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Nicholson v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

August 5, 2013

DONNA NICHOLSON, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
JEFFREY WILSON, Respondent-Appellant (The State of Illinois, Intervenor-Appellee).

Held [*]

The plenary no-stalking, no-contact order issued against respondent pursuant to the Stalking No Contact Order Act was upheld over respondent’s contentions that the Act is unconstitutionally vague and violates both the equal protection clause and the first amendment, since the statute provides a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable chance to know what is lawful and what is unlawful for purposes of avoiding arbitrary enforcement, and the Act exempts any lawful “exercise of the right to free speech or assembly.”

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County, No. 11-OP-457; the Hon. Albert L. Purham, Jr., Judge, presiding.

L. Lee Smith and Ambrose V. McCall (argued), both of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, of Peoria, for appellant.

Elisabeth R. Pollock (argued) and Andrew W.B. Bequette, both of Beckett & Webber, P.C., of Urbana, for appellee Donna Nicholson.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Chicago (Michael A. Scodro (argued), Solicitor General, and Brett E. Legner, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellee Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Justices McDade and O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

HOLDRIDGE JUSTICE

¶ 1 Respondent, Jeffrey Wilson, appeals from a plenary no-stalking, no-contact order entered July 15, 2011. The order was issued pursuant to the Stalking No Contact Order Act (Act) (740 ILCS 21/1 et seq. (West 2010)). In issuing the order, the circuit court of Peoria County rejected certain constitutional challenges to the Act. On appeal, the respondent raised, inter alia, those same constitutional challenges. The State of Illinois, through the Attorney General, sought and was granted leave by the trial court to intervene to defend the constitutionality of the Act. The State continues to be a party to the appeal. For the reasons that follow, we uphold the constitutionality of the Act.

¶ 2 FACTS

¶ 3 On April 29, 2011, Donna Nicholson, an officer of the Peoria police department, filed a verified petition for a no-stalking, no-contact order pursuant to the Act. The petition included allegations that the respondent, Jeffrey Wilson, another police officer in the same department, had engaged in allegedly inappropriate conduct toward her over the course of several years. The trial court rendered its ruling based upon two specific instances: (1) Wilson's covertly videotaping Nicholson during the fall of 2010; and (2) his use of a GPS tracking device which he placed on Nicholson's car and used to monitor her movements.

¶ 4 Nicholson has been a police officer with the city of Peoria since 1991 and has worked in the vice unit since 2002. Wilson joined the Peoria police force in 1995 and was assigned to the vice unit in 2000. Wilson has been the unit technical officer since he joined the unit and was specifically assigned responsibility for the unit's video, audio, and surveillance equipment. Wilson was specially trained in electronic surveillance, GPS installation and maintenance, and surveillance equipment engineering.

¶ 5 On November 9, 2010, Lieutenant Michael Eddlemon observed a surveillance camera feed labeled "office" streaming onto the computer at Wilson's work station. Based upon Eddlemon's observation, a departmental investigation was initiated. A department computer video expert was able to establish that a hidden camera was trained on Nicholson's desk and that a pan/tilt/function had been utilized in the video recording to follow her movements around her desk and the office. Equipment records indicated that Wilson was the only officer who had access to the camera. When asked about the recordings, Wilson told his superiors that he had merely been testing the equipment and did not intend to use the camera to monitor Nicholson or anyone else. He claimed that the video must have accidentally recorded Nicholson. When Nicholson was informed that Wilson may have been videotaping her at the office, she became quite upset. She testified at the hearing that she felt victimized, betrayed, and angry that Wilson videotaped her after he had been ordered not to do so in 2008.

ΒΆ 6 In April 2008, Nicholson had reported a similar incident where she believed that Wilson was monitoring her movements in the office by use of video cameras. Nicholson testified that she reported her suspicions to her superiors, but she did not file a formal complaint. Wilson denied ever being told by superiors not to videotape Nicholson. However, Sergeant Jerry Bainter testified that ...


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