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October 2, 2022

Lerna – Eavesdropping during public meeting?

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On September 2, 2015

Lerna, IL. (ECWd) –
Does the eavesdropping law apply to open public meetings in Illinois?
The short answer is “NO”.
This accusation comes up frequently when we attend meetings where we haven’t attended before.
During the September 1, 2015 meeting in Lerna, one resident stated that I did not have his permission to tape the meeting and that I was breaking the law by doing so.
He was mistaken.
The Illinois Criminal Code explicitly exempts recording of meetings required to be open by the Open Meetings Act.

720 ILCS 5/14-3 – ARTICLE 14. EAVESDROPPING
Sec. 14-3. Exemptions. The following activities shall be exempt from the provisions of this Article:
(e) Recording the proceedings of any meeting required to be open by the Open Meetings Act, as amended;

A comment left in a recent article eluded to the Open Meetings Act and the public body’s ability to establish rules governing the ability to record meetings. This also comes with the legislative intent that things like designating a place for camera, etc. to be located are reasonable rules as long as it does not hamper the recording of a meeting, but any rules cannot eliminate or place any other restrictions on the ability to record an pen meeting including requiring advanced notice, requiring permission to record, or even requiring a person notify people they are recording.

Sec. 2.05. Recording meetings. Subject to the provisions of Section 8-701 of the Code of Civil Procedure, any person may record the proceedings at meetings required to be open by this Act by tape, film or other means. The authority holding the meeting shall prescribe reasonable rules to govern the right to make such recordings

There is an exception for testimony to a tribunal, etc.
The Open Meetings Act states that anyone may record and calls it a RIGHT, and the Eavesdropping law exempts open public meetings from its definition of eavesdropping.
There you have it folks! Record open meetings without worry or threat.

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3 Comments
  • Dave
    Posted at 15:07h, 02 September

    Thanks guys! Why would anyone think a public meeting can’t be taped just boggles my mind.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 15:21h, 02 September

      He needed something to complain about seeing as they were losing the debate.

  • Dennis
    Posted at 15:34h, 02 September

    It’s my understanding that the Illinois supreme court has stated that any public official elected or otherwise including now police can be taped, as long as reasonable expectations of such as act could occur. Such as any public place.

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