March 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

  • Illinois Supreme Court: Eavesdropping law violates free speech

  • CHICAGO — Illinois’ Supreme Court declared one of the nation’s toughest eavesdropping laws unconstitutional.
  • In this photo taken Feb 2, 2012, cell phones are used to record Henry Bayer, executive director of AFSCME Council 31, right, while protesting and being confronted by the Illinois Secretary of State Police. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)ASSOCIATED PRESSIn this photo taken Feb 2, 2012, cell phones are used to record Henry Bayer, executive director of AFSCME Council 31, right, while protesting and being confronted by the Illinois Secretary of State Police. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
  • By Michael Tarm
    The Associated Press
    Posted Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:45 am

    CHICAGO — Illinois’ Supreme Court declared one of the nation’s toughest eavesdropping laws unconstitutional, saying Thursday that the law was so overly broad that it would technically make the recording of screaming fans at a football game a crime.

    The ruling is the final defeat for the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which had made it a felony for someone to record a conversation unless all parties involved agreed. The 1961 law violates free speech and due process protections, the court decided in unanimous decisions in two related cases focused on audio recordings.

    State legislators will now have to draft new rules in a very different privacy environment than existed five decades ago.

    “The burden is now on the legislature to craft a statute that actually serves the goal of protecting privacy — and that does so without infringing on the rights of citizens to keep public officials honest,” said Gabe Plotkin, a lawyer for Annabel Melongo, a defendant in one of the two cases.

    Melongo spent nearly two years in jail after being charged under the statute for recording a Cook County court official over the phone who she believed wasn’t carrying out her duties properly.

    The Illinois law had suffered earlier defeats, including in 2012 when the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a provision that barred anyone from video recording police officers doing their jobs in public. Thursday’s decisions — in People v. Melongo and People v. Clark — mean lawmakers in Springfield will have to ensure the statute complies with court findings.

    “Instead of serving as a shield to protect individual privacy, the statute was written so broadly that it allowed the state to use it as a sword to prosecute citizens for monitoring and reporting on the conduct of public officials,” Plotkin said.

    State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a vocal opponent of the law’s ban on recording police, said the eavesdropping law did help establish what she described as a sound principle that two parties in a clearly private conversation must both agree about recording the conversation.

    “Some lawmakers may try to abandon the two-party consent rule, and I don’t support abandoning it (altogether),” the Northbrook Democrat said. “We need to have an eavesdropping law. … We have to find a balance.”

    The Illinois justices took pains to say that protecting truly private discussions would be lawful, including because “the fear of having private conversations exposed to the public may have a chilling effect on private speech,” they said in their opinion in the People v. Clark.

    But as written, Illinois’ law criminalizes recordings of conversations that are clearly public, the high court concluded. Under the law, it said, recording a political debate on a college quad, a vocal argument on a street corner or fans yelling at a game could be deemed a crime.

    Judged in terms of the legislative purpose of protecting conversational privacy, the statute’s scope is simply too broad,” the justices wrote.

    Whether someone has an expectation of privacy is often the standard nationwide for deciding if a conversation is private or not, but Illinois’ statute does not include that guideline, the justices added, suggesting that was a serious flaw.

    The ubiquity of smartphones and sophisticated listening technology made it that much harder to impose the appropriate restrictions, the court conceded. But it said that didn’t justify a statute so sweeping and ill-defined as to undermine constitutional rights.

    The eavesdropping law also affected the work of the media, prohibiting them from recording an interview subject over the phone without that person’s consent. The law’s demise raises questions about whether the legal obligation remains in effect.

    Melongo made her recording because she said the official wouldn’t correct a mistake in the transcript of a separate case related to her; she also posted the recording online. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office appealed to the high court after Melongo’s trial judge dismissed charges against Melongo.

    Neither the Cook County state’s attorney’s office nor the Illinois attorney’s general’s office, which filed the appeal in the People v. Clark case, had an immediate comment.

    Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140320/News/140329946#ixzz2wdMrpT1j

Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140320/News/140329946#ixzz2wdMXbedU

 

In a unanimous vote the Illinois Supreme Court has dismissed Melongo’s Eavesdropping case.

Decision: http://www.illinoiscorruption.net/documents/supremecourt/SupremeCourtOpinion.pdf

For more on the case: http://www.illinoiscorruption.net/common/supremecourt.html

 

Illinois Supreme Court

Date Description File
The complete docket can be viewed here.
August 9th, 2012 Mr. Podlasek filed a notice of appeal 1
September 28th, 2012 The Cook County State Attorney’s office filed a motion for leave to file docketing statement instanter. 2
October 5th, 2012 The Cook County State Attorney’s office filed a motion for extension of time to file the records. 3
October 10th, 2012 Defendant-appellee, Annabel K. Melongo, filed a motion to appoint counsel. 4
October 16th, 2012 Justice Theis grants the state attorney’s motion to file docketing statement instanter 5
October 16th, 2012 Justice Theis grants the state attorney’s motion for extension of time to file the record. 6
November 11th, 2012 The Cook County State Attorney filed a second motion for extension of time to file the records. 7
November 14th, 2012 Pro Se Defendant-appellee’s motion to appoint counsel is granted. Timothy J. Storm is appointed to represent defendant-appellee. 8
December 4th, 2012 Justice Burke grants the second state attorney’s motion for an extension of time to file the records on appeal. 9
January 7th, 2013 The Cook County State Attorney filed a third motion for extention of time to file the records. 10
January 22nd, 2013 Justice Theis grants the third state attorney’s motion for an extension of time to file the record on appeal. 11
January 24th, 2013 Mr. Storm filed appearance as defendant-appellee’s appointed counsel. 12
January 24th, 2013 Mr. Storm filed a motion to withdraw alleging “unusually difficult” representation of defendant-appellee. 13
January 25th, 2013 Defendant-Appellee filed a response in support of Mr. Storm’s withdrawal alleging “betrayal of attorney-client communication”, “lukewarm representation” and “alienation”. 14
February 5th, 2013 Justice Freeman grants Mr. Storm’s request to withdraw as defendant-appellee’s lawyer. 15
February 22nd, 2013 The Cook County State Attorney filed a fourth motion for extention of time to file the record on appeal. 16
March 4th, 2013 Pro Se Defendant-appellee, filed a motion in opposition of a fourth extention of time to file the record. 17
March 5th, 2013 Justice Burke grants the state attorney’s fourth motion for extension of time to file the record on appeal. 18
April 22nd, 2013 Cook County State Attorney Mr. Alan Spellberg filed a notice for filing the record on appeal. 19
April 24th, 2013 The Illinois Supreme Court Clerk sent a letter setting May 28th, 2013, as the dateline for plaintiff-appellant’s brief. 20
May 1st, 2013 Defendant-Appellee, Annabel K. Melongo, filed a motion for Supplemental Record On Appeal. 21
May 10th, 2013 Cook County State Attorney waived any objection to defendant-Appellee’s motion for supplemental record. 22
May 14th, 2013 Justice Theis grants defendant-appellee’s motion for supplemental record. 23
May 28th, 2013 Cook County State Attorney filed a motion for extension of time to file plaintiff-appellant’s Brief and Argument. 24
June 11th, 2013 Justice Freeman grants the state attorney’s motion for extension of time to file plaintiff-appellant’s Brief and Argument. 25
July 2nd, 2013 Cook County State Attorney filed a second motion for extension of time to file plaintiff-appellant’s Brief and Argument. 26
July 16th, 2013 Justice Burke grants the state attorney’s motion for extension of time to file plaintiff-appellant’s Brief and Argument. 27
August 6th, 2013 Cook County State Attorney filed a third motion for extension of time to file plaintiff-appellant’s Brief and Argument. 28
August 21st, 2013 Justice Freeman grants the state attorney’s motion for extension of time to file plaintiff-appellant’s Brief and Argument. 29
August 30th, 2013 Cook County State Attorney filed a fourth motion for extension of time to file plaintiff-appellant’s Brief and Argument. 30
September 10th, 2013 Justice Burke grants the state attorney’s final motion for extension of time to file plaintiff-appellant’s Brief and Argument. 31
September 27th, 2013 Cook County State Attorney filed plaintiff-appellant’s Appendix. 32
September 27th, 2013 Cook County State Attorney filed plaintiff-appellant’s Brief and Argument. 33
September 30th, 2013 Cook County State Attorney filed a motion for leave to supplement the record on appeal. 34
October 21st, 2013 Mr. Daniel M. Feeney and Mr. Gabriel B. Plotkin of Miller Shakman & Beem file appearance for defendant-appellee. Feeney’s Bio
Plotkin’s Bio
October 21st, 2013 Defendant-Appellee filed motion for extension of time to file brief to and including December 6th, 2013. 35
October 21st, 2013 Mr. Feeney’s affidavit for defendant-appellee’s motion for extension of time to file brief to and including December 6th, 2013. 36
October 29th, 2013 Justice Theis grants defendant-appellee’s motion for extension of time to file brief to and including December 6th, 2013. 37
December 6th, 2013 Defendant-appellee’s Appendix is filed. 38
December 6th, 2013 Defendant-appellee’s Brief is filed. 39
December 9th, 2013 ACLU of Illinois filed a Motion For Leave to file an Amicus Curiae brief in support of defendant-appellee. 40
December 10th, 2013 Justice Burke grants ACLU of Illinois motion to file Amicus Curiae in support of defendant-appellee. 41
December 10th, 2013 ACLU of Illinois filed Amicus Curiae in support of defendant-appellee. 42
December 17th, 2013 Defendant-appellee’s oral argument set to January 14th, at 9.30am at the 18th floor of the Michael A. Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago. 43
December 20th, 2013 Cook County State Attorney’s motion for an extension of time for filing reply brief to and including 01/03/2014. 44
December 23rd, 2013 Justice Burke grants Cook County State Attorney’s motion for an extension of time for filing reply brief to and including 01/03/2014. 45
January 3rd, 2014 Cook County State Attorney filed a reply to Defendant-Appellee’s brief. 46
January 14th, 2014 Oral arguments are heard. Video
March 17th, 2014 Illinois Supreme Court posts an anticipated opinion’s date for March 20th, 2014. 47
March 20th, 2014 The Illinois Supreme Court dismisses Melongo’s Eavesdropping case for good. 48
March 20th, 2014 Miller Shakman & Beem issues a Press Release confirming the dismissal. 49
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