Yet Another Court Says Illinois 'Eavesdropping' Law That Criminalizes Recording Police Is Unconstitutional

from the free-speech dept

We've covered in great detail the ridiculous law in Illinois that makes it a crime to record police, even while they're on duty, without their knowledge. This seems crazy to us, and it appears the courts are agreeing. Last fall, we noted that a state court had ruled the law was unconstitutional, and now (as pointed out by reader John Katos) another local court has done the same.
Judge Stanley Sacks, who is assigned to the Criminal Courts Building, found the eavesdropping law unconstitutional because it potentially criminalizes “wholly innocent conduct.”
Last we'd heard, Illinois prosecutors were appealing the first ruling, and I imagine they won't be too happy about this ruling either. But, at some point, it seems they have to recognize the ridiculousness of making it a crime to record police on the job.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 5:56pm

    It's only a crime if you show them doing stuff that could be potentially dangerous to their image, like beating minorities, pepper spraying non-violent protesters, using a taser on a 13-year-old girl, and pulling guns on people who are on motorcycles and unarmed.

    If you record them while they're getting donuts or something, no one cares.

     

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      wizened (profile), Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 6:49pm

      Re:

      You don't know how right you are. I live in the NW burbs of Chicago and I've seen a lot of BS. You can't point a camera at a cop and not record something illegal INCLUDING getting donuts. I was there several years back when the police used the police helicopter to land in the parking lot of the Dunkin Donuts to pick up some tasty food to take along. I've been asked for money. I've been asked for sex and I was once stopped so that the cop could check out my new car. This is a fine state to live in and I fully understand why they don't want anyone pointing a camera at them.

       

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      Really? (profile), Mar 19th, 2012 @ 2:03pm

      Re: Illinois Eavsdropping law

      It really sucks that we have this law in Illinois. My boyfriend is in jail right now awaiting his next court date.
      He's being charged with Aggravated battery to a government official, meaning hes being accused of spitting on a cop.. Anyways i have it recorded on my cell that he is being accused of it, but it didnt happen, the recording clearly captures two cops speaking and my bf, the first cop says "wheres the spit?" the second cop says to my bf Lenard " You ALMOST hit me with your spit" then you hear my boyfriend say "IM SORRY". And theres nothing i can do.. If i play it for the judge i face up to 15 years in prison myself. Now i cant understand why its ok for an officer to record arrests on a dashboard cam without our concent and its ok, but god for bid we get a cop on tape LIEING! Illinois sucks i agree, if i had the means to get my family out of here i would.. But till then were stuck with my boyfriend going to jail being innocent. and not to mention he faces 6 years in prison for being innocent all thanks to a cop that really loves his job of slamming innocent people.

       

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    Tom Landry (profile), Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 6:07pm

    I respect the hell out of most LE officers but at some point they forgot who they are working for.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 6:14pm

    Prosecutors are part of the police family. Mafia family members protect each other.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 6:26pm

    A lot of law and order fanatics tell us "if you're not breaking the law, you have nothing to hide". Guess what? It works both ways.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 6:42pm

    Here is an idea lets track the police.

    Youtube: Is Your Girlfriend Cheating? Here's one way to find out!

    Spend $25 bucks and keep a tab on the cops.

    Also I can see some uses that are not privacy related but security related, your security.

    If you are walking somewhere that is dangerous, that could be good if anybody gets worried.

    If you go to a protest and get arrested others will find you.

    If you get arrested and is ok at the time but when you show up at the PD you are all bruised you can show where it happened and for how long it did go on.

    If you get murdered people could find out where you were dumped, think of your loved ones.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 6:45pm

    What part of being in public is not understood as being public? The only thing this law served was a method to hide police misconduct. Now are they going to let those out of jail that went in this charge or was added to charges already against them?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 6:47pm

    What part of being in public is not understood as being public? The only thing this law served was a method to hide police misconduct. Are they going to let those out of jail that went in this charge or was added to charges already against them, making it a three strikes with mandatory sentencing laws?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 7:15pm

    I visit Chicago on a regular basis and travel throughout the country. There is a culture there and in a few other cities I visit, mostly on the east coast that is strange. The citizens expect the cops to act like they rule the streets, the cops expect it, and laws, all laws, simply do not apply to them. The defense and prosecuting attorneys hash out the cases before they go to trial to make each others careers a success and everyone is a friend of everyone else.

    Believe or not there are areas in the country (most actually) where the cops obey the same laws they enforce- they drive under the speed limit, obey traffic lights, work a full shift under the careful eye of the public or risk losing their jobs. If they do not then the media will expose them on local television and they will be fired. If this is a surprise to you then you do not live there where most of us do and hold our politicians and public servants to a higher standard than you.

    Then there is Chicago...a reality unto itself where everyone is on the take and getting a job in the city or government is the same as winning the lottery where you split the pot from the tax paying suckers. Video threatens this arrangement and the system they grew up understanding would be theirs to control someday.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 7:26pm

    Public Service

    Someone outside living Illinois needs to create a special YouTube channel and accept anonymous submissions of this natue from the citizens of Illinois to be posted on their behalf as a public service to those citizens. This is has to be one of the dumbest laws I'be seen in a long time.

     

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    Keii (profile), Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 7:37pm

    Ah yes...

    Welcome to Illinois. Your constitution doesn't apply here. Also, there's a good chance the current governor is corrupt.

     

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      Pirate Apologist, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 7:52pm

      Re: Ah yes...

      that's not true... just cause the last two gov's are behind bars doesn't mean this one is corrupt too...



      maybe...

       

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      trollificus (profile), Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 7:28am

      Re: Ah yes...

      Yes, if you accept "a good chance" as a mathematical term equivalent to the chance of a coin landing heads or tails.

      Also, though I am an honest-to-God NotRepublican, I still feel obliged to point out that our first half-white president comes out of the very same political culture identified here.

      Just. Sayin'.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 9:44am

        Re: Re: Ah yes...

        Well Obama did repeal the Habeas Corpus/allowed it to be repealed.
        The TSA's "enhanced" pat-down came out under his watch.
        An Alwarki was murdered by his orders (and we're still waiting for proof that he was guilty - the word of the President just doesn't do it for me).

         

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        Keii (profile), Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 12:43pm

        Re: Re: Ah yes...

        Well the crooks in Illinois have swapped out that coin for a weighted one.

         

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    Cheesie, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 8:21pm

    FIBs

    There's a reason Illinois residents are nicknamed FIBs. It's the most corrupt state in the country, and best to avoid it completely.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2012 @ 10:06pm

    I don't understand why you complain about Illinoistan so much...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 5:33am

    But, at some point, it seems they have to recognize the ridiculousness of making it a crime to record police on the job.

    Illinois is the state that REQUIRES photo ID along with name and address to be taken down in order to buy drain cleaner!

    Recognizing the ridiculous is not the Illinois lawmaker's strong suit.

     

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    bugmenot (profile), Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 7:28am

    Illinois legislators protecting themselves

    Chicago was declared the most politically corrupt city in the nation by the Univ of Illinois. Illinois the third most corrupt state. You would expect its leaders to try to hide from the people. Note Obama is Chicago's ranking politician ;-)

     

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    abc gum, Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 7:39am

    And the "state" keeps appealing ...
    At what point does this become a crime?

    It certainly is a waste of taxpayers hard earned dollars.
    I suppose they are like any other lawyer when it comes to billable hours, but they should be serving the public, not themselves.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 11:31am

      Re:

      You think they aren't serving the public? Those government lawyers are working to defend a law passed by the legislators that the people elected. That's their job, and I'm not going to fault the lawyers for doing their job. (And if the case isn't properly argued, it's not going to set a good precedent anyway.)

      If you want the government to serve the public, you need to elect people who want to serve the public. It would be preferable to stop these laws by repealing them or having them not be passed in the first place. But if the laws are on the books, we might as well have them fight it out so we can say once and for all that the law is unconstitutional, instead of having the law sit there so people think filming the police IS illegal even though the law is unenforceable.

       

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        abc gum, Mar 4th, 2012 @ 10:41am

        Re: Re:

        I agree - it is a stupid law put in place for nefarious purpose and should be stricken. Getting it removed by those who put it there is like herding cats. This particular attempt at over reach has been hashed out in many courts across the country and IIRC all ruling have said it is total bunk - and yet these bozos continue to appeal. This is more than simply doing ones job.

        The common rational which makes use of blaming voters for their representative government is a cheap shot. Not all states allow recall of their representatives - most of which lied about their intentions during the campaign and therefore do not represent the will of the people who put them there, much less those who voted for other candidates.

        So the question remains, at what point does the continuous appealing of court decisions become egregious abuse of position? In this case the Illinois supreme court said no, think SCOTUS will take up this case? If so, why? They seem to have already ruled in this area.

         

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    Thomas (profile), Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 10:10am

    Cops...

    are always saying "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about", but they don't want it to go the other way around. The cops in Illinois just want to be able to beat the crap out of anyone they feel like and get away with it. I would much rather encounter a mugger than a cop. Give the mugger your phone and money and they leave you alone. Annoy a cop and you get a nasty beating on the spot, a criminal record, and probably more beatings and worse in their crappy jails, plus a huge bill to defend yourself from bogus charges. I avoid Illinois - it is not a safe state to visit. The prosecutors feel the cops can do no wrong and want to keep it that way.

     

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    InvinoVeritas, Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    The Federal Courts Already Did This.

    http://peacefreedomprosperity.com/5618/federal-court-rules-videotaping-police-is-a-first-amendment-r ight/

    Informative article regarding the federal rulings on recording police officers. Apparently, federal judges believe it's a first amendment right to be able to record police officers performing their duty.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2012 @ 2:26am

    Filming police is also a crime in Virginia.

    http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/222686

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2012 @ 2:26am

    Filming police is also a crime in Virginia.

    http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/222686

     

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    awbMaven (profile), Mar 4th, 2012 @ 4:15am

    Taking a dump

    "Last we'd heard, Illinois prosecutors were appealing the first ruling, and I imagine they won't be too happy about this ruling either. But, at some point, it seems they have to recognize the ridiculousness of making it a crime to record police on the job."

    In the UK, when someone is 'on the job", they are taking a dump on the crapper, ie, having a shit on the toilet.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2012 @ 5:46am

    Yea Prosecutors. You mean the guys that tell the police chief that they need to be reelected, so lets ramp up the harassement of the poor people down on Easy Street. Love the parody.

     

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    amorro (profile), Mar 4th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    Battle Not Over Yet

    The Illinois Eavesdropping’s battle isn’t over yet. On March 15th, 2012, Melongo will argue her motion to dismiss. She recorded Pamela Taylor, a Cook County Court Manager, for an alleged tampered court transcript. She’s challenging this controversial law on First and Fourteenth Amendments grounds.
    Melongo's motion : http://tinyurl.com/6nqv2se
    State's response: http://tinyurl.com/73fwecf

     

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    amorro (profile), Mar 4th, 2012 @ 6:41pm

    Not Over Yet

    The Illinois Eavesdropping’s battle isn’t over yet. On March 15th, 2012, Melongo will argue her motion to dismiss. She recorded Pamela Taylor, a Cook County Court Manager, for an alleged tampered court transcript. She’s challenging this controversial law on First and Fourteenth Amendments grounds.
    Melongo's motion : http://tinyurl.com/6nqv2se
    State's response: http://tinyurl.com/73fwecf

     

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    amorro (profile), Mar 4th, 2012 @ 6:52pm

    It's Not Over

    The Illinois Eavesdropping’s battle isn’t over yet. On March 15th, 2012, Melongo will argue her motion to dismiss. She recorded Pamela Taylor, a Cook County Court Manager, for an alleged tampered court transcript. She’s challenging this controversial law on First and Fourteenth Amendments grounds.
    Melongo's motion : http://tinyurl.com/6nqv2se
    State's response: http://tinyurl.com/73fwecf

     

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    identicon
    TH, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:05pm

    People's Republic of Illinois

    You couldn't pay me to live in that fascist state (IL)

     

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