Illinois County Attorney Says He'll Prosecute No-Taping-Cops Law Declared Unconstitutional on "Case by Case Basis"

By | August 7, 2013

Morgan County, Illinois, State’s Attorney Robert Bonjean

a little confused about what it means
when a court declares a
law unconstitutional, reports the Jacksonville, Illinois,

A Jacksonville man who had his phone seized for recording an
on-duty police officer is not likely to be charged under the
state’s controversial eavesdropping law.

Morgan County State’s Attorney Robert Bonjean said Monday that
he is not anticipating prosecuting an eavesdropping charge against
Randy Newingham — at least not at this time.

For the public at large, this does not mean that recording
on-duty officers will never be prosecuted in Morgan County.

“We’ll review those reports and we’ll continue to monitor the
decision from the 7th Circuit court,” Bonjean said. “I don’t
foresee myself making any blanket decision, just taking it on a
case by case basis.”

Gee, what more is still up in the air about that decision,
declaring the law which Bonjean will enforce on a “case-by-case
basis” unconstitutional? Nothing at all.

Late last year, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a ruling to stand
in the Illinois 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that video
recording an on-duty police officer was protected by the
Constitution and exempt from eavesdropping laws, which were placed
on the books in the 1960s….

“Quite honestly, I haven’t made a decision,” Bonjean said.
“Officially I’ve [indicated] to [Police Chief Tony Grootens] that I
won’t file charges. But technically it’s a felony charge, so I have
three years from the date of the offense to file a charge.”

“Technically” it’s an unconstitutional law, Mr.
Bonjean. And yet Police Chief Tony Grootens says it was the
arrested citizen who is ignorant of the law.

Grootens said he believed that Newingham was sincerely ignorant
of the law.

“Believe me, [the State’s Attorney’s Office is] busy enough,”
Grootens said. “There’s more pressing things on their plate right
now than to go with that. I already took care of it. … I told him
not to be doing it. He honestly thought he was OK to do it, so now
if he continues to do it, I can’t tell you that he certainly won’t
be arrested.”

Newingham had his cellphone confiscated Wednesday after he
showed police a recording he had made of himself having a
conversation with an on-duty officer on a golf cart.

He made the recording to follow up on reports he had received to
his organization, Police Abuse Reporting, that officers were using
golf carts for police business.

While at the police department to submit a Freedom of
Information Act request seeking the purchase date of the vehicles,
Newingham’s phone was taken and he was questioned….

Nation of men, not laws!

Hat tip to
Gillette-Torvik blog
via Radley Balko. Radley wrote a
2011 Reason classic
on the police war against
citizen photography/taping.

Category: Liberty
Eric Barrier

About Eric Barrier

Eric Barrier is a financial writer and contributor to several online sites including The Michigan Standard where his focus is on local politics and finance.

One thought on “Illinois County Attorney Says He'll Prosecute No-Taping-Cops Law Declared Unconstitutional on "Case by Case Basis"

  1. Randy Newingham

    Thank you for taking notice to this incident so many years ago. I had no idea that this was muti state newsworthy. If only the incidents that gave me reason for creating PAR and devoting a huge amount of my time to investigating police misconduct in our town was of as great value much more could have been changed for the greater good of our community. Lynchings in our jailhouse with vital evidence being mishandled by investigations, numerous severe beatings by police of suspects, etc. Anyway, thanks again for shining light on our small town.


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