High Court Refuses to Hear Illinois' Eavesdropping Case

Nov 27, 2012

Cook County State’s attorney Anita Alvarez says she’s disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a petition she filed on citizens recording police officers. An appeals court decision earlier this year found Illinois’ Eavesdropping statute unconstitutional.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez
Credit Cook County State's Attorney

The eavesdropping law prohibits citizens from recording people in public without their consent, but that means recording audio of a police officer doing their job could land a person in jail.

And that was a problem for the ACLU, which wanted to start a police monitoring project by recording video and audio of officers carrying out their duties in public places.

But Alvarez asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue saying public officials like police officers, and even regular citizens, they often have private conversations in public places, where much of life is lived.

And Alvarez argued that people shouldn’t have to worry that their private conversations will be recorded and broadcast just because they take place in public.

Now that the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case, the law will go back to the federal district court in Chicago for further review.

Illinois Public Radio's Robert Wildeboer contributed to this report