Illinois Judge Dismisses Charges Against Michael Allison

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Allison, who I first wrote about here, was facing up to 75 years in prison for recording public officials with a digital recorder. Those charges have been dismissed.

“A statute intended to prevent unwarranted intrusions into a citizen’s privacy cannot be used as a shield for public officials who cannot assert a comparable right of privacy in their public duties,” the judge wrote in his decision dismissing the five counts of eavesdropping charges against defendant Michael Allison.

“Such action impedes the free flow of information concerning public officials and violates the First Amendment right to gather such information,” he wrote….

In Thursday’s ruling, Circuit Court Judge David Frankland said that Allison had a First Amendment right to record the police officers and court employees.

The judge also ruled that while it was reasonable to prohibit the defendant from recording in the courtroom, making what Allison did a felony offense was overreaching and irrational.

“The statute [as it is currently written] includes conduct that is unrelated to the statute’s purpose and is not rationally related to the evil the legislation sought to prohibit,” the judge wrote in his opinion. “For example, a defendant recording his case in a courtroom has nothing to do with an intrusion into a citizen’s privacy but with distraction.”

Although some civil rights activists call the decision a small victory, the Illinois eavesdropping law is still in effect.

Great news. And kudos to Allison for refusing to take a plea in the case. I’m not exactly sure where things go from here. I’ll report more on this next week.

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24 Responses to “Illinois Judge Dismisses Charges Against Michael Allison”

  1. #1 |  John P. | 

    GOOD NEWS!!!

    Now this guy needs to sue the shit out of the cops who arrested him!!!

  2. #2 |  Ginger | 

    Definitely good news!

    Side note: the links in the first paragraph both lead to the same article.

  3. #3 |  Bob | 


    From what I understand of the law, while this doesn’t modify the wording of this particular law per se, it establishes precedent that can work to prevent this law from being used as a shield by public officials in the future.

    I.E. It narrows the scope of Illinois’ “Wire Tapping Act”.

    Lawyer types… is that accurate?

  4. #4 |  EH | 

    I think some crank calls to the DA & police union are in order

  5. #5 |  c andrew | 

    Radley Wrote:

    Great news. And kudos to Allison for refusing to take a plea in the case. I’m not exactly sure where things go from here.

    I have this vain and desperate hope that he will sue their asses off.

  6. #6 |  Rojo | 

    As Ginger noted above, unless Radley Balko also moonlights as Kirsten Berg, than I think the “who I first wrote about here” link is incorrect.

  7. #7 |  Whim | 

    Want to know two very good reasons to stay out of Illinois:

    #1 Lisa Madigan, the State Attorney General of Illinois, is also the daughter of #2, Speaker of the House Democrat Michael Madigan.

    He is in his 40th year as a lawmaker and 26th as House speaker. Is that what we in the hinterlands would call a career politician.

    How much do you want to bet that Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan appeals this judge’s decision.

    After all, the police are part of the Democrat Machine’s Power Base.

    The State Attorney General. The Legislature. The Mayor of Chicago. The Police. (Most) of the judges.

    Get it?

  8. #8 |  James Pricer | 

    Good work!

  9. #9 |  David | 

    Rojo: I’m pretty sure that link scans as “this is the first article I wrote about her”, not “this is where I was the first human being to write about her”.

  10. #10 |  Pablo | 

    Perhaps the most outragous part of the whole story is that the judge refused to allow the proceedings to be recorded. WTF? Im a lawyer and ALWAYS make sure everything is on the record if a client is contesting a charge. “If its not on the record it didn’t happen.” It’s the only way to hold judges and prosecutors accountable for what they do in court.

  11. #11 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    I’m wondering the same thing as Bob, is this decision ‘big’ enough to set precedent?

  12. #12 |  Rojo | 

    @David That would be fine, if the link was to an article Radley wrote about her. It’s not, it’s to the same article discussing the dismissal of the charges.

    Minor blogging mistake, but still a mistake worth pointing out.

  13. #13 |  HONORYOUROATH | 

    “I’m not exactly sure where things go from here” [Radly Balko]

    We need to organize and push for legislation that liberates the citizens right to photo,audio,and video public officials (including law enforcement) in the discharge of their duties while severely restricting the governments ability to spy on us.
    What do you think?

  14. #14 |  EH | 

    Minor blogging mistake, but still a mistake worth pointing out.

    And really, what minor mistake *isn’t* worth pointing out?

  15. #15 |  Medicine Man | 

    They were trying to stick her with 75 years? How is that anything other than an attempt at coercion?

  16. #16 |  Rojo | 

    @EH I’m not sure if you’re accusing me of being a nitpicker (in order to presumably undermine Radley?) or you agree with your statement or what, but I thought Radley might want to fix that link so readers could go read the article that he wrote that he was presumably pointing to.

    Typos I would have ignored, because they don’t usually take away from the meaning. Links that don’t go where the author intended them to, I point out.

    I always appreciated such editing function from commenters when I was blogging regularly, I thought Radley might too.

  17. #17 |  Kristen | 

    I hope this can be used as precedent, but my guess is that it will have to be tested before the Supremes (as in U.S. Supremes, not Illinois) before it would really take hold. Which means it’ll take more arrests and more prosecutions before Illinois officials finally get it through their thick, corrupt skulls.

  18. #18 |  William E Kruse, Esq. | 

    Court opinions are only binding precedent the court issuing the decision and on lower courts. However, this case will be cited as a “persuasive” opinion in other Illinois circuit courts going forward. If this is appealed, and an Illinois appellate court concurs with the trial judge’s opinion, than that opinion will be binding on all trial level courts under that appellate court’s jurisdiction.

    For now, this opinion is only binding on the second judicial circuit.

  19. #19 |  Eddie H | 

    Any links to an actual copy of the decision? We need more like this.

  20. #20 |  Parallax View | 

    I’ve been following this case for a while, and Allison needs all the support
    he can get. I suggest that anyone really behind this will join their state ACLU and contribute MONEY to the effort..Like the old saying ” Money Talks and Bullshit Walks ”

    John Cokos-Mew Jersey

  21. #21 |  NAME REDACTED | 

    Were they dismissed with prejudice?

  22. #22 |  amorro | 

    I’ll amazed at the bias shown by Chicago Press in reporting cases about Illinois Eavesdropp­ing Law. In Cook County there were three Eavesdropp­ing Cases: People v. Moore, People v. Drew and People v. Melongo. In the first case, the jury acquitted the defendant. In the last two cases, there are pending motions to dismiss. However, the Chicago Press has completely ignored the Melongo’s case and focused all its attention on the Drew’s case. Melongo recorded conversati­ons with Pamela Taylor for an allegedly altered court transcript­. Mrs. Taylor is a public official working at the criminal located at 2600th California Ave. Melongo has spent 22 months in jail for this offense, is currently out on house arrest, yet the local press in all of its many articles, has completely ignored the Melongo’s case. Why? Maybe there’s a great bias in the press against police to the extend that it has turned a blind eye on the integrity of reporting the news. If it wants to report news related to the Eavesdropp­ing Law, then by all means, it should report ALL of it; I’m extremely shocked at what’s happening here.

    Melongo’s Motion to dismiss: http://www­­m/doc/8109­6353/Amend­ed-Motion-­To-Dismiss­-Illinois-­Eavesdropp­ing-Case

    State response’s to Melongo’s motion: http://www­­m/doc/8175­0317/State­-Response-­Amended-Mo­tion

    Melongo’s arguments on her motion to dismiss will be heard on March 13th, 2012. The presiding judge is Goebel.

    That’s what mean being impartial. Tell the ENTIRE story. Not just a snippet of it.

  23. #23 |  Jeff Wilkins | 

    Finally a great judge!!! I am shocked!! Good job Judge David Frankland you give me some faith in our government. Now how about get rid of this Tom Wiseman clown? And the state attorney general?

  24. #24 |  amorro | 

    Melongo’s Eavesdropping Case Dismissed: Another Blow To Illinois Eavesdropping Law

    Upon the defendant’s motion[1], Judge Goebel filed his written order[2] dismissing Melongo’s eavesdropping case on June 19th, 2012. The state hasn’t decided if it will appeal.
    Melongo’s motion :
    State’s response: