Wednesday, November 28, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes

the lawLearn more: Ever since ordinary Americans have been able to instantly videotape any given situation, there have been powerful forces working to circumvent the Constitution and prohibit use of such technology.

The most recent example involves a California man who was tossed in jail for four days after he attempted to videotape police officers on a public street.

In that case, Daniel J. Saulmon was charged with resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer, even though the video clearly shows him standing well away from a traffic stop, and that he was only arrested after he failed to produce identification for an approaching officer. As an aside, there is no California law that requires a citizen to produce identification (remember, this is a state that welcomes illegal immigrants). And, as others have pointed out, even if there was such a law on the books, officers would be required to have reasonable suspicion that the person being asked for ID was committing a crime.

Unable to defend the indefensible

Now; however, such arrests will hopefully become a thing of the past following a just-announced U.S. Supreme Court ruling which upholds a citizen’s right to video police.

Justices decided not to hear a case involving the state of Illinois’ authoritarian “eavesdropping” law that has been regularly abused by authorities to prevent citizens from taping cops in action.

The Chicago Tribune reported that in deciding to pass on the issue, justices left standing a ruling by a lower federal appeals court which found that the law violates free-speech rights when it is applied to persons who tape police.

In June, the appeals court issued a temporary injunction, which effectively barred Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez from prosecuting anyone under the current statute. In late November, the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued Alvarez over the statute, asked a federal judge hearing the case to make the injunction permanent, according to Harvey Grossman, the legal director for the ACLU’s Illinois chapter.

Grossman went on to tell the paper he believes a permanent injunction would ultimately set a precedent across the state that irreparably hampers enforcement of the law.

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