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IL Jury Acquits Woman Facing 15 Years for Recording Talk with Cops

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 26, 2011 6:48 AM

When Tiawanda Moore secretly taped a conversation with two Chicago police officers, she had no idea that she would soon be indicted on criminal charges under an obscure Illinois eavesdropping law.

Prohibiting the recording of public conversations without permission, the statute punishes offenders with up to 15 years in prison when law enforcement is involved.

On Wednesday, a jury acquitted the 20-year-old of all charges.

The tape, which was played multiple times during trial, held a recording of a 4 minute conversation during which two internal investigators attempted to intimidate Tiawanda Moore into dropping a complaint against a fellow office, reports the Chicago Tribune.

She had accused that officer of sexual harassment during an emergency call to her home.

Illinois' eavesdropping law is only one of a handful in the country that prohibits the recording of public conversations.

Most eavesdropping laws are designed to protect privacy, meaning that it is only illegal to record conversations wherein the other party has a reasonable expectation of said privacy.

In other words, citizens can normally record public conversations but not those held behind closed doors or on the phone.

Even though Moore's conduct appears to violate the letter of the law, the Tribune reports that the statute has an exception permitting secret recordings when a person suspects a crime may suspected.

The officers were arguably engaging in official misconduct.

This is likely not the last time you'll hear about Tiawanda Moore and the Illinois eavesdropping law. The ACLU is currently challenging it in court, and will be presenting arguments in front of the 7th Circuit next month.

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