SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that police don't have to follow a state eavesdropping law when working as part of a federal investigation.
The ruling stemmed from a 2003 DuPage County drug sting that resulted in Randall Coleman being sentenced to 22 years in prison for two counts of selling cocaine.
On appeal, Coleman argued audio recordings used to convict him should be thrown out because police violated state law in getting them.
Illinois' eavesdropping law says both parties must consent to the recording or the person doing the recording must get a judge's permission. Federal law, however, is far less restrictive. For instance, it does not require a court order for federal agents who plant a wire on confidential informants.
Because a federal agency assisted in the two-year investigation leading to Coleman's arrest, the state Supreme Court found the federal law pre-empted the state's and the evidence was admissible.
For nearly 30 years, "Illinois courts have upheld the admissibility of such evidence, and the legislature has remained silent on this issue," Justice Thomas Fitzgerald said in writing the court's opinion. There was no dissent from the other justices.
Citing past cases, the court said such recordings could be thrown out if police conspired with federal authorities to get around the state eavesdropping laws, but it found no such evidence in this case.