Thursday, August 25, 2011

Woman Acquitted On Charges She Recorded Chicago Cops

I mentioned this case earlier in a discussion of an Illinois eavesdropping law that makes it illegal to record a conversation without the consent of both parties. An Indiana woman was charged with a felony for violating the statute when she recorded a conversation she was having with Chicago police officers who were attempting to convince her not to file a sexual harassment complaint against an officer. Tiawanda Moore claimed that a police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call at her boyfriend's home began fondling her and attempted to give his phone number to her. When internal affairs investigators questioning her about her complaint against the officer discovered she was recording their conversation on her Blackberry, they charged her with felony eavesdropping. Unbelievably, the Cook Co. State's Attorney prosecuted the case, but a jury acquitted her of the charges. The Sun-Times reports on her acquittal:

A former stripper, who secretly recorded two Chicago Police Internal Affairs investigators while filing a sexual harassment complaint against another officer was acquitted on eavesdropping charges Wednesday.
“I’m feeling a lot better now,” a smiling Tiawanda Moore said after a Cook County jury returned the verdict in a little over an hour.
The 20-year-old Indiana woman admitted she taped the officers on her Blackberry in August of last year. But she said she only did it because the investigators were coaxing her to not go forward with her complaint.
“I wanted him to be fired,” Moore testified of the cop she alleges fondled her and gave her his phone number during a domestic battery call at the South Side residence she sometimes shares with her boyfriend.
Moore said she didn’t know about the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which prohibits the recording of private or public conversations without the consent of all parties. Even so, Moore’s attorney, Robert Johnson, said his client was protected under an exemption to the statute that allows such recordings if someone believes a crime is being committed or is about to be committed.
The Internal Affairs officers were “stalling, intimidating and bullying her,” Johnson said. The recording, which was played in court during the one-day trial, proved it, Johnson said.
Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Jo Murtaugh told jurors, “The content of the tape is not the issue. The issue is that the words were taped.”
But Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the verdict “reflects a repudiation of the eavesdropping law in Illinois. Clearly, the public believes that individuals should be able to record police engaged in their public duties, in a public space in an audible voice.”

The findings of the internal affairs investigation Moore filed against the police office are under seal according to the Sun-Times. The ACLU is challenging the constitutionality of Illinois' eavesdropping law in a federal court on First Amendment grounds.

3 comments:

Cato said...

Why didn't the judge bounce the case as a matter of law, as the words uttered by public employees are public record, and the public may do as it wants with its records?

How did this case not get dismissed? It is increasingly difficult to see judges as anything but adjunct prosecutors.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Each of those jurors deserve a slap on the back, a big hug.

Indy4u2c said...

There is no legitimate expectation of privacy that one you have conversation with will not discolose the conversation to another person. People talk about conversations all the time.

The Illinois law should be repealed.

I'm glad justice is served.