Man Facing 75 Years In Jail For Recording The Police; Illinois Assistant AG Says No Right To Record Police
from the insanity dept
Following on the news of a court in Massachusetts stating, clearly, that arresting someone for recording the police is a 1st Amendment violation, you'd hope that we'd start hearing fewer such stories. And yet, as Nick Burns alerts us (followed by a few more of you), over in Illinois, a guy named Michael Allison appears to be facing 75 years in prison for recording the police. Similar to other cases, the police charged him with illegal eavesdropping under an Illinois state law -- in this case, five felony counts, each of which could get 15 years in prison.
Even worse, the Illinois Assistant Attorney General is arguing that there is no such thing as a right to film the police. Shouldn't there be a rule that if you're totally ignorant of basic Constitutional rights, you don't get to be Attorney General of anything? The Allison case is particularly nasty. It seems clear that it's a vindictive response to the fact that Allison challenged a fine he got for working on unregistered cars on his mother's property. As happens all too often in these types of cases, the prosecutors have been offering Allison plea bargain deals, and I'd imagine they'll keep doing that as public pressure gets stronger. It's the only way to save face against a ridiculous prosecution. Allison is refusing to accept any plea deal.
Also, if you watch the video above, it really shows the kind of chilling effects these arrests have. In the middle of the video, the news reporter comes across some law enforcement officials and asks them some questions, but the station's lawyers refuse to let the reporter play the audio on air... because it might violate the very same law on which the reporter is reporting. Later on, they do show some law enforcement officials -- including the Assistant AG mentioned above -- but only because they believe there's an exception to the law for journalists "at public hearings."
The ruling in Massachusetts doesn't directly apply here, as these are different circuits, but that doesn't mean the court can't or won't pay attention, and I'm sure Allison's lawyers will highlight the Glik ruling in court. Hopefully, the Illinois court finds the logic compelling.