Supreme Court Rejects Appeal Over Law Banning Recording The Police

from the got-one-right dept

You may recall that we've been following the ongoing saga of a poorly-written piece of state legislation in Illinois, which would strip citizens of their First Amendment rights if they were to film law enforcement performing their duties. One gentleman was facing a possible 75 years in jail for five counts at up to 15 years each, until the 7th Circuit appeals court ruled that the law could not be enforced, because it very likely violated the First Amendment. Specifically, they sent it back to the lower court to rule on whether the law did, in fact, violate the First Amendment, along with fairly strong guidance that the lower court should probably toss out the law on those grounds. However, before the district court could review, the appeals court ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has now refused to hear the case, sending it back to the lower court, as the appeals court had originally intended.
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Cook County state's attorney to allow enforcement of a law prohibiting people from recording police officers on the job. The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that found that the state's anti-eavesdropping law violates free speech rights when used against people who tape law enforcement officers.
The ACLU had brought a suit to block the prosecution of their staff recording police in public spaces, a main focus of the organization. They also see the refusal by the Supreme Court to hear the case as a major win for the rights of citizens to keep law enforcement from abusing their power.
Harvey Grossman, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois, said the organization was "pleased that the Supreme Court has refused to take this appeal. . .The ACLU of Illinois continues to believe that in order to make the rights of free expression and petition effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and their agents – especially the police. The advent and widespread accessibility of new technologies make the recording and dissemination of pictures and sound inexpensive, efficient and easy to accomplish."
As recording devices in public become more and more ubiquitous, hopefully law enforcement will cease to shy away from such public scrutiny. After all, in the long run, the ability for the public to check abuses by the authorities will only make those authorities better.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Alana (profile), Nov 27th, 2012 @ 8:21pm

    Who knows, maybe there would have been a cop present at the supreme court and they really didn't want to be charged for violating said law.

    /s

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 8:49pm

    Well, Timmy, if anyone knows "poorly-written", it's you.

    "poorly-written piece of state legislation" -- My, how scathing. This was unconstitutional on its surface. Guess you save your invective for critics of Mike.

    Always check rare words; dictionaries are online now.
    Definition of UBIQUITOUS: existing or being everywhere at the same time : constantly -- That's nearly an absolute, so "more and more ubiquitous" is either vacuous or blow-hardy.

    Your Pollyanna windup made me laugh:
    "After all, in the long run, the ability for the public to check abuses by the authorities will only make those authorities better."
    Yes, Timmy, "authorities" wish to be made better.

     

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      Pixelation, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 8:53pm

      Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows "poorly-written", it's you.

      Dude, crawl back under that rock or we will be forced to film you.

       

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      Larry, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 9:26pm

      Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows "poorly-written", it's you.

      Your use of "quotation" marks does not make me want to quote you. Each paragraph, you "" the author and then "" your pointed works as to give them weight.

      How does one who believes themselves so important require of themselves to use such useless and annoying tools?

      I believe it is because you lack the necessary literary skill to capture anyone's attention otherwise.

      TL/DR: you bore me.

       

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      MrWilson, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 10:34pm

      Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows "poorly-written", it's you.

      "Always check rare words; dictionaries are online now."

      Language is descriptive in nature. Dictionaries are inherently behind current usage because they reflect what has become common usage after it has become common.

      The purpose of language (when people other than you use it) is to communicate clearly. I understood what Tim said. I'm sure other readers understood what Tim said. I'm also sure you understood what Tim said. The purpose has been fulfilled.

      Dictionaries are online now; look up the meaning of the words 'pedantic,' 'petulant,' and 'pathetic.'

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 11:00pm

        Re: Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows

        While I'm generally disgusted, and typically ignore OOtB, he did raise a relevant point in passing: Law enforcement doesn't want to get better. At least it's not particularly concerned with improving how it serves the public.

        Law enforcement these days are primarily concerned with gaining more power and weaponry, as well as making sure to cover its own ass.

        When it comes to recording the police it's relevant to mention the inequality of application of the law. Practically every police car records video of every stop. Why the hell can't citizens do the same?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 11:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows

          The problem with out_of_the_asscrack isn't the fact that he pointed it out. Conversely, it's the fact that he relishes in that fact as though it might deal a physical blow to all who might disagree with him.

           

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          Christopher (profile), Nov 28th, 2012 @ 5:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows

          The problem with recording law enforcement activities is that absent context, the viewer will likely come to the wrong conclusion. The *greater problem* however is that most people have no idea what it really takes to control the bad actors you see filmed.

          You see a 5' 2" lady being maced and are outraged. You don't see the knife sticking out of another lady's chest off-camera. This is the missing context.

          You see a police officer pushing a man to the ground and kneeling on his neck, roughly, and punching him in the face. You don't see the four minutes before that point, where the police officer's lawful commands are ignored, and the miscreant now on the ground had punched and kicked his way into a fight.

          Viewers have no stomach for seeing the outcome of bad decisions. It would be fair to assume police officers would really just like a nice, easy day like anyone else. Being stabbed or shot, or hit by a car is zero fun, and that's essentially the daily existence for every street cop.

          Comply with a police officer's direction, lawyer up without being a jerk, and let the process work. The police officer doesn't really care about your particular interpretation of the law, he or she just wants your stupidity off the street. Tell it to the judge.

          -C

           

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            MrWilson, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 9:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows

            I've worked in law enforcement. What you say is true...for many of the LEOs. But there are some that aren't looking for an easy day. There are bad officers who do abuse citizens due to god complexes, racial/cultural biases, and generally just being dicks. The full footage of a good officer can be used in court to exonerate them for their correct behavior. The full footage of a bad officer can be used to remove such people from law enforcement and prevent the further deterioration of respect for law enforcement, much less prevent further brutality and even murder at the hands of bad cops.

            Not all directions from a police officer are legal orders and do not have to be complied with. Having the officer on tape telling you to step into the street and then arresting you for being in the street will go a long way to getting the false charges dropped. If you think this doesn't happen, you haven't watched enough of the videos of police officers that people have actually taken.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 12:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows

            You see a police officer pushing a man to the ground and kneeling on his neck, roughly, and punching him in the face. You don't see the four minutes before that point, where the police officer's lawful commands are ignored, and the miscreant now on the ground had punched and kicked his way into a fight.

            Why should I give a damn that you can't control yourself once you've already got the man under control? If you feel the need to bleed off your frustration on the face of someone who is no longer 'resisting,' then you need to be bereft of badge and authority, and in counseling. Your flagrant disregard for the public, whom you serve as an officer, is disgusting.

            As an aside, I'd say that if I witnessed this, I would intervene with lethal force if necessary, and the law? That thing you hide behind? Is actually supportive of it.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 11:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows

            "The problem with recording law enforcement activities is that absent context, the viewer will likely come to the wrong conclusion. "

            This may be true, but so what? The same could happen with an eyewitness. Are we next going to ban people from even watching from a distance?

            "Being stabbed or shot, or hit by a car is zero fun, and that's essentially the daily existence for every street cop. "

            Wow... stabbed, shot, or hit by a car, daily, for EVERY street cop? I didn't think it was THAT dangerous. If the officer has already been stabbed/shot/hit by car, they'll have fairly obvious injuries, and I think if they show the bullet wound in court, the jury may well literally let them get away with murder. It would be very difficult to argue against self-defense. But we both know that most of these do not rise to the stabbed/shot/hit by car level. I remember seeing a video of a cop just walking up to a seemingly random protestor, spraying them in the face, and walking away. The people who recorded this do not need to be arrested - the cop does.

             

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            zos, Dec 3rd, 2012 @ 8:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows

            Usually the context makes the officers actions look worse. The real issue is that a substantial portion of those involved in law enforcement got into it to be above the law. For your average powertriping cop the idea that actions may have consequences takes away the reason they joined

             

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      G Thompson (profile), Nov 28th, 2012 @ 4:38am

      Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows "poorly-written", it's you.

      Always check rare words; dictionaries are online now.

      Here's a word for you, even has a dictionary mention of it, and it's all about you!

      IGNORANUS - adj: A person who is not only ignorant, but is also an asshole (ie: out_of_the_blue)

      And in the context of Techdirt it seems your an ubiquitous ignoranus too!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 6:51am

      Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows "poorly-written", it's you.

      Ah, grammar naziism. The last refuge of the turd who's had the rest of his "points" shredded and laughed at. Good show, old bean, but I think it's coming time for you to retire your troll hat.

       

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      down_the_out_of_the_blue_rabbit_hole, May 27th, 2013 @ 6:10am

      Re: Well, Timmy, if anyone knows "poorly-written", it's you.

      Gee Bluey, or should I say Louie kabluey, I have lost my brief adoration for you in that you are a complete asshat in your vile vomit directed at anything techdirty.

      Why are you here? You never add anything to the discussion and if you ever get close you blow it by shitting on the site and its contributors.

      Really, get over yourself and your corrective, controlling ways. I know I am pissing in the wind here as you are a classic troll and this kind of response just gives you FAP fodder.

      I am sure you copy and paste these responses into a document that you cum on later in a fit of self satisfied sexual frenzy.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 9:51pm

    Since most of the legislative is ignorant about how the law works, one can only hope they give up this nonsense and go back to debate other issues for which they also lack qualifications.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 11:28pm

    There's no need to address ootb's points. He's stated he doesn't read the comments so he'll never see your answers. Best thing to do is hit the report button and hide his comment unless it's relevant.

     

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    Gregg, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 7:46am

    The police services should accept that whatever they do, there might always be a camera watching. The public has to endure this reality and the police should as well. It will make them better at their job and can even protect them. If the courts go the other way, then they better be prepared for what kind of a police force will emerge in the future. Absolute power corrupts and there are enough examples of this in history for Police forces around the world and at home.

    Now, mind you I guess the Police forces could sue for copyright\trademark infringement when filmed....lol

     

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    Gregg, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 7:56am

    and there is hope

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121124/17191621133/salt-lake-city-police-dept-makes-move-to-alway s-on-eyecams.shtml

    Once this concept spreads amongst police forces, the whole argument will wash away. ... hopefully

     

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    Thomas (profile), Nov 28th, 2012 @ 8:41am

    Illinois cops

    don't want to be accountable; they want to be able to do whatever they want. Beating innocent citizens is considered a perk to Chicago cops. In the big cities, the cops encounter so many violent criminals that they soon presume everyone is a potential violent criminal, as if a little old lady with a cane and shopping bag is going to whip out a Uzi and start blasting away.

     

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    Mike Kevitt, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 4:37pm

    recording police activity

    It is anybody's right to record police activity in public, just as any news organization, by right, gathers information about gvt. activity. No difference. Anybody can, by right, report the police activity he records, to the public, just as any news organization, by right, reports the information they gather about gvt. activity, to the public. No difference. First Amendment.

     

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    Anon, Jul 7th, 2013 @ 10:00pm

    Any person that had a hand in trying to pass this law should be fired and sued for violating the public's 1st amendment rights. And some that pushed this law are supposed to be educated in the law so they deserve no mercy in a lawsuit.

     

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