Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Can recording an Illinois politician's speech violate the Eavesdropping Act?

A lawyer now informs me that Illinois Eavesdropping the law does not apply to a political speech because it is not a conversation -- setting me back -- but off the top of my head I wonder: suppose the speech maker answers question or curses or takes personal questions before a crowd while exiting. Suppose a teacher converses with the class.

A law could not constitutionally ban recording a political speech if it so intended. Wouldn't be putting too much of a burden on free speech to require students to constantly turn recorders on and off?

Got to kick it over. Sounds like it should all narrow down to whether a law may constitutionally bar recording a private conversation in a private place -- if everyone knows it is being recorded. Banning recording of a public official doing public work in a public place seems way back there somewhere on the bannable scale. Off the top of my cab driver head. :-)

From http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1349966/Chicago-artist-Chris-Drew-faces-15-years-jail-recorded-arrest.html :
"In Illinois police are currently prosecuting nine people for alleged breaches of the law [Eavesdropping Act -- A.K.A., Illinois Corrupt Politicians Protection Act]. The maximum penalty is only three years behind bars for the first time the law is broken and five years if it is done again. But anyone recording a judge, attorney general, state attorney or police officer can be sent to jail for up to 15 years."

May a politician making a speech before an Illinois audience of many thousands forbid one and all from sound recording -- in light of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment? Can a citizen in Illinois recording such a speech without a politicians express permission be so charged under the Eavesdropping Act – in light of our First Amendment rights?

Assuming the Illinois eavesdropping act is constitutional, charging Street artist Chris Drew (no relation) recording police performance of public duty in the public way would seem a strange place to start. How about the tens of thousands of Illinois private college and high school students who record their teachers lectures without so much as informing them?

It should be easy to set up a sting for inarguably such criminal behavior by passing an investigating officer off as taking a survey taker, asking students if they record in class, as they exit their schools. Wait until they get around the corner to grab them and put them on buses – students wouldn't need too much guarding; you could utilize a minimum number of police. A couple busloads from 100 Illinois schools should be easy to fill: 10,000 students in one day. Drive the buses to someplace like United Center. Seat students in the stands. Judges can set up multiple courts on the stadium floor for arraignments.

Once that legal point goes out to the world it will be time for neighbor to watch neighbor – Janet Napolitano style.

I just watched a cell phone video on TV news of somebody driving the wrong way down a highway taken from a vehicle driving on a parallel road. If the picture taker forgot to inform his passenger that he was recording sound too as they conversed: you've got a prosecution. You just have to think through the angles.

Recording devices are becoming so ubiquitous – a recording studio in everyone's pocket; broadcast studios did not even have high definition until recently – that First Amendment jurisprudence may have to accept their unannounced -- and an asked -- use as legally indistinguishable from recordings we make with our brains – or something like that. ???

I'm not saying it should be okay to sneak into the back of a police car and secretly record officers private conversations about their preferences in doughnut shops – threatening to overload their favorite spots when word gets around: 15 years!

1 comment:

Unknown 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.