"In the recording, which the one juror said was replayed several times in the jury room, Alejo was heard explaining to Moore that she might be wasting her time because it was basically her word against that of the patrol officer. Alejo also said they could 'almost guarantee' that the officer would never bother her again if she dropped the complaint.
"'When we heard that, everyone (on the jury) just shook their head,' juror Adams said in a telephone interview. 'If what those two investigators were doing wasn't criminal, we felt it bordered on criminal, and she had the right to record it.'"
Now try filing a complaint about the police, but you have to go through the police to do it - good luck with that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8v7lF5ttlQ
No online form, no independent civilian agency, no state or federal oversight - they make you go through them, and you most certainly do not want to do that (warning that video is going to make your blood boil halfway though).
If city police officers intentionally violated one's rights, one can sue the offending officers (and the municipality ) in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (However, under Supreme Court case law, officers have qualified immunity for honest mistakes.)
>No ... federal oversight - they make you go through them
You can file a complaint with the US Department of Justice.
It is true that police officers get away with too much misconduct, but it's not true that there is no independent oversight whatsoever.
 Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Svcs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978).
And thus, police agencies have incentive to keep their officers ignorant about the rights of the people. If the police are never taught the law, then any "mistake" they make is clearly the result of ignorance rather malicious intent. But if they're properly educated, then they'll be responsible for their own actions.
No, and that is my point. Government agents enjoy qualified immunity. They aren't personally responsible for their actions if they can show that they were ignorant of the law.
(and since you weren't aware of this, I think that demonstrates that it's an important point to make)
However, they should monitor themselves (with video) whenever they are interacting with the public. This helps them gather solid evidence. If they "forgot" to turn on the camera, or "lost" the disk, the judge and jury should be asking why.
1. The proponent of the new law wants the support of the police union, appear to be tough on crime, and point to his support for law and order in the next election. 'Protecting people' -- with a subtext of 'people like you, my campaign donors'.
2. The rest of the legislators are either in on party lines, want to show law-and-order support, or just didn't pay attention. Yes, I'm serious about that last bit.
When was the last time you heard of laws being repealed voluntarily rather than being found unconstitutional? Massachusetts' knife laws read as though the person who wrote them had just been watched a 1970s martial-arts film marathon and called it research. In New York you can sell slingshots that you can't legally possess.
Look at the incentives for legislators: they're not well-aligned with the goals of having a good government, no matter what you think that means. All the incentives are to pass more legislation or to score political points that bear little resemblance to what ordinary rational citizens want.
It's not just Illinois.
> When was the last time you heard of laws being repealed
There must be plenty of crap on the books that either is completely outdated, subsumed by other more recent statutes, or could be implemented as an amendment to another item.
Extreme refactoring! (also potentially life imprisonment if you fail a test-case)
Although, if everybody was that apathetic in this fictional society they might not appoint anyone at all and just go and eat some donuts instead.
I'm trying to understand your perspective of history here. It seems to me despotism more often is the result of fervor and extremism. Whipping the populace up into a frenzy. Apathy is pretty much the opposite of that.
Has there ever been an election where they said "well, voter turnout was extremely low, guess we can just appoint some nutjob instead"?
Widespread political apathy can be a precursor to despotism as it allows a minority to seize and wield power more easily over a majority. This is arguably part of the current situation in modern Russia IMHO.
As for making appointments due to voter apathy, there's the 2003 Serbian presidential election, which was canceled due to voter turnout being extremely low and so the incumbent stayed in, despite not even getting the most votes out of those that were cast;
And here's an example from business;
"The International Game Developers Association has hand-picked five new board members after the process to elect had become void due to low turnout."
" In this particular case, however, Judge Sacks seemed to declare Illinois' law unconstitutional not because it's a citizen's right to record interactions between the police and the public, but because the law was too far-reaching. "
i.e. the judge is saying the law is unconstitutional not because the cops should be held accountable, but because it has the potential to criminalize almost any recording made in a public place. The article in the Sun-Times linked says the legislature is trying to fix the root problem, which is good. Pisses me off to see the police unions pushing back, even though it's to be expected.
In the GPS case, the use of GPS trackers could include (and frequently did include) "following" a person into private property where the follower would not otherwise have permission to be, i.e.., the doctor's office, lawyer's office, etc.
Some original legal theory behind the 'one of the participants is ok with it.' was based on the notion that this person could also testify to it (being a participant). I would really like that reasoning to be re-asserted more widely but that has yet to happen.