Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eavesdropping case dropped!!!

A reader has offered this link (which I have already inspected) in response to my story about yet one more continuance with the criminal case of eavesdropping against Alexander Henson (10CF000388):  Note that this is a Massachusetts case. The information is good, but it doesn't apply in Illinois.

This local case involves Henson's recording of McHenry Police in April 2010, while they were inside a home and performing their official duties.

Should citizens have the right to record police with videocameras or cell phones?

Police assert that privilege during traffic stops recorded on dashboard cameras and wireless microphones worn by officers. They don't ask drivers if it is okay to record them. Some departments even share those recordings with popular TV shows. (My opinion is that most police actions caught on those cameras are illegal and provide evidence usable in court against the police.)

But back to Henson's case. This case has been meandering its way through McHenry County Circuit Court since April 2010. On Monday, August 29, 2011, it was set for jury trial at 10:00AM in Judge Prather's court. As I wrote earlier this week, I was in her courtroom by 10:00AM and never heard the case called. Henson's attorney has not responded to my emailed inquiry about whether the matter was handled prior to the 10:00AM court call.

As a result of Monday's court action, I noticed on Monday that the case is now set for a plea on September 12.

And today? The eavesdropping charge is now shown as nolle prossed. So, after all the hoop-de-lah AND sixteen months of aggravation AND legal expense to defend himself, there only remains a charge of resisting arrest.

Well, friends, if Henson hadn't committed a crime (eavesdropping), then how can he be arrested, charged and, most importantly, convicted of resisting arrest? For what?

Law enforcement agencies (police and sheriff's departments) have an awesome power to wreak havoc in peoples' lives by charging them and then dragging cases on for months and months. Do some of those agencies and prosecutors hope to bankrupt a defendant into a guilty plea?

Why wasn't a plea entered in April 2010? Court records indicate only that a jury trial was demanded on May 6, 2010. No plea is noted.

Then seven (7) continuances followed on motion by Henson.

On January 6, 2011, a date for a jury trial was set.

Then "The People" (that's the prosecution) began asking for continuances. On the date for the jury trial (August 29), the prosecution dismissed the eavesdropping charge!

This is our criminal system at work, folks. This case should have been heard and settled over a year ago. One of these days the circuit court judges are going to gang up on the lawyers and shout, "Enough! Trial will be on a certain date! And you'd better be ready, or you'll be sitting in Hotel Nygren for five days!"


Ray said...

While the cite I sent you was not controlling it does carry some precendential weight because there are no cases on point in our district (NDist.Ill).

The Seventh Circuit is not know for particularly wild rulings and the First Circuit is very solid, it's not like the case I sent you was from the Ninth (fruits and nutsville).

If I had to guess, and I am guessing, the reason that the felony was struck from the call was that a deal to plead to the misdemeanor was in the works.

Gus said...

Thanks, Ray. I'd like to agree, but isn't a deal finalized with a plea of guilty and then the other charges are nolle prossed. In this case, the felony was dropped and the plea is expected next month.

Of course, I guess the People could unwind the nolle pross, if the plea isn't to their liking.