In August 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed a lawsuit arguing that civilians have a right protected by the First Amendment to make audio recordings of on-duty police officers. The plaintiff in the lawsuit is the ACLU of Illinois as an organization, because we want to audio record police as part of our on-going police monitoring and advocacy. Specifically, the ACLU of Illinois challenged the use of Illinois Eavesdropping Act to prosecute individuals who record police conversations with civilians that take place in public, while police are performing their duties, and when those conversations are audible to the human ear. The ACLU contends that such prosecutions unlawfully preclude individuals - and organizations such as the ACLU of Illinois - from being able to record police interactions on public streets and thoroughfares and disseminate that information to policy makers in order to address specific policy concerns.
In a decision issued on October 28, U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne Conlon dismissed the complaint on grounds of standing, holding that the ACLU could not pursue the case since it had not been threatened with prosecution. The court also dismissed the suit without prejudice. The court did not address the first amendment merits of our suit.
On November 18th, the ACLU of Illinois filed a motion asking Judge Conlon to reinstate the lawsuit, and to allow us to file an amended complaint, so that we can move forward to the substantive questions we raise about the eavesdropping law. The filing adds new allegations to support the ACLU's standing, including adding our executive director and senior field manager as additional plaintiffs.
We look forward to pursuing the matter to a successful conclusion.