Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
A Chicago jury has acquitted Tiawanda Moore of felony eavesdropping.
This is of course great news for Moore. Her attorney claims she was protected under an exception to the eavesdropping law that allows someone to record evidence of what she believes to be a crime. I don’t know if trying to persuade someone not to file a police complaint is a crime. But the jury either bought that argument, or this was a case of jury nullification. I kinda’ hope it was the latter.
Of course, this also means that the Moore won’t be the one to challenge the law to have it overturned. Which means that unless someone like Christopher Drew or Michael Allison are convicted, Illinois police will still be able to use the law to intimidate and arrest anyone who attempts to record them.
One other thing. It’s a little odd that most media accounts of this case describe Moore as a “former stripper.” It’s actually the first three words in the Sun Times story. Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s hard to envision the article starting that way if Moore were a former nanny. Or school teacher. Or bus driver. So what’s the point? Even if Moore’s sexual assault allegation was the only newsworthy part of this story, the implication is that her former job is relevant to her allegation. Is the implication that strippers probably act provocatively even when they aren’t working—-indeed, even when they aren’t strippers anymore—and thus should expect unwanted sexual advances from cops? Is it that strippers are inherently untrustworthy? That they’re more likely to make false allegations of sexual assault? (If anything, I would suspect that strippers have built up a fair amount of tolerance for unwanted advances.)
But that of course isn’t why this story is in the news. It’s in the news because Moore became frustrated in her attempt to file a complaint, and so recorded what she thought were Chicago police officers’ attempts to rebuff her, and was consequently facing a felony charge and up to 15 years in prison. The validity of the allegation that set all of that into motion isn’t really at issue. (Indeed, the resolution of Moore’s complaint is apparently “sealed.” Which is a problem in and of itself.) So even if you buy into the fairly offensive notion that Moore’s former occupation calls her harassment allegation into doubt, the “former stripper” label is completely irrelevant to whether or not she should have been arrested and charged for recording the cops.
It does, however, give Chicago PD defenders a reason to trash her in the comments section.
My HuffPost story on Moore and the Illinois law here.