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Case Name ACLU of Illinois v. Alvarez FA-IL-0003
Docket / Court 1:10-cv-05235 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Policing
Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On August 19, 2010, the ACLU of Illinois filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, against the Cook County State's Attorney. The ACLU, represented by its own attorneys and private ... read more >
On August 19, 2010, the ACLU of Illinois filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, against the Cook County State's Attorney. The ACLU, represented by its own attorneys and private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the Illinois Eavesdropping Act violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Illinois Eavesdropping Act criminalized non-consensual audio recording of oral communication of others. The ACLU intended to record police officers performing their duties in public without their consent and make the recordings available to the general public. Due to its fear of prosecution under the Act, the ACLU sought to challenge the statute and this started the lawsuit.

On October 28, 2010, the District Court (Judge Suzanne B. Conlon) granted the State's Attorney's motion to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of standing. ACLU of Illinois v. Alvarez, 2010 WL 4386868 (N.D. Ill. 2010). The Court denied the ACLU's motion to alter the judgment and to amend the complaint on January 10, 2011. ACLU of Illinois v. Alvarez, 2011 WL 66030 (N.D. Ill. 2011). Judge Conlon held that the ACLU suffered no First Amendment injury, reasoning that the First Amendment did not protect its right to audio record unwilling speakers. The ACLU appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit.

On May 8, 2012, the Seventh Circuit Court (Diane S. Sykes) reversed the lower court's judgment and remanded the case. ACLU of Illinois v. Alvarez, 679 F.3d 583 (7th Cir. 2012). The appeals court ordered the district court to allow the amended complaint and to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the State's Attorney's prosecution of the ACLU under the Act. Judge Sykes explained that the lower court abused its discretion in its ruling regarding the ACLU's standing. The Court of Appeals found that audio recording was entitled to First Amendment protection, and that the willingness of the speakers was irrelevant to the standing issue.

Regarding the ACLU's First Amendment claim, the Seventh Circuit found that the First Amendment interests were strong in this case and that a heightened scrutiny applied. The Act burdened directly the speech and press rights under the First Amendment, and was not closely tailored to the government's interest in protecting conversational privacy. Judge Richard A. Posner dissented, focusing on the importance of privacy, especially that of the civilians interacting with police officers in public. (The State sought Supreme Court review, but its certiorari petition was denied on November 26, 2012.)

On remand, the case was reassigned to Judge Sharon J. Coleman. On July 6, 2012, Judge Coleman issued a preliminary injunction according to the appellate court's order. The ACLU filed its amended complaint on July 10, 2012. On December 18, 2012, the District Court granted summary judgment to the ACLU for reasons set forth in the appellate opinion. ACLU of Illinois v. Alvarez, 2012 WL 6680341 (N.D. Ill. 2012). Judge Coleman further ordered a permanent injunction in favor of the ACLU on January 14, 2013, which prohibited the State's Attorney from prosecuting the ACLU for its audio recording of on-duty police officers without their consent in public. On March 5, 2013, Judge Coleman ordered the State's Attorney to pay the ACLU in sum of $645,549 for attorneys' fees and litigation costs. This ended the case.

Emma Bao - 06/20/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
False arrest
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Cook County
Plaintiff Description The ACLU, which wishes to record police officers in public without their consent.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2013 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:10-cv-5235 (N.D. Ill.) 03/05/2013
FA-IL-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 08/19/2010
FA-IL-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Defendant's motion to dismiss granted] 10/28/2010 (2010 WL 4386868) (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0003-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [Dismissing case with prejudice] 10/28/2010 (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ACLU'S Memorandum in Support of its Motion to Amend Judgment, to File an Amended Complaint, and for a Preliminary Injunction 11/18/2010
FA-IL-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Plaintiff's motion to alter judgment and amend complaint denied] 01/10/2011 (2011 WL 66030) (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0003-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Judgment of the District Court reversed and case remanded, USCA 11-1286] 05/08/2012 (679 F.3d 583)
FA-IL-0003-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source:
USCA Order [Denying petition for rehearing and petition for rehearing en banc] 06/14/2012
FA-IL-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Injunction and Other Relief 07/06/2012 (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0003-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 07/10/2012
FA-IL-0003-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Granting motion for summary judgment and permanent injunction issued in a separate order] 12/18/2012 (2012 WL 6680341) (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0003-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Permanent injunction] 01/14/2013 (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0003-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Attorneys fees] 03/05/2013 (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0003-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Coleman, Sharon Johnson (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0003-0008 | FA-IL-0003-0010 | FA-IL-0003-0011 | FA-IL-0003-0012 | FA-IL-0003-9000
Conlon, Suzanne B. (N.D. Ill.)
FA-IL-0003-0001 | FA-IL-0003-0002 | FA-IL-0003-0006
Hamilton, David Frank (Seventh Circuit, S.D. Ind.)
FA-IL-0003-0007
Posner, Richard Allen (Seventh Circuit)
FA-IL-0003-0005 | FA-IL-0003-0007
Sykes, Diane S. (Seventh Circuit)
FA-IL-0003-0005 | FA-IL-0003-0007
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Friedlieb, Linda Robin (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-0003 | FA-IL-0003-0004 | FA-IL-0003-0009 | FA-IL-0003-9000
Grossman, Harvey (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-0003 | FA-IL-0003-0004 | FA-IL-0003-0009 | FA-IL-0003-9000
Leighton, Robert Douglas (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-0009 | FA-IL-0003-9000
O'Brien, Richard J. (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-0003 | FA-IL-0003-0004 | FA-IL-0003-0009 | FA-IL-0003-9000
Schwartz, Adam D. (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-0003 | FA-IL-0003-0004 | FA-IL-0003-0009 | FA-IL-0003-9000
Sheley, Karen A (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-0003 | FA-IL-0003-0004 | FA-IL-0003-0009 | FA-IL-0003-9000
Taksin, Matthew D (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-0003 | FA-IL-0003-0004 | FA-IL-0003-0009 | FA-IL-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Castiglione, Paul Anthony (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-9000
Driscoll, Patrick T. Jr. (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-9000
McCutchan, Jeffrey S. (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-9000
Pechous, Donald J. (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-9000
Pullos, James Charles (Illinois)
FA-IL-0003-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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