Guy Arrested, Threatened With 15 Years For Recording Traffic Stop In Illinois

by Mike Masnick, Techdirt
Oct. 01, 2011

With Illinois planning to appeal the Michael Allison case, in which the state wants to put Allison in jail for 75 years because he recorded an interaction with the police, it's worth pointing out that this is not the only such case in Illinois. A few people have sent over this ABC report about another guy, Louis Frobe, who was arrested and told he was facing 15 years in jail for daring to turn on his Flip cam during a traffic stop. You can see the video of the traffic stop in the news report below. Yes, note the irony: the whole thing was recorded (without Frobe's permission) by the police car camera, but the second the officer sees the Flip cam, he tells Frobe he's committed a felony and arrests him:

The key part:
Frobe calls it the worst experience of his life. He was on his way to a late evening movie on an August night last year when he was stopped for speeding in far north suburban Lindenhurst. He didn't believe he was in a 35-mile-an-hour zone, and he figured if he was going to get ticket he wanted to be able to document his challenge with video evidence, so he got out his flip camera, which he was not very adept at using.

At one point he held it out the window trying to record where he was. When the officer, being recorded on his squad dash cam, walked back to Frobe's car, the officer saw Frobe's camera.

Officer: "That recording? Frobe : "Yes, Yes, I've been... Officer: "Was it recording all of our conversation? Frobe: "Yes. Officer: "Guess what? You were eavesdropping on our conversation. I did not give you permission to do so. Step out of the vehicle."

Louis Frobe was then cuffed and arrested for felony eavesdropping.
Yes, eavesdropping. On himself.

In this case, prosecutors eventually dropped the charges, but Frobe turned around and sued them for the arrest in the first place. The Illinois Attorney General -- who still insists there's no First Amendment right to record the police -- has said Frobe's case should be dismissed since he has no standing. Of course, this is a nearly identical fact pattern to the Glik case in Massachusetts, where the court not only allowed Glik to sue but found 1st and 4th Amendment problems with the arrest. These are different circuits, so the ruling in Massachusetts doesn't directly act as precedent for Illinois, but it certainly can be cited and discussed.

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