As part of his ongoing efforts to increase public safety in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today signed two new laws that will help law enforcement crack down on drug crime and protect members of the justice system. The governor signed the new laws at the Illinois State Police Forensics Labs in Chicago and was joined by members of Illinois' law enforcement community who support the new laws, including the Illinois State Police, the Chicago Police Department, and numerous state's attorneys.
Governor Quinn has signed several new laws this summer to crack down on crime and strengthen public safety, including one that empowers law enforcement to prosecute street gangs as organized crime and a law guarding against sex offenders by requiring park districts to perform employee background checks.
"The men and women who protect us from crime every day need the tools to do their jobs effectively," Governor Quinn said. "These laws will help law enforcement get more criminals off the street and protect the members of our judicial system as they carry out justice for the people of Illinois."
House Bill 4081, sponsored by Rep. Jehan Gordon (D-Peoria) and Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton), creates an exemption in Illinois' eavesdropping statute which allows State's Attorneys to give prior approval for the recording of individuals whom law enforcement suspects will commit a drug crime. The evidence obtained in these recordings may be used only in the prosecution of drug crimes or forcible felonies committed during the investigation of a drug crime. Current law allows law enforcement to obtain a court order to record a drug crime, but delays in that process in the past have resulted in missed crimes. This law is also a safeguard for undercover officers who may require immediate assistance when their lives are in danger.
"As a former State's Attorney for Madison County, I know this law will be invaluable in reducing the drug crime that plagues our communities," Sen. Haine said.
This legislation will strengthen the justice system by allowing more credible evidence into criminal proceedings. Judges and juries will be able to hear the actual conversations of those suspected of committing drug crimes, rather than relying on witness testimony that can be unreliable. Prosecutors and defense attorneys will also have more evidence to consider while negotiating plea agreements, which reduce the burden upon the criminal justice system. This new process allows Illinois law enforcement the same flexibility in crime situations as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and law enforcement in surrounding states. The law is effective January 1.
House Bill 5877, sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), creates the Illinois Judicial Privacy Act, which prohibits individuals, businesses, associations or government agencies from posting a judicial officer's personal information if that officer has requested in writing that it be removed. Upon receipt of the request, government agencies must remove information that is publicly available within five business days. Individuals, associations and businesses must remove the information within 72 hours. A person who posts personal information knowing that it could pose a threat to the health or safety of a judicial officer or his/her immediate family and which is a proximate cause of injury or death would be guilty of a Class 3 felony.
This legislation is an initiative of the Illinois Judges Association, which has found threats to judges rising steadily over the past decade. It was designed in response to the murder of the mother and husband of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow. Law enforcement believes the two were victims of retaliation against the judge following an unfavorable ruling.
Sections of the law concerning the posting of information are effective within 60 days and provisions affecting information use by the Secretary of State for identification cards, vehicle registrations and driver's licenses are effective January 1.