted her to sign a confidentiality agreement … which she would not.

While I immediately question the intelligence of any man who would provide a lover the tools to always prove what he did or did not say, Sterling doing so without any known legally enforceable relationship relating to control of these tapes is about as well thought out as his getting into an argument with Stiviano for her failing to sign an agreement in which he had little leverage to negotiate.

Thus, depending on how seriously Ms. Stiviano took her role as an “archivist,” we could be tuning in to hours and hours of more recordings of Sterling depicting just how dead racism is in America.


  1. See Cal. Penal Code § 632.

  2. See Cal. Penal Code § 632.

AJ Afkari | techlawgic

A.J. Afkari is a Los Angeles attorney who specializes in legal matters related to the Internet, technology, and all things intertwined. He received his B.A. from UCLA, his J.D. from USC, and his A.J. from his mother.

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