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Dec-02-2012 19:19printcomments

Supreme Court Ruling Affirms the Right to Videotape the Police

Illinois' eavesdropping law is one of the harshest in the country...

Ken Paulsen, president and CEO of the First Amendment Center
'Photography is not a Crime' - Ken Paulsen, president and CEO of the First Amendment Center.

(CHICAGO Chicago Tribune) - 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.

Public debate over the law had been simmering since last year. In August 2011, a Cook County jury acquitted a woman who had been charged with recording Chicago police internal affairs investigators she believed were trying to dissuade her from filing a sexual harassment complaint against a patrol officer.

Judges in Cook and Crawford counties later declared the law unconstitutional, and the McLean County state's attorney cited flaws in the law when he dropped charges in February against a man accused of recording an officer during a traffic stop.

Alvarez argued that allowing the recording of police would discourage civilians from speaking candidly to officers and could cause problems securing crime scenes or conducting sensitive investigations.

But a federal appeals panel ruled that the law "restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests."

Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said he would favor a change allowing citizens to tape the police and vice versa.

Meanwhile, several efforts to amend the statute in Springfield have stalled in committee amid heavy lobbying from law enforcement groups in favor of the current law.




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Anonymous December 3, 2012 12:12 pm (Pacific time)

Same shit happens in Salem.

They have arrested individuals for "interception of communications" but find "creative" ways to make sure they can add charges after they realize that they

will not be able to actually prosecute the interception charge.

I had a dickhead Lieutenant try to "persuade" me not to file a complaint by getting within an inch of my face and yelling at me. Then he said that the camera that was five feet away was not "on" when I asked to get a copy to show his behavior. (Hockmeister, Hoffmeister or something like that)

What about the failure of them to take a complaint for a 12 year old who was raped in broad daylight and witnessed by her friends, but because the cop knew the perpetrator, he watered down the incident report, leaving out all the details pointing to the rapist? I made him go through the guy's house with a team of officers looking for the girl, but that was not even mentioned.

Salem PD is as corrupt as they come.

What about the police they keep on the force after repeated complaints, simply reducing him in rank?

Tim King: Well it is time we propose our TV show about criminal profiling to the industry, it is a powerful idea for a TV show, give me a call when you can and I will fill you in, thanks!

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.