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Illinois Judge Latest To Deem Wiretapping Law Unconstitutional

Once again, an Illinois judge has ruled the state’s controversial wiretapping law to be unconstitutional, ramming another nail toward its inevitable death.

Friday’s ruling by Cook County judge Stanley Sacks in the case of Christopher Drew came two days after the McClean County State Attorney deemed the law unconstitutional in the case of another man.

It also came less than six months after Circuit Court Judge David Frankland ruled the law unconstitutional in the case of Michael Allison.

And it came just over six months after a jury acquitted Tiawanda Moore, a 21-year-old woman who was facing prison time for recording Chicago cops who were groping her during an investigation. Moore has since filed a lawsuit.

And let’s not forget it was only in January that Democratic State Representative Elaine Nekritz  introduced a bill that would allow citizens to record cops in public.

Or for that matter, when Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said even he did not agree with the law.

So why is the law that forbids citizens from recording police in public without consent still in the books, especially in this day and age when most everybody has a recording device on them?

We can blame U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne Conlon who last year struck down an ACLU lawsuit trying to change the law on the basis that it was unconstitutional.

In the conclusion of her opinion, Conlon accused the ACLU of attempting an “expansion of the First Amendment” – even though it is legal to record police in public in every other state.

The only other state that has a slight restriction on recording cops in public in Massachusetts, which makes it illegal to secretly record cops in public. But even that has met it challenges.

However, the Illinois Eavesdropping Act is so extreme that it makes it a crime to record anybody in public, including police officers, without their consent, even if you are openly holding the camera.

Adding to the unconstitutionality of the law, police officers are allowed to secretly record citizens without their consent.

Every other state allows the recording of cops in public because they do not have an expectation of privacy – as none of us do in public – even though cops in many states will lie to citizens by telling them they are breaking the law.

The Right to Record blog, which is operated by PINAC reader and law student Mario Cerame, has a very comprehensive breakdown of precedential cases on this subject.

The ACLU quickly appealed Conlon’s opinion but was met with resistance from Judge Richard Posner, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago.

According to a media law letter by Mickey Osterreicher of the National Press Photographers Association, Posner stated the following during an oral argument last September:

“Once all this stuff can be recorded, there’s going to be a lot more of this snooping around by reporters and bloggers.”

ACLU attorney Richard O’Brien countered.

“Is that a bad thing, your honor?” To which Judge Posner stated, “Yes, it is a bad thing. There is such a thing as privacy.”

Posner, 73, is well-respected among his peers, but he is completely out of touch and should retire to write his memoirs because anybody with a basic sense of the law knows nobody has an expectation of privacy in public.

Regardless, he is only one of ten judges reviewing the ACLU Vs Alvarez appeal.

A decision is due any day now, which could be the final nail in the coffin for what has become one of the most abused laws in the country against people who record cops in public for their own protection.


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Once again, an Illinois judge has ruled the state’s controversial wiretapping law to be unconstitutional, ramming another nail toward its inevitable death.

Friday’s ruling by Cook County judge Stanley Sacks in the case of Christopher Drew came two days after the McClean County State Attorney deemed the law unconstitutional in the case of another man.

It also came less than six months after Circuit Court Judge David Frankland ruled the law unconstitutional in the case of Michael Allison.

And it came just over six months after a jury acquitted Tiawanda Moore, a 21-year-old woman who was facing prison time for recording Chicago cops who were groping her during an investigation. Moore has since filed a lawsuit.

And let’s not forget it was only in January that Democratic State Representative Elaine Nekritz  introduced a bill that would allow citizens to record cops in public.

Or for that matter, when Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said even he did not agree with the law.

So why is the law that forbids citizens from recording police in public without consent still in the books, especially in this day and age when most everybody has a recording device on them?

We can blame U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne Conlon who last year struck down an ACLU lawsuit trying to change the law on the basis that it was unconstitutional.

In the conclusion of her opinion, Conlon accused the ACLU of attempting an “expansion of the First Amendment” – even though it is legal to record police in public in every other state.

The only other state that has a slight restriction on recording cops in public in Massachusetts, which makes it illegal to secretly record cops in public. But even that has met it challenges.

However, the Illinois Eavesdropping Act is so extreme that it makes it a crime to record anybody in public, including police officers, without their consent, even if you are openly holding the camera.

Adding to the unconstitutionality of the law, police officers are allowed to secretly record citizens without their consent.

Every other state allows the recording of cops in public because they do not have an expectation of privacy – as none of us do in public – even though cops in many states will lie to citizens by telling them they are breaking the law.

The Right to Record blog, which is operated by PINAC reader and law student Mario Cerame, has a very comprehensive breakdown of precedential cases on this subject.

The ACLU quickly appealed Conlon’s opinion but was met with resistance from Judge Richard Posner, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago.

According to a media law letter by Mickey Osterreicher of the National Press Photographers Association, Posner stated the following during an oral argument last September:

“Once all this stuff can be recorded, there’s going to be a lot more of this snooping around by reporters and bloggers.”

ACLU attorney Richard O’Brien countered.

“Is that a bad thing, your honor?” To which Judge Posner stated, “Yes, it is a bad thing. There is such a thing as privacy.”

Posner, 73, is well-respected among his peers, but he is completely out of touch and should retire to write his memoirs because anybody with a basic sense of the law knows nobody has an expectation of privacy in public.

Regardless, he is only one of ten judges reviewing the ACLU Vs Alvarez appeal.

A decision is due any day now, which could be the final nail in the coffin for what has become one of the most abused laws in the country against people who record cops in public for their own protection.

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