Favorite Quotes

"Once you walk into a courtroom, you've already lost. The best way to win is to avoid it at all costs, because the justice system is anything but" Sydney Carton, Attorney. "There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. Or if they are, they are for courts that are an embarrassment to the ideals of justice. The law of real people doesn't work" Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Illinois Supreme Court allows citizens to videotape police officers.

Chicago, IL - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a controversial Illinois law prohibiting people from recording police officers on the job.

By passing on the issue, the justices left in place a Federal Appeals court ruling that found that the state's anti-eavesdropping law violates free-speech rights when used against people who audiotape police officers.

A temporary injunction issued after that June ruling effectively bars Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez from prosecuting anyone under the current statute. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit against Alvarez, asked a federal judge hearing the case to make the injunction permanent, said Harvey Grossman, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois.

Grossman said he expected that a permanent injunction would set a precedent across Illinois that effectively cripples enforcement of the law.

Alvarez's office will be given a deadline to respond to the ACLU request, but on Monday, Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Alvarez, said a high court ruling in the case could have provided "prosecutors across Illinois with legal clarification and guidance with respect to the constitutionality and enforcement" of the statute.

Illinois' eavesdropping law is one of the harshest in the country, making audio recording of a law enforcement officer — even while on duty and in public — a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The Supreme Court's refusal to grant certiorari in the case doesn't necessarily mean the justices endorse the lower court's ruling. But it does mean that at least six of the current justices weren't so opposed to the ruling that they felt the case needed to be heard.

The First and 7th circuit decisions mean that it is now technically legal to record on-duty police officers in every state in the country. Unfortunately, people are still being arrested for it. Police officers who want to make an arrest to intimidate would-be videographers can always use broadly-written laws that prohibit public disorder, interfering with a police officer, or similar ordinances that give law enforcement wide discretion.

The charges are almost always either subsequently dropped or dismissed in court, but by then the innocent person has been illegally detained, arrested, sometimes jailed, and possibly paid expensive legal fees.

Judge Diane Sykes ruling: http://www.abajournal.com/files/EavesdroppingLaw.pdf


Chicago’s State Attorney doing all she can to keep draconian state eavesdropping law alive.

Chicago, IL - Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez – an ambitious career prosecutor with history a selective prosecution – who is doing everything she can to keep the law in place, even after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  ruled in May that it “likely violates” the Constitution, sending it back down to the lower court to be tried.

Undeterred by that ruling, Alvarez halted the lower court’s proceedings to allow her to petition the 7th Circuit to review the case en blanc; Latin Legalese meaning all ten appellate judges would have had to rule on it instead of the three that did.

When that was laughed down, she petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in the hopes it would overrule the Seventh Circuit’s decision.

the Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the case, which is even a bigger slap in the face to Alvarez, sending it back down to the lower court where the debate began in 2010 after the ACLU filed a preliminary injunction to stop these absurd arrests; fourteen which had been prosecuted during the previous eight years, including three by Alvarez.

But this time, Alvarez can’t depend on Judge Suzanne Conlon to blindly dismiss the ACLU’s complaint as she did twice before on the basis that she failed to see the Constitutional implications in the law, which is what prompted the ACLU to appeal it before the 7th Circuit in the first place.

This time the issue will go before Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman who is almost sure to to use the 7th Circuit’s decision in her ruling as well as this week’s Supreme Court’s acceptance of the decision.

But even when and if Coleman rules the law unconstitutional, Alvarez will no doubt appeal it before the 7th Circuit again, which should be so annoyed with her by this time that it should waste no time in ruling the law unconstitutional and hopefully give her a good kick in the ass in the process.

And once all that happens, the law will be void and have to be redrafted.

And then maybe somebody can get Alvarez on camera to ask her what the hell was she thinking.

For a deeper legal analysis, view the articles at the ACLU and the National Press Photographers Association.

1 comment:

Paul Simon said...

The illinoiscorruption.net has issued an informational video and a press release, to help the media and the general public in the upcoming oral argument at the Illinois Supreme Court hearing in Annabel Melongo’s eavesdropping case. The hearing is scheduled for January 14th, 2014, at the 18th floor of the Michael A. Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago at 9.30 am.

Video: http://www.illinoiscorruption.net/common/video-pressrelease.html
Press Release: http://www.illinoiscorruption.net/common/pressrelease.html

Please support this cause. The Illinois Eavesdropping law at its very core creates a two-class legal system wherein the conversations of the powerful and well-connected are protected to the detriment of the less powerful. The upcoming oral argument presents a unique opportunity for the common citizen to re-establish that legal balance that will unequivocally establish a right to record public officials in their public duties.

Therefore, please contribute to this all-important hearing by either attending it, writing about it, spreading the word or just forwarding the below video and press release to anybody who might be of any help.