Eavesdropping law struck downThe Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s eavesdropping law, one of the strictest in the nation that made audio recording of any person, even in public, illegal unless that person gave their consent. The case involves Annabel Melongo, who recorded three telephone conversations she had with a court reporter supervisor at the George Leighton Criminal Courts complex. (Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune / June 29, 2012)
By Steve Schmadeke Tribune reporter7:51 p.m. CDT, March 20, 2014

Hours after the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s eavesdropping statute on Thursday, Annabel Melongo reflected on the 20 months she spent locked up in the Cook County Jail under the now-unconstitutional law.

Melongo said she had been ordered held on a six-figure bond typically given repeat or violent offenders for recording three telephone conversations she had with a court reporter supervisor at the Leighton Criminal Court Building about the policy for correcting a hearing transcript.

“It’s not easy,” Melongo, 41, a Cameroon native who came to the U.S. after studying in Germany, said of her time in jail. “I went through all the emotional states you can imagine. Sometimes I was crying, sometimes I could not sleep.”

“And I don’t even…” she said, breaking off before describing being accosted by another inmate. “They say what doesn’t kill you makes you strong and believe me, when I got out of jail, there’s nothing in the world that can actually kill me now.”

The Supreme Court ruling means the state legislature may need to draft a law that will allow people to make certain public recordings while also protecting legitimately private conversations, according to attorneys on the case and legislators.

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