Illinois Eavesdropping Law Enforced in DuPage County
Last month, Malia K. “Kim” Bendis, president of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group, was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors’, attempted eavesdropping and resisting a peace officer, and is the most recent arrest for violation of Illinois Eavesdropping Law following of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the 50-year-old anti-eavesdropping law in Illinois violates constitutional protections of free speech. More specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling from earlier last year where the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the law violates the First Amendment when, “used against those who record police officers doing their jobs in public.” Furthermore, it was reported that the ability of citizens to record audio and video of interactions with law enforcement helps guard against police abuse.
When asked his thoughts on the issue of what is considered one of the toughest eavesdropping laws of its kind in the country, Walter Mitchell Jr., a local truck driver and citizen journalist commented, “The eavesdropping law in and of itself is a bit flawed in my opinion.” Referencing Cook County Attorney General Anita Alvarez, Mitchell further stated, “The way it’s been perverted by Anita Alvarez to deny the citizens of Illinois the right to protect themselves against abusive police officers is criminal and tyrannical”
According to a news report written by Michael Tarm, the law’s proponents, including Alvarez, have been arguing that the law protects the privacy rights of officers and civilians while also ensuring non-law enforcement personnel wielding recording devices don’t interfere with urgent police work.
Regardless of the opinion of those that fought to overturn the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, another lower court judge granted a permanent injunction to the ACLU, allowing them to be able to record law enforcement officials in public without fear of arrest on December 24, 2012, just a little over a month prior to Kim Bendis’ arrest and ending a two-year legal battle in which Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez did all she could to keep the law, which as a Class 1 Felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, alive.
As for Bendis, she is currently free on bond pending arraignment.