By DON TERRY
Published: January 22, 2011
New York Times
Christopher Drew is a 60-year-old artist and teacher who wears a gray ponytail and lives on the North Side. Tiawanda Moore, 20, a former stripper, lives on the South Side and dreams of going back to school and starting a new life.
Christopher Drew faces eavesdropping charges for recording his arrest for selling art on the streets without a permit.
About the only thing these strangers have in common is the prospect that by spring, they could each be sent to prison for up to 15 years.
“That’s one step below attempted murder,” Mr. Drew said of their potential sentences.
The crime they are accused of is eavesdropping.
The authorities say that Mr. Drew and Ms. Moore audio-recorded their separate nonviolent encounters with Chicago police officers without the officers’ permission, a Class 1 felony in Illinois, which, along with Massachusetts and Oregon, has one of the country’s toughest, if rarely prosecuted, eavesdropping laws.
“Before they arrested me for it,” Ms. Moore said, “I didn’t even know there was a law about eavesdropping. I wasn’t trying to sue anybody. I just wanted somebody to know what had happened to me.”
Ms. Moore, whose trial is scheduled for Feb. 7 in Cook County Criminal Court, is accused of using her Blackberry to record two Internal Affairs investigators who spoke to her inside Police Headquarters while she filed a sexual harassment complaint last August against another police officer. Mr. Drew was charged with using a digital recorder to capture his Dec. 2, 2009, arrest for selling art without a permit on North State Street in the Loop. Mr. Drew said his trial date was April 4.
Both cases illustrate the increasingly busy and confusing intersection of technology and the law, public space and private.
“Our society is going through a technological transformation,” said Adam Schwartz, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which last August challenged the Illinois Eavesdropping Act in federal court. “We are at a time where tens of millions of Americans carry around a telephone or other device in their pocket that has an audio-video capacity. Ten years ago, Americans weren’t walking around with all these devices.”
He said that when “something fishy seems to be going on, the perfectly natural and healthy and good thing is for them to pull that device out and make a recording.” FULL STORY