“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.