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ACLU Challenges Eavesdropping Act

Chicago Tribune via Yellowbrix

August 20, 2010

CHICAGO – It’s not unusual or illegal for police officers to flip on a camera as they get out of their squad car to talk to a driver they’ve pulled over.

But in Illinois, a civilian trying to make an audio recording of police in action is breaking the law.

“It’s an unfair and destructive double standard,” said Adam Schwartz, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

On Wednesday, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago challenging the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which makes it criminal to record not only private but also public conversations made without consent of all parties.

With cell phones that record audio and video in almost every pocket, the ability to capture public conversations, including those involving the police, is only a click away. That raises the odds any police action could wind up being recorded for posterity.

Opponents of the act say that could be a good thing and certainly shouldn’t lead to criminal charges.

The ACLU argues that the act violates the First Amendment and has been used to thwart people who simply want to monitor police activity.

The head of the Chicago police union counters that such recordings could inhibit officers from doing their jobs.

In its lawsuit, the ACLU pointed to six Illinois residents who have faced felony charges after being accused of violating the state’s eavesdropping law for recording police making arrests in public venues.

Adrian and Fanon Perteet were passengers in a car at a DeKalb McDonald’s drive-through in November when police moved in. Officers suspected that the car’s driver was under the influence, according to the brothers.

Fanon Perteet, 23, said he was scared. Past experiences with police had left him suspicious of the officer’s motives, he said. So he pulled out his cell phone and turned on the video camera, which also records sound.

“I felt obligated to record so nothing happened,” said Perteet, an event planner.

When the officers realized they were being taped, Perteet was arrested and taken to a squad car. Adrian Perteet, 21, a student at Northern Illinois University, then took out his cell phone and started recording his brother’s arrest.

Both brothers were charged with violating the eavesdropping act, a felony, their lawyer Bruce Steinberg said. They pleaded guilty in April to attempted eavesdropping, a misdemeanor, to avoid felony convictions, Steinberg said.

The Perteets were ordered to apologize to the officers. They were given back their cell phones, which had been seized by police, but told to delete the recordings. If they complete the terms of the sentence and stay out of trouble, the charges will be dismissed, Steinberg said.

Nonetheless, the episode was an embarrassing experience, said the brothers, who live in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. They welcomed the ACLU’s lawsuit.

“I’ve been waiting for something like this,” Adrian Perteet said. “I don’t want it happening to anyone else.”

Illinois is one of only a few states, including Massachusetts and Oregon, where it is illegal to record audio of conversations that take place in public settings without the permission of everyone involved.

Illinois’ eavesdropping ban was extended in 1994 to include open and obvious audio recording, even if it takes place on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists and in a volume audible to the “unassisted human ear.”

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  • ____max50

    mackliy

    over 3 years ago

    60 Comments

    Sunglasses tend to get scratched regardless of how much care we take when handling them of oakley shades. The sunglasses fall off our faces, they get knocked to the floor, sat on. The potential scratching scenarios are endless. oakley glasses are expensive but the company does offer a replacement warranty. Unfortunately, the warranty only covers the frames and not the lenses. Thankfully, you can remove the scratches from your oakley minute with very little effort.

  • The_cops_max50

    mack77

    over 3 years ago

    70 Comments

    In IL this works both ways, LEOs also can only audio record under certain circumstances. There have been instances of a hindered career over running code to a call and forgetting to shut your mic off, the law just change late 2009 to protect officers from inadvertant recordings on our part.

  • P1010076_max50

    Alexander_Ott

    over 3 years ago

    572 Comments

    Before I start opening my mouth again...what does the legal definition of consent stand for, here? Is it merely stating to all parties that you're gonna record this, or do you need an agreement for all parties in order to record?

  • Img_0103_max50

    LAWMANTUKES

    over 3 years ago

    6950 Comments

    BIG TIME "BUMP" !!!!!.."theshieldman2000"

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    MRTROLL

    over 3 years ago

    6 Comments

    Yes, and thats why it's absurd. Why is it that you have no expectation of privacy in public everywhere but a few states. Also, why is it you have no privacy via video, but yet you do when audio is concerned, in a public place. Even more, why is the law being selectively enforced when it captures something negative, and not when positive? News crews aren't being arrested when they record audio along with the video, when filming the aftermath of incidents. Many security cameras at liquor stores, banks and restaurants capture video AND audio of areas considered "public property", and yet when they capture an officer, the owners do not face a felony.

    Do you understand the story?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    MRTROLL

    over 3 years ago

    6 Comments

    lol, only picked that name after being called that by shieldman , it was a poor attempt at sarcastic humor, figured that would've been picked up on...

    I agree about the no tampering as well, full account should be handed over and tampered clips (which are not that hard to detect) should warrant punishment as well, but outright banning, and even worse, charging a felony, over videotaping police interactions, where the person filming is in no way interfering is just wrong.

    Take Anthony Graber, who was arrested 10 days after his initial stop, and only after the video was posted on youtube, and embarrassed the department.

    For those in agreement with this law, how do you feel about security cameras, or redlight cameras, or corner police box cameras, or the news for that matter. There are cameras everywhere, the problem is these cases are only targeting individuals who catch officers in either embarrassing situations or even worse, caught doing something wrong.

    Again, let me reiterate for the few Flamers here. I have nothing against the majority of LEOs who actualy do their job well, it's the few who hide behind the protection of buddies and absurd laws that I have something against. Any honest cop I've questioned about this in my neighborhood has no issue being filmed.

    As stated by an officer I spoke with on my way home today...

    "Why would I care if you filmed me, I'm not doing anything wrong" P. Gomez, CPD

  • P1010076_max50

    Alexander_Ott

    over 3 years ago

    572 Comments

    What Retleo said is something agreeable. Can't tamper with the video to put a biased PoV out (as with the four female jaywalkers a while ago,) plus, you don't have a cellphone camera in your face.

    It's hard to take someone with the name "MRTROLL" seriously, to be honest.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    MRTROLL

    over 3 years ago

    6 Comments

    "However, being "so well educated" have you ever thought an officer realizing he/she is being videotaped (for whatever reasons) might find this as a distraction and hender him/her in noticing a weapon or vital piece of evidence that the subject, or subjects may have in their posession?"

    And how exactly is someone standing across the street (which is often the case during many police encounters) holding a video camera hindering.. maybe it's that little voice saying "I could get caught"

    but come on, I'm not saying the guy getting arrested should be able to whip out a camera, but a bystander being charged with a felony (and only in cases where the officer is shown to be doing something illegal, never when an officer is actually helping.. double standard here)

    This place is cracking me up, but whatever, you can't have a rational conversation, or your point gets shot down, and you go whine to the mod to delete...

    AGAIN, I'm not saying all police are bad, most are upstanding and just doing their jobs. However, there are many (just like all humans) who only use their position to get away with what they want. You wanna feel all bad about that whatever. There's nothing you can do but complain to a board of those already on your side, and beg for the mod to come in yet another time to stop what took mere seconds.. peace

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    theshieldman2000

    over 3 years ago

    578 Comments

    "An officer being scared of videotaping, is an officer afraid of getting caught doing something illegal, end of story. If you're are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. I have no hatred for LEO's in general, just the lazy crooked ones here in chicago. You cant take that, well I could care less. Delete this post if you want to make yourself feel better."
    Well MR. TROLL, videotape me all you want. However, being "so well educated" have you ever thought an officer realizing he/she is being videotaped (for whatever reasons) might find this as a distraction and hender him/her in noticing a weapon or vital piece of evidence that the subject, or subjects may have in their posession? If you are actually exmilitary, I weep for the armed forces. You talk of lazy, crooked officers,yet all you can do to change this "observance" of yours is to troll a website and talk trash. Who's the lazy bastard now? If you were really sincere in changing how some officers MAY be, thne pick up an application, and show us officers how its done. That is, if you have the morale capability...which I doubt!

  • Img_0103_max50

    LAWMANTUKES

    over 3 years ago

    6950 Comments

    "Bump"..BrooklynHillsCop...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    armadillo87

    over 3 years ago

    10 Comments

    I gotta agree. If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide. threatening to ban someone for their opinions...I've heard that being done befor...was it stalin? Anyway cops doing illegal activity needs to be reported. Thats why cops are given the position of trust. If they violate that trust they the American people deserve justice and crooked officers punishment.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Samurai6

    over 3 years ago

    4 Comments

    Clobster, I partially agree with you. I'm not sure why you would consider youtube another "bs" site. I understand the concern about altered videos being uploaded to the web, but that's about it. As long as videos are not tampered with, I don't see a problem with uploading them to popular social networks like youtube or facebook for instance. I believe the world has a right to the truth.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Silent_Observer

    over 3 years ago

    446 Comments

    I hate to say it, but I'm with the ACLU on this one. The only thing an audio recording can do is keep everybody honest. It can't hurt anybody but the guilty. It really doesn't matter who is recording. If an officer on duty interacting with the public objects to being recorded, that says something, and not something good. If I'm missing something here feel free to clue me in, but in most states, citizens are free to record police interactions, the handful of officers I've known over the years never cared about being recorded (they said live like your always being recorded and you'll be a better person for it), and I really think that is how it should be.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    over 3 years ago

    10918 Comments

    With in-car cameras in virtually every cruiser nowadays( which have proven officers to be acting properly far more often than not !! ), I don't see this being an issue for anyone but the ACLU. For the record, the ACLU is not American, civil or interested in liberty !!!!!

  • Img_0103_max50

    LAWMANTUKES

    over 3 years ago

    6950 Comments

    Is there anything that these Ba$tards won't challenge..??????!!!!@#@#$$%$$%&*(*&^%%$$#$%%??>"_++)(>>!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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