Tiawanda Moore Acquitted

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

A Chicago jury has acquitted Tiawanda Moore of felony eavesdropping.

This is of course great news for Moore. Her attorney claims she was protected under an exception to the eavesdropping law that allows someone to record evidence of what she believes to be a crime. I don’t know if trying to persuade someone not to file a police complaint is a crime. But the jury either bought that argument, or this was a case of jury nullification. I kinda’ hope it was the latter.

Of course, this also means that the Moore won’t be the one to challenge the law to have it overturned. Which means that unless someone like Christopher Drew or Michael Allison are convicted, Illinois police will still be able to use the law to intimidate and arrest anyone who attempts to record them.

One other thing. It’s a little odd that most media accounts of this case describe Moore as a “former stripper.” It’s actually the first three words in the Sun Times story. Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s hard to envision the article starting that way if Moore were a former nanny. Or school teacher. Or bus driver. So what’s the point? Even if Moore’s sexual assault allegation was the only newsworthy part of this story, the implication is that her former job is relevant to her allegation. Is the implication that strippers probably act provocatively even when they aren’t working—-indeed, even when they aren’t strippers anymore—and thus should expect unwanted sexual advances from cops? Is it that strippers are inherently untrustworthy? That they’re more likely to make false allegations of sexual assault? (If anything, I would suspect that strippers have built up a fair amount of tolerance for unwanted advances.)

But that of course isn’t why this story is in the news. It’s in the news because Moore became frustrated in her attempt to file a complaint, and so recorded what she thought were Chicago police officers’ attempts to rebuff her, and was consequently facing a felony charge and up to 15 years in prison. The validity of the allegation that set all of that into motion isn’t really at issue. (Indeed, the resolution of Moore’s complaint is apparently “sealed.” Which is a problem in and of itself.) So even if you buy into the fairly offensive notion that Moore’s former occupation calls her harassment allegation into doubt, the “former stripper” label is completely irrelevant to whether or not she should have been arrested and charged for recording the cops.

It does, however, give Chicago PD defenders a reason to trash her in the comments section.

My HuffPost story on Moore and the Illinois law here.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

47 Responses to “Tiawanda Moore Acquitted”

  1. #1 |  CyniCAl | 

    How ironic that media whores would defame a former stripper.

  2. #2 |  JS | 

    “It’s in the news because Moore became frustrated in her attempt to file a complaint, and so recorded what she thought were Chicago police officers’ attempts to rebuff her, and was consequently facing a felony charge and up to 15 years in prison.”

    Of course. Her real crime is in attempting to hold the government accountable for their actions. Transparency, honesty, openness and all that don’t you know.

  3. #3 |  celticdragonchick | 

    There are a couple of people in the commenst section (Paddy O’Reilly in particular) who need a serious attitude adjustment. Fortunately, they are being called out.

  4. #4 |  nicole | 

    I will not read the comments. I will not read the comments. I will not read the comments.

    This is great news, though it’s also very frustrating to lose an opportunity to get this law off the books, since this isn’t the first time that’s happened. Let’s say I’m not totally unhappy to be a Chicagoan tonight, at least.

  5. #5 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    I trust strippers more than cops. At least the stripper renders a service in exchange for a fee.

  6. #6 |  Debi | 

    Thank you so, so much for bringing up the issue with Moore’s previous occupation being reported and, essentially, used to question her integrity or to excuse the assault upon her or the treatment she later received from the police. This treatment of women is an ongoing problem in the media and in our society, and it concerns me. I appreciate that you brought it to everyone’s attention so that we can see it for what it is, rather than judge Moore from the first sentence of the article.

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Yeah, unfortunately the mention of her past occupation is probably an attempt to impugn her social stature, but I interpret it to mean that, unlike the cops, she comes from a background with some integrity.

  8. #8 |  Anon for this comment | 

    Honestly, I think it’s more about the fact that she filed a complaint based on sexual harassment. I think the insinuation is to discredit that by saying that’s she’s a stripper and she either must be used to such behavior or was somehow asking for it.

    Everyone wants to believe in the Just World.

  9. #9 |  Kind Bud | 

    Thank you, Radley

  10. #10 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    “It does, however, give Chicago PD defenders a reason to trash her in the comments section.”

    Don’t mince words, Radley. You’re talking about power-worshipping bootlickers who would line up for jobs manning the ovens for the Fourth Reich.

  11. #11 |  Gordon | 

    Yes, I’m sure part of the reason for giving prominence to her former profession is to attempt to discredit her.

    But I suspect that an even larger part is simply pandering to the prurient interest. Sex sells, so the media play up that angle for everything they can.

    Ever notice how the very same media whose usual content is increasingly sexually-charged turn right around and play at being scandalized by the latest celebrity sex video or “provocative” photos (See the shocking photos on page 56!)

    That’s how cynical they are — they’re constantly using sex as bait while simultaneously pretending that it’s “dirty” or “scandalous”.

  12. #12 |  FridayNext | 

    As an aside, the Chicago Trib article didn’t mention her former profession once.

    Credit where it’s due.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-eavesdropping-trial-0825-20110825,0,905958.story

  13. #13 |  jdbarnes | 

    As ridiculous as Ms. Hussain’s irrelevant stripper reference is, her comma usage is just as bad. Punctuation is a rotting art.

    The digital era has created all manner of legal and policing issues wrt the practice of recording, whether the legality of recording conversations or minors sexting each other on their cell phones. I’d be interested in seeing where things end up legally and socially 50 years from now. May we all live in interesting times, etc.

  14. #14 |  djm | 

    From the comments, I was pleasantly surprised. The highest rated are all critical of the cops and prosecutors. And the two actually backing the cops (commenters tyroneb and paddy ian), are not only voted down, but their arguments are so rote and unimaginative that I wonder if it’s simply a successful troll effort.

  15. #15 |  Brooks | 

    Radley, I would comment at HuffPo if the comments were not closed.

    You have some ‘splainin to do.

    Where are you getting this idea that somebody will necessarily need to be convicted under this law before its constitutionality can be challenged? That’s just plain false, and in fact the law has been challenged a couple times now.

    Most notably, oral argument is set in the 7th Circuit on September 13th for ACLU v. Alvarez, a case that challenges the law on 1st Amendment grounds. The case specifically cites the Moore and Drew prosecutions as evidence, as well as 9 others.

    Let me repeat: Argument in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set for less than 3 weeks from now regarding the constitutionality of this very law.

    I am a huge fan, and you are usually good on the law, but you missed the boat on this one. If you would like to sanity-check your writing regarding legal procedure in the future, you are welcome to email me.

    (also your story mentions Patrick Johnson and the dismissal of his charges from 2004, but fails to note that the city of Champaign caved and settled when Johnson and his partner sued for civil rights violations. Champaign wins that suit on qualified immunity grounds if their officers reasonably believed that the law was constitutional. Yet the city settled. That’s saying something.)

  16. #16 |  marta | 

    well, some of us would argue that sexism, or patriarchy, whatever you want to call it, is systemic and structural and intended to keep women as a group from exercising their full autonomy, liberty, whatever you want to call it. and that sexual violence is what fuels the machine. and that it’s ubiquitous, like the air we breath….

  17. #17 |  Whim | 

    A former stripper audio recorded two current pimping police prostitutes who were pressuring her to their utmost to discourage her from filing an official complaint.

    And, she’s the one that is prosecuted?

  18. #18 |  John C. Randolph | 

    I’ve never heard of a stripper shooting someone in the back while they were on the ground and then claiming that she’d thought she was grabbing her taser. Also, I’ve never heard of strippers kicking in the wrong door in a botched war on drugs raid.

    -jcr

  19. #19 |  JS | 

    John C. Randolph “I’ve never heard of a stripper shooting someone in the back while they were on the ground and then claiming that she’d thought she was grabbing her taser. Also, I’ve never heard of strippers kicking in the wrong door in a botched war on drugs raid.”

    That would be a pretty awesome TV show though.

  20. #20 |  Pablo | 

    I too thought it was highly offensive, not just odd, that the articles linked here STARTED OFF in the first sentence with the “former stripper” bit.

    I think one could make a very good argument that attempting to stop someone from filing a complaint against a police officer would constitute obstruction of justice.

    This is great news. So far in my life I have managed to avoid going to Chicago, and the entire state of Illinois for that matter. I plan to keep up that track record.

  21. #21 |  SamK | 

    I’ve…*cough*…known more than a couple of strippers in my lifetime…ex-wife’s best friend, good friend’s wife, about a dozen just friend chica’s…hang out with them a while and you’ll realize that there’s an incredibly diverse set of women that do that job including some incredibly stable and intelligent young ladies who realize it’s simply the best pay they’ll ever make. That said, the “crazy bitch” quotient is way higher in the stripper world.

    I doubt that has much to do with why she was called out, it was likely a shaming, but eh…’s my 2c. The charges and accusations on all sides have precisely squat to do with her previous employment.

  22. #22 |  Harry Lime | 

    The comments to the Chicago Tribune article were much better. I was seeing about 85% of the comments there critical of the police and the Cook County State Attorney’s Office. I liked this one: “Jury nullification was made for cases like this.”

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-eavesdropping-trial-0825-20110825,0,905958.story

  23. #23 |  Dante | 

    Interesting to note that the media tried to discredit Ms. Moore due to her (past) occupation, while no attempt was made to discredit the police – whose current occupation ranks well below “Used Car Salesman” or “Child Molester” in credibility and trustworthiness.

    Bottom Line: The public cannot ever trust the police. Never. They are less trustworthy than strippers, less honest than used care salesman, more dangerous than a psych ward escapee.

    And judges take their word in court over anyone else’s, even when they are obviously lying. This is no longer justice. It is systemic corruption. The criminal justice system no longer dispenses any justice because all of it’s employees are criminals.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  24. #24 |  Mannie | 

    Good news from the Criminal State of Ill Annoy.

  25. #25 |  Pablo | 

    #21 Harry thanks for the link. That Chicago Tribune article was fair and accurate.

    Note that her original complaint against the responding officer was considered “open.” So in all this time they can arrest her, charge her with a felony, and go to trial, but a simple compaint against a cop, which started the whole mess, still has not been resolved.

    Thank God for jury nullification.

  26. #26 |  Randy | 

    One of the comments from the link—

    Just a common street ho lookin’ for some freebies. Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’. She’ll continue on with her scuzzy existence and everything in her dead-end life will be as fruitless as it’s always been, and always will be. Who really cares??

    My guess if that if Tiawanda were a librarian, this comment would have looked a lot different.

    This post is illustrative of an all too common attitude found in our country. For many people, a person living a life outside Judeo-Christian norms automatically puts them in a class of people that deserve no consideration in anything, ever. In their minds, sinners should always come out holding the short end of the stick, even if they’ve been wronged by someone in some way that may have nothing to do with their ‘sinning ways’.

    Sad really.

  27. #27 |  Radley Balko | 

    Where are you getting this idea that somebody will necessarily need to be convicted under this law before its constitutionality can be challenged? That’s just plain false, and in fact the law has been challenged a couple times now.

    I’ve talked to the people at the ACLU who are bringing that challenge. The current version of the suit has gotten as far as it has because the ACLU brought in people who were charged under the law then pleaded to a lesser offense, or like Moore and Drew who (at the time the suit was filed) were facing felony charges. When the ACLU tried to challenge the law without bringing in anyone who had actually been charged or convicted under it, the suit was thrown out for lack of standing.

    If you would like to sanity-check your writing regarding legal procedure in the future, you are welcome to email me.

    Thanks, but I’ll stick with consulting with the people who are actually challenging the law.

  28. #28 |  Andrew S. | 

    Radley is correct on the standing issue, Brooks.

    And this quote from the Chicago Tribune article makes me believe that it just might have been jury nullification:

    “The two cops came across as intimidating and insensitive,” said one juror, Ray Adams, 57, a pharmacist from the western suburbs. “Everybody thought it was just a waste of time and that (Moore) never should have been charged.”

  29. #29 |  JS | 

    Hey does anyone know where I can find an article about that ruling where the cops can bust in your house if they hear the toilet flushing or something?

  30. #30 |  Just Plain Brian | 

    Hey does anyone know where I can find an article about that ruling where the cops can bust in your house if they hear the toilet flushing or something?

    I don’t know about any reputable news sources, but here’s an article about it from The New York Times.

  31. #31 |  JS | 

    Thanks Brian!

  32. #32 |  Russ 2000 | 

    It’s basically the last gasp for the Sun-Times, that newspaper will be out of business in 3 years. They think being more provocative will save them but it actually makes them look more desperate. If the paper were free it might work, but the number of people willing to drop 75 cents for such desperation falls every week.

  33. #33 |  Brooks | 

    “Thanks, but I’ll stick with consulting with the people who are actually challenging the law.”

    I point out that you were wrong when you wrote that the law can’t be challenged until somebody is convicted under it.

    You respond in part by acknowledging that the law is being challenged, despite that nobody has been convicted under it, and then you’re rude.

    How difficult is it to say, “You’re right. I was sloppy when I wrote that. I have actually talked to the folks at the ACLU challenging the law, and they are trying to overcome their standing issue by including people who had been charged (but not convicted) under the law. I should have known better than to say the law cannot be challenged until somebody has been convicted.”

    The “sanity check” I offered is not deep legal analysis or anything. It’s “does this pass the smell test?” You don’t need to work for the ACLU to recognize that a legal idea stinks. You apparently did talk to some folks from the ACLU and ended up wrong anyways. Not their fault, I’m sure.

  34. #34 |  croaker | 

    Waste of time, waste of tax money, and the real criminals are still out there with badges, guns, and a fascist attitude.

    This is why people start to talk about shallow holes and bags of lime.

  35. #35 |  Andrew S. | 

    Brooks, you’re wrong.

    Yes, it’s true that you don’t have to be *convicted* to challenge the law. But you do either need to be (a) actively prosecuted (whether it’s a non-adjudicated prosecution or a conviction under appeal) or (b) be in imminent, real danger of being prosecuted under the law. Once Ms. Moore was acquitted, she no longer met either prong, and therefore she no longer has standing under the law to challenge the law.

    I’ve seen several cases where a prosecutor has dropped a case against a defendant in order to avoid such defendant’s attempt to challenge the law.

    This isn’t even something I’d need to talk to the ACLU lawyers about. This is something that any lawyer learned in a 1L Civil Procedure course.

  36. #36 |  Police Accountability Report - Episode 37 | Cop Block | 

    […] Tiawanda Moore Acquitted (of Felony Wiretapping/Eavesdropping) […]

  37. #37 |  Laura Victoria | 

    And here’s a brand new case today – a twofer, in fact. Cops in Martha’s Vineyard apparently “deflated” (metaphorically or literally is unclear) an inflatable rat inflated to inflame Obama and his supporters. Then, besides busting the people using the inflatable “rat,” they busted the person who videotaped the police/protester encounter under the wiretapping law. MA is one of the handfull of states with this illegal “law.” Here’s the link. http://dailycaller.com/2011/08/25/cops-deflate-obama-protesters-plan-to-display-inflatable-rat-on-martha%E2%80%99s-vineyard/

  38. #38 |  Beniamino | 

    @ Andrew S. # 35

    But Tiawanda Moore could still challenge the law at this point by manner of a Section 1983 suit, right? It seems like a court entertaining such a suit would necessarily be addressing the constitutionality of the statute.

  39. #39 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    I wish mentioning a sex worker’s profession in a story which has nothing to do with that profession was unusual, but it isn’t. If one has ever been a sex worker of any kind – stripper, prostitute, porn actress or whatever – and that information is a matter of public record, one can be virtually certain that any future public mention of one’s name will include “former stripper”, “former hooker” or whatever.

    And people wonder why sex worker rights activists oppose legalization schemes which include licensing; if a prostitute’s real name was a matter of public record in a license bureau, she could face stigma literally for the rest of her life.

  40. #40 |  Police Accountability Report – Episode 37 | ANOMALY RADIO | 

    […] Tiawanda Moore Acquitted (of Felony Wiretapping/Eavesdropping) […]

  41. #41 |  Brooks | 

    Andrew S.

    You tell me I am wrong and then immediately concede the sole point I was making. That is just silly.

    I say “nobody needs to be convicted before the law is challenged.”

    You say “You’re wrong. Yes, it’s true that you don’t have to be *convicted* to challenge the law.”

    Holy disconnect, Batman.

    Anyhoo, I would like to apologize for being rude to Radley earlier. Frankly, I owe a great deal of my political identity and even worldview to this blog, and it was silly of me to try to call him out. I should have realized and appreciated that his writings are by necessity limited in length and so that although he has done his research, he may not have room to explain legal nuance.

  42. #42 |  BoogaFrito | 

    Mentioning her former occupation might not totally be an attempt at discreditation. I would imagine seeing the words “former stripper” has an ability to grab the attention of people who might not otherwise give the article a second glance.

    In other words, it might be more of a marketing “sex sells” thing.

  43. #43 |  Zargon | 

    Brooks:

    My takeaway from your first comment was that Moore could still challenge the law. Now, you’ve since clarified your position, but don’t get annoyed when people read your comment, rather than your mind.

    “The case specifically cites the Moore and Drew prosecutions as evidence”

    When people tell you you’re wrong and then agree with the point you thought you were making, that’s a sign that perhaps you weren’t as clear as you could have been.

  44. #44 |  Dana Gower | 

    #39

    I always got a kick out of it that when Harry Connick Jr. married fashion model Jill Goodacre, who had modeled for Victoria’s Secret, every announcement about the wedding referred to her as “former underwear model.”

  45. #45 |  An acquital – but not justice – for Tiawanda Moore - Newstips by Curtis Black | 

    […] Balko at The Agitator argues that Moore’s occupation had no relevance to the story, and Spatz’s colleague […]

  46. #46 |  The 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year Award | The Agitator | 

    […] what appears to be a laudable act of jury nullification, Moore was acquitted in August. Alvarez is still pushing on with another felony wiretapping charge against Chicago artist […]

  47. #47 |  Chicago PD Wiretaps Journalists, Charges Highlight Inconsistency Of Privacy Cases | 

    […] arrested and charged with a felony for taping a conversation with an internal affairs investigator. Tiawanda Moore was allegedly groped by an officer when she was being questioned regarding a domestic disturbance […]

Leave a Reply