SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Illinois Supreme Court strikes down state “eavesdropping” law

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Tribune

The Illinois Supreme Court this morning struck down the state’s eavesdropping law, one of the strictest in the nation that made audio recording of any person, even in public, illegal unless that person gave their consent.

The high court’s ruling comes two years after a federal appeals court in Chicago found unconstitutional the law’s ban on recording police officers in public. The court prohibited enforcement of that part of the law shortly before Chicago hosted the NATO summit.

During arguments before the state Supreme Court in January, Justice Robert Thomas referred to the “overbreadth of the statute” and said it seemed to make it a crime to record a “shouting match at a baseball game” and post it on YouTube.

* Via the American Civil LIberties Union of Illinois, here’s a press release sent out by Ms. Melongo’s lawyers….

In a ruling that protects citizen’s ability to gather and disseminate information about governmental activity, the Illinois Supreme Court held today that the state’s Eavesdropping Statute is unconstitutional. In two unanimous decisions, People v. Melongo and People v. Clark, the Supreme Court held that the controversial statute violated the free speech and due process protections of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions.

The Illinois Eavesdropping Statute was enacted to protect private conversations from being recorded without consent. But the Supreme Court held that the statute, as written, was far too broad, making criminals out of people who recorded conversations that were undeniably public, or that nobody intended to be private. For example, the statute made it a felony for someone to record on his iPhone a shouting match between two passionate fans in the stands at a baseball game, or to record police officers interacting with protesters in a public plaza in front of City Hall and posting the exchange on YouTube.

The Supreme Court also held that the statute infringed on the free speech rights of citizens by making it a crime to audio record conversations with public officials, who have no privacy interest in the statements they make while interacting with the public, including recording police officers making public arrests. In fact, as it turns out, the only prosecutions ever brought under the statute charged citizens with felonies for recording and reporting on conversations with police officers or public officials performing their official duties, in violation of their First Amendment rights.

The case against Annabel Melongo was one such example. Ms. Melongo was charged in Cook County in 2009 with six counts of felony eavesdropping. Her crime was recording telephone conversations she had with a representative of the Circuit Court of Cook County, who was explaining to her the official procedure for correcting an inaccurate court transcript, and then posting those conversations on a blog aimed at exposing public corruption. Ms. Melongo served almost two years in jail before a Circuit Court judge concluded that it was unconstitutional to charge her with eavesdropping.

The State’s Attorney appealed the trial court’s decision directly to the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that the broad statute was properly applied to her conduct. The Supreme Court disagreed, writing that the Eavesdropping Statute “burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to serve a legitimate interest in protecting conversational privacy” and is thus “unconstitutional on its face.”

The Court went on: “The statute criminalizes the recording of conversations that cannot be deemed private: a loud argument on the street, a political debate on a college quad, yelling fans at an athletic event, or any conversation loud enough that the speakers should expect to be heard by others. None of these examples implicate privacy interests, yet the statute makes it a felony to record each one. Judged in terms of the legislative purpose of protecting conversational privacy, the statute’s scope is simply too broad.” [Emphasis added.]

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, overall, we have a very good Supreme Court in this state. The statute in question is ridiculously unconstitutional. And the fact that Ms. Melongo served almost two years behind bars because of an over-zealous Cook County State’s Attorney is totally unconscionable. And State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s appeal defied all standards of decency and common sense.

The decisions are here and here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


43 Comments
  1. - Walker - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    About time.


  2. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:15 am:

    Overall, we have an extraordinarily good Supreme Court.


  3. - State employee - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:17 am:

    Kudos to the state supreme court for this.


  4. - Aldyth - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    Overturning this law was overdue. It’s certainly been abused by law enforcement.


  5. - Chris - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:23 am:

    Question:

    How long before someone introduces a new law that is ‘trying’ to comply with the ruling, but still is overprotective of the Police and subject to use in abusive prosecutions?


  6. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    I think this is a great decision, but not for the reasons mentioned so far.

    The decision will also allow state and local police to record conversations with one party consent. A few more crooks are going to be convicted with their own words. Perhaps it might even mean the state can take a few of these public corruption investigations up instead of relying on the fed’s all the time.


  7. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    It was a ridiculous police-state law and a despicably over-zealous prosecution by Alvarez.

    Noticed on my GOP ballot that no Republican even bothered to file for Cook County State’s Attorney.

    I guess there aren’t any Republican lawyers in Cook County who have strong feelings about the Constitution.


  8. - Wensicia - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    I would never accuse Alvarez of having decency and common sense.
    Another slap back for her office.


  9. - Mason born - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:27 am:

    Well done Supremes.

    “the only prosecutions ever brought under the statute charged citizens with felonies for recording and reporting on conversations with police officers or public officials performing their official duties,”

    It’s a shame it took this long to get it to the court to correct.


  10. - vise77 - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    Good news.


  11. - Jim'e' - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:31 am:

    I hope this sends a message to Anita to chill, and to stick to only putting the violent behind bars.


  12. - Demoralized - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:31 am:

    Why anybody thinks they have a right to privacy in public is beyond me.


  13. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    Good. I agree with everyone it’s past due.


  14. - John Boch - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    A very good state supreme court indeed.

    This law has always been, in large part, about protecting corrupt politicians in this state.

    John


  15. - Paul - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    Can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction when someone gets arrested and convicted because the po po were recording them in public. Be careful what you wish for people. And as far as i know, phone calls aren’t “being in public”


  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    Word-
    The SA is not up for election this year.


  17. - Demoralized - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    ==phone calls aren’t “being in public”==

    If you are talking on it in public it is.


  18. - Capo - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    Absolutely long overdue. It is clear this now former law was primarily used to protect public officials entrusted by the public to govern and enforce the laws. Sometimes these public officials abuse their power and laws like this often protected their abusive/illegal conduct and the focus turned on the formerly illegal conduct of the complainant. Ridiculous governmental abuse. All to frequently it is circle the wagons to protect the accused one in power and turn the focus to the complainant.


  19. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    –Can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction when someone gets arrested and convicted because the po po were recording them in public.–

    You can’t be serious. Have you ever seen “Cops?”


  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    Anon 10:44, thanks, my bad. I morphed it into the other county offices that are up.


  21. - Backwards - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    There’s much more to the Melongo story.

    Her “eavesdropping” consisted of Whistleblowing at the troubled Save-a-Life Foundation, the “charity” sponsored by Dick Durbin and Jan Schakowsky.


  22. - dupage dan - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    Hard to imagine this law was anything other than keeping bad actions by a few bad cops from being proven thru the use of incontrovertible evidence. We have seen where this kind of action has also vindicated some cops’ actions. What is the down side? I note Alvarez wasn’t the SA arguing this in front of the Supremes. If it was so important why not? Is it possible she isn’t licensed to practice in front of the ISCOTUS? (snark).


  23. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Every State’s Attorney is obliged to appeal a statute when it is found unconstitutional, for no one else can do it. Also, the State’s Attorneys have been trying to fix this statute for years. It’s wholly unfair and specious to lay this on the lap of prosecutors. Where’s the vitriol for the assembly that passed this….. In fact Dillard was quoted in the opinion.


  24. - Backwards - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Dan,
    There is more to it. For some reason Anita Alvarez did not want Melongo to continue talking to Chuck Goudie, so she was arrested for revealing some financial information at the SALF to ABC-7.

    Could be because it was technically illegal, but why this case? Needs Chuck Gouldie back on it.


  25. - RonOglesby - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    Wordslinger “It was a ridiculous police-state law and a despicably over-zealous prosecution by Alvarez. ”

    YES.

    This law (loved by the political class and agents thereof) was used to beat citizens over the head. Police that said or did something wrong, agency employees failing to do the job, or even talking to a politician or his staff.

    What is sad is that it was held onto and defended… and while we all seem to be applauding this ruling, maybe we should think to ourselves “WHO defended and maintained this law and why are they still in their job”


  26. - Glenn - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    Were there ever prosecutions for use of fixed security cameras under this overturned law?

    Why then was the use of mobile cameras deemed illegal?

    Alvarez should lose her job over the Melongo prosecution.


  27. - RonOglesby - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    @Glenn
    “Alvarez should lose her job over the Melongo prosecution. ”

    SHOULD. But wont.


  28. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    Shame on the legislators who voted against repealing this disgusting, unconstitutional law. I’m sure they all claim to value freedom, but their vote to continue sending people to prison for a behavior that causes no harm is unconscionable. The CCSAO is also guilty of gross injustice.


  29. - pingu - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    It might be wise to remember that any in-state telephone calls can now be recorded by the other party without your consent or knowledge (absent some other surviving prohibition).


  30. - In the Middle - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    The asst. state’s attorney, Spellberg…

    “he told the justices the issue before them was one of legislative policy outside their authority, not a constitutional one”

    Yeah, I’m sure the justices really loved hearing that. Great move. Genius.

    Glad they sided with Melongo on this. Just shameful what happened to her.


  31. - RonOglesby - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    @pingu,

    as if that wasn’t possible before? The only time this law was enforced was when people recorded state agents of some type and the state agent said or did something that was stupid, embarrassing or illegal.

    Assuming this law is what stopped people form recording you was silly.


  32. - Glenn - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    “Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.”–Senator Durbin

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/20978789-452/sen-dick-durbin-its-time-to-say-whos-a-real-reporter.html

    Don’t worry. Senator Durbin is thinking about making it a crime to report without a being licensed by the State.


  33. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    @ Glenn

    This is about recording sound not picture.


  34. - Glenn - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    @Leave a Light on George

    Wrong.

    “For example, the statute made it a felony for someone to record on his iPhone a shouting match between two passionate fans in the stands at a baseball game, or to record police officers interacting with protesters in a public plaza in front of City Hall and posting the exchange on YouTube.”


  35. - Fed up - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    Glenn, it was legal to record video as long as you didn’t record audio. Many in law enforcement thought it was a silly law also. Audio could not be used from Video. Even if video existed where no expectation of privacy existed.


  36. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    The Nekritz bill (SB 1808), to repeal this monstrosity passed the House on the second try in 2012, but the Senate sponsor, Mike Noland, refused to call it on May 30, killing it. Consequently, he is responsible for the fact that the law is still on the books. We could call it the Noland law. Now we can celebrate that the Noland law is no longer valid.


  37. - pingu - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    @RonO - True, but it wasn’t admissible in court before.


  38. - DuPage - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 1:59 pm:

    I hope the ILSC also upholds the constitution and throws out SB1.


  39. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    @ Glenn

    Bite me.

    I worked in Law Enforcement for nearly 28 years. I headed up a small undercover /detective detail for 7yrs. I know the history of eavesdropping law in this state.


  40. - robert lincoln - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 4:54 pm:

    Lots of ignorance here today. The legislature has repeatedly refused to change a bad law. Numerous law enforcement including cook county has tried to change law. Legislature refuses to change law because they don’t wish to be the subject being recorded. CCSAO is obligated to argue the constitutionality of the law on appeal. Simply change our law to single party consent state. Like everyone else. LEGISLATURE refuses.


  41. - Backwards - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 5:01 pm:

    RL,

    Sounds good, but way to technical to describe what happened here. Durbin and Schakowsky, and several other Illinois politicians sponsored this “charity”. Melongo blew the whistle, and Alvarez had her arrested and imprisoned.

    It’s the standard issue political bullying and disappearing Federal Grants that make this a case. No one would have looked at it if it was someone tape recording a DUI arrest or something.


  42. - Pacman - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 6:46 pm:

    About time! One party consent for all. Illinois was the only state or one of a few left in the country that had such restrictive overhear laws. No more hoop jumping to conduct one party consent overhears. This is kinda like concealed carry, that being Illinois last in nation to give the citizens their rights back!


  43. - liandro - Thursday, Mar 20, 14 @ 9:40 pm:

    Awesome.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Moody's states the obvious
* Question of the day
* Setting the Record Straight: Getting Solar Right in Illinois
* Nuclear Energy: Keeping the Lights on for Illinois’ Businesses
* MALDEF prefers Franks remap reform over Independent Maps' proposal
* Open thread
* Lead, follow or get the heck out of the way
* Daley's tinfoil hat
* 30-day pause in Lucas lawsuit
* Brady amendment kills lite guv proposal
* *** LIVE *** Session Coverage
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Update
* "Once it goes, it’s virtually impossible to rebuild"
* Graduated income tax backers predict bipartisan support
* More bad news for Exelon
* Civic Federation rips Rauner budget proposal
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's blog posts

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............


Search This Blog...

Search the 98th General Assembly By Bill Number
(example: HB0001)

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

  
* iPhone 7 design changes, HTC smartwatch & more – Pocketnow Daily
* Patent approved for interchangeable Apple Pencil tips
* Weibo rumorer splats down everything Galaxy Note 6
* Jolla closes third round of funding, ready to boost software vending
* Android Marshmallow is growing slower than how Lollipop did
* Sprint made money in 2015
* [TA Deals] Lifetime subscriptions for OSTraining Developer Courses are 96% off

* White Sox soar out of tough first month
* Danks released, ending 10-year run with White Sox
* Danks released, ending 10-year run with White Sox
* Hit in 57 games, win $5.6 million
* White Sox DFA John Danks
* Danks released, ending 10-year run with White Sox
* Under New Management - A Boston Red Sox preview

...............


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress

Loading


* Illinois Panel Votes Down Plan To Shutter Kewan.....
* Illinois Panel Votes Against Plan to Close Dete.....
* Redistricting reform amendment clears House eas.....
* What does Mom want? When does she want it? - Be.....
* Illinois Commission Fails To Approve Closure Of.....
* Panel recommends sparing Kewanee juvenile facil.....
* May Declared Motorcycle Awareness Month - MySta.....
* Civic Federation opposes Rauner's recommended F.....


* SIU offers plan to boost campus diversity after protests
* UI student's medical records sought in infant death case
* Illinois panel votes against plan to close detention center
* College of DuPage appoints its first female president
* Illinois Democrats weighing higher taxes for the wealthy
* Illinois retail medical marijuana sales top $2M in April
* Rockford girl charged in connection with teen's death
* Parolee faces murder charges in girlfriend's beating death
* Chicago: Students can access bathrooms by 'gender identity'
* 3 shooting incidents leave 2 teens, man dead in Chicago

* Legislative remap amendment proposal receives approval in Illinois House
* Caterpillar moving mining division offices to Arizona
* Legislative panel votes against plan to close Kewanee youth detention center
* Graduated income tax proposal delayed in House, expected to come up Wednesday
* Price, demand driving Illinois' hog farm expansion
* Medicaid policy may deny access to HIV medication
* Rauner: Graduated tax would be bad for the state
* Suit: Illinois law restricting child sex offenders too vague
* Medical marijuana panel meets to evaluate 15 new conditions
* National Wrestling Hall of Fame revokes Hastert's awards

* Dynegy to shutter 30 percent of downstate power-generation capacity
* CPS students can access bathrooms by gender identity
* State tries again to promote urban solar, but ComEd still holds the cards
* Should big foundations fill Chicago's pension hole?
* Friends of the Parks rejects Emanuel's new Lucas Museum site


* Man seriously wounded in West Pullman shooting
* Ted Cruz ends his bid for GOP presidential nomination
* Hamstring injury puts Szczur on DL; Heyward (wrist) still out
* Mihalopoulos: Left wing’s feathers ruffle too easily
* 2 shot in West Englewood
* 2 shot in West Englewood
* Johnson says NW Side murder is another reason for tough gun laws
* Geneva woman charged with stealing more than $100K from clinic
* Trump dashes Cruz’s hopes in Indiana; Sanders-Clinton close
* Baseball by the numbers: Position shift puts Eaton in right spot


* Naperville teen faces felony charge after gun found at school
* Alleged NU chapel vandals indicted on a dozen hate crime charges
* Trump virtually clinches GOP presidential nomination after Indiana win
* We're going to miss Barack Obama when he's gone
* Ted Cruz suspends campaign after Indiana loss
* Cubs, Jake Arrieta lead Pirates 6-0 in 7th
* With focus on a "special summer," White Sox part with veteran John Danks
* 5 child sex offenders sue, say many restrictions unconstitutional
* CPS updates guidelines for transgender students and employees
* Lucas looking outside Chicago as parks group opposes any lakefront museum sites


* Catherine Rampell: Hillary Clinton is a fiscal conservative — look it up
* E.J. Dionne Jr.: The irony of celebrity populism
* Michael Gerson: The state of disunion
* Legislative remap amendment proposal receives approval in Illinois House
* Pete Giangreco: Illinois should move ahead on automatic voter registration
* Caterpillar moving mining division offices to Arizona
* Legislative panel votes against plan to close Kewanee youth detention center
* Graduated income tax proposal delayed in House, expected to come up Wednesday
* Price, demand driving Illinois' hog farm expansion
* Their View: A sigh of relief that Chicago didn't get Olympics


* PODCAST: SportsTalk 05-03-16
* Man sentenced to probation for robbery last week charged with aggravated robbery
* Tazewell County 4-H mentoring program provides platform for teens to develop leadership skills
* PODCAST: Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville)
* Custard Cup preparing to open
* Cena headlines WWE card in Danville
* Street closures listing
* Vandals spray-paint vehicles, shed in Mahomet
* Frerichs on DWS: automatic retirement program starts next year
* Updated: fifth man arrested in Gibson case


* Cruz drops out of GOP primary after Indiana loss to Trump
* Disability or not, students play together in South Elgin
* Softball: Huntley takes pitchers' duel over Dundee-Crown
* Carol Stream moves on village hall addition, using reserves
* Is an electronics drop off site ahead for Libertyville?

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Senator Durbin Talks with SIU Law School S......
* Sen. Dick Durbin visited southern Illinois......

* Rep. Lang Calls On Sen. Kirk To Act - FOX ......

* Fight For $15 Takes Battle For A Living Wage To Chicago Suburbs
* Report: Only A Fraction of Juvenile Records Expunged In Illinois
* Cruz Drops Out Of 2016 Presidential Race
* Illinois Panel Votes Down Plan To Shutter Kewanee Youth Detention Center
* Evanston Fight for $15 protest 2
* Downtown Chicago Security Guards 'Win Big' Under New Labor Contract
* Evanston Fight for $15 protest
* Trump Wins Indiana GOP Primary
* AG Madigan Wants Statute Of Limitations Eliminated For Child Sex Crimes
* Dynegy Announces Phase Out Of Central, Southern Illinois Coal-Fired Units


* Emergency Management Officials, National Weather Service Encourage Winter Preparedness - November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
* Keep Your Family Safe This Winter - November through February are leading months for carbon monoxide related incidents
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact




Hosted by MCS -- CapitolFax.com Privacy Policy -- SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax -- Advertise Here -- Mobile Version -- Contact Rich Miller