Privacy Law

15 Years for Recording a Talk with Cops? Woman Avoids Prison with Acquittal

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A woman charged under Illinois’ obscure eavesdropping law for secretly recording her conversation with two Chicago cops has been acquitted.

Jurors acquitted Tiawanda Moore after deliberating less than an hour, the Chicago Tribune reports. She was charged under an Illinois law that bars the recording of public conversations without permission; potential penalties increase to 15 years in prison when cops are secretly recorded. Only a few states have similar laws.

Moore recorded her conversation with two officers from the police department’s internal investigations unit because she believed they were trying to talk her into dropping a sexual harassment complaint against a patrol officer, the story says. Juror Ray Adams told the Tribune that he and other jurors thought the prosecution was “just a waste of time” and the officers “came across as intimidating and insensitive.”

Moore’s defense relied on an exception that allows recordings based on a reasonable suspicion a crime may be committed.

The ACLU filed a suit last year arguing that the law cannot be constitutionally applied to individuals who record police performing public duties in a public place, according to the ACLU of Illinois website. An appeal pending before the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeks to reinstate the suit after a federal judge dismissed it. The case is ACLU v. Alvarez.

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