N.D.Ill.: Accidentally transmitted private conversation wasn’t a search

Plaintiff had a conversation near a malfunctioning Motorola handheld radio that transmitted their conversation to the Illinois State Police that was recorded in due course, and then the conversation was passed on resulting in job discipline. The recipients did not violate any Fourth Amendment rights in recording it in the first place and then passing it on. Lawlor v. Metro. Water Reclamation Dist. of Greater Chi., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40716 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 13, 2018):

Since it did not violate the Fourth Amendment to record the conversation, it also did not violate the Fourth Amendment to transcribe or disseminate the recording. Jabara v. Webster, 691 F.2d 272, 279 (6th Cir. 1982) (“We do not believe that an expectation that information lawfully in the possession of a government agency will not be disseminated, without a warrant, to another government agency is an expectation that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.”); United States v. Joseph, 829 F.2d 724, 728 (9th Cir. 1987) (“Federal examination of evidence in the state’s possession does not constitute an independent search requiring the execution of a search warrant.”). Nor did it violate the Fourth Amendment for the MWRD Defendants to use a tape that it lawfully acquired.

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