The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to do nothing means you cannot get prosecuted for recording the police in Illinois. A five decade old law had made it a felony to capture the audio of an officer while working in public. But that could be changing permanently.
"There's a distinction made that I can take a video cam and capture everything on my flip phone that's in the public and post it on the web and that's fine. But if I take my same camera and press the audio button that's involving the police, that can be a felony," says Harold Krent, dean of the Kent College of Law.
That's what the Illinois Anti-Eavesdropping Law says, but the Appellate Court decided that was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court basically agreed by not hearing the case.
"This is a fairly standard tactic by the Supreme Count they refuse to take it up so the lower court ruling stands, they don't have to spend time on it," says Kim MacCloskey, attorney.
The case started in 2010 after the Cook County State's Attorney wanted to prosecute members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who were recording police while officers worked in public. Something Krent wonders if it should be allowed without some sort of protection.
"There's a real danger here that we can't lose sight of, when you send something on YouTube or broadcast it in some other way that's related to an ongoing criminal investigation that can interfere with that investigation and compromise the goal, the arrest," says Krent.
"You see them beating some poor guy like Rodney King and you can't video tape that just seems incredibly onerous to freedom in this country," says MacCloskey.
Legislators are considering changing the law. The case now goes back to the District Court which has to decide whether to make the temporary injunction against prosecution permanent.
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