Do Not Support James Glasgow For Will County State's Attorney
James Glasgow is the current Will County State's Attorney, serving since 1992. As State's Attorney, he manages all of the prosecuting lawyers for Will County, Illinois.
I spoke with James recently at a meet the candidates event, asking him one very simple question that I could not get a straight answer for. The question was: As State's Attorney, would you use Illinois's "two party consent" wiretapping law to prosecute someone who is video and audio recording a police officer in public, performing his duties as an officer.
Keep in mind, this is almost exclusively illegal in Illinois. It's a major issue, and people are definitely being tried in court over it. It's being thrown out by judges left and right, like in the case of Christopher Drew. He was going to be charged with a felony, punishable up to 15 years, for recording his own arrest.
First, he told me that he never had to try a case like this, so he wasn't sure what the case would be about and would have to judge it on an individual basis. So I elaborated and asked, what would you use to judge it then?
He told me he would judge it based on if the officer was actually doing something wrong at the time of the recording. He also went on to say that if you are going to record a police officer performing their duties, you should have to calculate the risk and see if it is worth it to do so, because you can definitely be arrested for it, and James would be very willing to prosecute you for it.
The logic behind this is astounding. How is anyone supposed to know ahead of time that a police officer is going to do something wrong? Does he expect a citizen to be able to reverse the flow of time, in order to capture the officer committing a crime, so that the citizen can audio record what the officer is doing incorrectly?
It makes no sense to have an exception to the law only if the officer is doing something wrong. By that time, it may be too late, and crucial evidence will be lost. He could not understand this. No matter how plainly I worded that this shouldn't have any impact on if someone is prosecuted or not, he insisted this would be what he would judge it on.
He went on to elaborate that the person holding the camera can and will be charged with obstruction of justice if they refuse to turn the camera off, and again, would have to take a calculated risk to keep the camera on. He also noted that the police can and will take the camera from you as well.
I asked, how can someone be obstructing justice if they are standing off to the side filming someone's arrest? He "answered" this, if you can even call it answering a question, by noting that the Rodney King recording would be acceptable in Illinois because the person was far enough away that they couldn't hear the audio of the police officers. I don't even know what this could possibly mean.
Is he trying to say that it is unacceptable to capture the beating of a man with audio in Illinois? Or is that one of the things you should take that risk he mentioned before, and hope that he doesn't prosecute you for reporting police misconduct?
He noted you can avoid all troubles with audio recording by simply video recording with audio disabled, but again, the police can take your camera, and you shouldn't be surprised if you get punched in the face for sticking a camera in someone's face. I don't even know how someone can miss the point that much. I can only wonder who he would prosecute in that case? The guy who left the audio running on his camera, or the guy punching people in the face over a camera? I guess it all depends if that guy doing the punching is a cop or not.
James tried very hard to put himself in the position of the unbiased enforcer. He told me I should talk to the other state representatives at the event if I feel so strongly about recording the police in public, to have it changed at the law level. I already have, and I've received very positive answers from the candidates I spoke to about this. Garret Peck and Tuck Marshall, both candidates for Illinois State Senate, called the wiretapping laws ridiculous, and said that we need to be able to hold our public officials accountable. James stressed that it wasn't up to him to try and write laws, and that he can only take things on a case to case basis, to decide if he will prosecute. He noted that there are many cases he has let go if the law was a bit ridiculous or someone made an honest mistake, but he wouldn't try to take the role of a law creator.
As it turns out, this isn't exactly all true. James told me specifically that it is not his job to try and change the law. Then I would like to see him explain what I found on his campaign website.
I will quote the specific portions of his site so that it can be available for viewing, in the event it is lost or deleted.
Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow works on the front line to draft tough new laws that protect our families.
These laws include:
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - He wrote and passed two aggressive new domestic violence laws in 2011 and 2012 that significantly increase penalties for repeat offenders as well as for abusers who torture their victims.
Rebecca's Law, passed in 2011 and which bears the name of a Joliet resident who fell victim to two days of torture and beating at the hands of her then-husband, increases prison sentences for battery cases involving torture to a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 15 years and enhances the offense to a Class 1 felony from a Class 3 felony.
A second law passed in 2012 increases the penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders. An offender's first conviction for domestic battery is a Class A misdemeanor under current law. Second and third convictions rise to Class 4 felonies while the fourth conviction jumps to a Class 3 felony, and the fifth conviction to a Class 2 felony. Each higher felony brings greater prison sentences.
SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA - The State's Attorney wrote and passed a groundbreaking new state law that closed loopholes in prior laws and made it illegal to possess or sell every form of synthetic marijuana. State's Attorney Glasgow and House Minority Leader Tom Cross, who sponsored the law, sent 350 letters to tobacco vendors warning them to remove the products from their shelves, resulting in virtually complete compliance in Will County.
ANIMAL ABUSE - He drafted and passed an Animal Torture Statute that created the first felony charge in Illinois for the abuse of animals and a mandatory psychiatric evaluation upon conviction to identify potential mass murderers.
Hey, it's almost as if the State's Attorney has a HUGE impact and influence on our laws, and he seems to be spending quite a bit of time amending laws or creating new ones.
I don't know why James misled me. Maybe he didn't think I knew how to factcheck him? Maybe he's getting used to it, with all his years of lawyering? He does pass and write laws all of the time, and in the case of the synthetic marijuana law, take a look at what he created to keep all of us "safe." You can read his posting live on facebook, but I will mirror it here as well for those without accounts or if it is deleted.
JOLIET - Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow and House Minority Leader Tom Cross are warning retailers that selling any product containing synthetic marijuana will be illegal under a new law that takes effect on January 1, 2012.
State's Attorney Glasgow researched and drafted the law that makes the sale or possession of synthetic marijuana a felony crime. Rep. Cross sponsored the legislation, HB 2595, which the governor signed earlier this year. Glasgow and Cross were joined by local police chiefs and community leaders in urging retailers to acknowledge the new law and stop selling these products.
Synthetic marijuana has been sold legally under brand names such as K2, K4 White Widow, Black Mamba, Spice, Purple Haze, Zombie Matter and Orange Krunck to name a few. They are sold as incense in packages that often state: "Not For Human Consumption."
However, consumers have been smoking these products - sometimes with encouragement from shop owners - in the same way people would smoke illegal marijuana. Health risks posed by smoking synthetic cannabinoids include seizures, hallucinations, tremors, paranoia, convulsions, high blood pressure and rapid heart rate. Poison control centers across the country have received more than 5,000 calls related to synthetic marijuana products in the first nine months of 2011, according to published reports.
"Over-the-counter availability of synthetic marijuana has created a public-health crisis in Will County and across the nation," Glagsow said. "Young people are being poisoned by these extraordinarily dangerous chemicals. It was our obligation as law enforcement officials and as legislators to pass a law banning the possession and sale of every form of synthetic marijuana in Illinois."
"With access to these dangerous substances, the safety of our children and consumers is at stake," said Rep. Cross. "That is why we acted so quickly when we learned people were getting sick after abusing these items and banned these substances through legislation this Spring."
Under the new law:
* All known synthetic marijuana products will be classified as an illegal Schedule 1 controlled substance. Laws were being enacted that outlawed only some chemical formulas for synthetic marijuana, but allowed the continued sale of substitute formulas. The new law comprehensively bans all currently available substances and covers more than 160 formulas.
* Anyone who sells products containing synthetic marijuana could be charged with a Class 3 Felony that upon conviction carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to a $150,000 fine and the seizure of illegal stock as well as any property used to facilitate the sale. However, penalties can range as high as 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines for someone who sells 200 grams or more of synthetic marijuana.
* Anyone who simply possesses synthetic marijuana could be charged with a Class 4 Felony that carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
The Will County State's Attorney's Office will work with local police agencies in January to make certain that retailers are complying with Illinois law. Officers - in uniform or undercover - will visit tobacco retailers throughout the county to ensure that these illegal products are not being sold. Last week, Glasgow and Cross sent letters to more than 350 tobacco merchants notifying them of the new law and warning them to remove the stock from their shelves.
Some states have passed laws banning a few of the literally hundreds of formulas for synthetic marijuana. A sophisticated industry has developed in which suppliers track legislation and skirt the intent of lawmakers by shipping formulas that are not banned in particular states. House Bill 2595 was reviewed by the Illinois State Crime Lab and will outlaw all synthetic marijuana compounds in Illinois.
Three years in prison for simply possessing a drug? No rehabilitation? No help to the drug user? JAIL? They're not overcrowded enough, and it's not like the police have anything better to do. Except...
Checking rape kits. Guess what? Illinois in 2010 had only checked and tested 20% of its rape kits on file. 80% of the rape kits in Illinois were not tested.
This is what James chose to busy our state's police force with? This is who he chooses to place a priority on sending to jail? There are girls being raped, and instead of trying to free up police resources or work with the law to try and get these rape kits processed state wide, our State's Attorney decided it was time to start sending synthetic marijuana users to jail, for three years, for simply having the drug on them.
So as it turns out, Glasgow does choose to write some of our laws, and they're not all great. I didn't appreciate the dishonesty about it, and I definitely do not appreciate his efforts to send the users of synthetic marijuana to jail for three years. If they are using drugs, they need help, not jail.
I have spoken to Glasgow's opponent, Dave Carlson. I asked Dave the exact same question about recording the police in public. He was actually able to come up with a straight answer. Dave told me that he would not prosecute a case if someone was video AND audio recording a police officer. End of story. As long as you have a camera on with video running, he saw absolutely zero problem with that interaction. He noted that the police already have the power to record you on video, and to deny you the right to tape the same conversation they are taping is ridiculous.
He did have one stipulation. He noted that while he definitely would not prosecute someone videotaping with audio, he did not know what he would do for audio only recordings. He stated that he feared the audio only recordings could be tampered with easier, and he didn't like the secrecy behind it, since it could lead to the police being able to secretly audio record citizens and expecting the same treatment as a citizen recording them. I said that I would like to see the law changed to give the audio only exception to citizens to use on public officials performing their duties in public, and that police can get a warrant if they feel the need to audio record a citizen. He said that is a problem, and something he would definitely weigh if the case came before him, but again stressed that with video and audio at the same time, he would have absolutely no problem.
If you live in Will County, Dave Carlson, Garret Peck, and Tuck Marshall are on the ballot this November, under the Republican ticket. Even if you are a Democrat, I would strongly urge you to reach across the aisle and elect the candidates that support your right to make sure the police can be held accountable while doing their job.