of Champaign County
    Steering Committee

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010

7:00 p.m.

Room 3405 Siebel Building



Present: Bill Brown, Paul Wisovaty, Paul Debevec, Barbara Kessel, Stephen Portnoy, Shirley Stillinger, Marsha Woodbury, Esther Patt, Stuart Laird, Carol Inskeep, Lynne Rudasill, Carol Leff


1.     Approval of minutes of September 30 meeting.  The minutes were approved with one amendment (the fact that it was agreed that it was a CD, rather than a regular account, that should be in a higher yield account).

2.     Announcements & Communications

a)     Rosenstein film results—The ACLU benefit at the Art for the documentary “The Lord is Not on Trial” netted 670 dollars for the Roger Baldwin fund, of which 400 was donated from the proceeds by Jay Rosenstein, and 270 from the book sale from Dan McCollum. The board was pleased and suggested that notes of thanks should be sent, but Bill Brown had already sent acknowledgements. He said he would send a note to Jay Rosenstein in addition to the e-mail already sent.

3.     Old Business

a)     Fall Gathering Nov 14 at Susan Cohen’s – We discussed the needed materials/staffing for the fall gathering.  Paper goods were already purchased last year, board to bring food, Richard Schnuer to bring the wine and wine glasses, Carol Leff and Bill Brown to set up.

Fall Gathering:

November 14th, 5:00 PM, 3506 S. Vine, Urbana

b)     Farmer’s market Nov 6?  We decided it was too cold to attract farmer’s market patrons to stop and chat at an outdoor market.  Agreed to explore staffing a table indoors December 4th or 11th.

c)     We discussed visit with UIUC Police chief Barbara O’Connor and agreed it had been useful.  We need to remind her office about the information requested on traffic stop policies as well as information on the geographic areas in which UIUC stops were made.

Carol Inskeep and others noted that the traffic stops themselves, rather than necessarily the consent searches, were what tended to irk citizens, particularly minority citizens.

d)     Do more with traffic stop & consent search profiling information?

We agreed that it might be valuable to follow up with the UIUC Student Senate committee representatives who attended the September meeting on their interest in pursuing the issue on campus. CU Citizens are FOIA-ing the consent searches in Urbana to find out more about the specific circumstances surrounding them.  We can decide how to proceed depending on the findings in these cases.

4.     New Business

a)     Champaign “Interacting with Police” pamphlet.  Richard Schnuer brought copies of the new Champaign information pamphlet on citizen rights in dealing with the police. It was agreed that this was a useful undertaking. The conversation focused on suggestions for improvements in any future edition.

Key issues under discussion were

1)     the necessity to tell the truth to a police about your age and name, so as to avoid a possible felony obstruction of justice charge for false information. (The pamphlet currently isn’t clear about the risks associated with misleading information).

2)     The language used to describe your rights to refuse consent.  In particular, the item number 4 under “At Your Door”—currently says to “let the officer in only if the officer insists”—an officer’s insistence is not a clear legal standard, to say the least.  Contributors to the discussion suggested that, since an officer’s right to enter without consent is valid only in a few specific cases (a warrant or on an immediate danger situation/hot pursuit), the instructions in the pamphlet should be clearer on citizen rights of refusal.

We also discussed a similar but punchier and more concise “Know your rights” wallet-sized card that can be carried with you. Examples were circulated at the meeting.  ( Note from CL: The UIUC Student Senate has such information, but the website given on the card didn’t work when I tried it.

Bill will draft a letter forwarding our suggestions on future revisions.

We also discussed the possibility of meeting to discuss these issues with the Champaign Human Relations Commission.

b)     The volunteer-staffed Help Desk at the courthouse, set up to help people who couldn’t afford a lawyer (pro se filings) with filing procedures and forms, is slated to close for lack of funds.  (Funding level is about 12,000 dollars, apparently primarily for provision of forms—but see follow-up on the actual purposes for which funding is used). Almost one thousand people have used this service during the year 2010 to date.  The local bar association apparently doesn’t have the funds to support this. Lynne Rudasill agreed to contact the UIUC law library’s Michael Robak, who will know what the law library has been considering in trying to fill the gap, perhaps by getting a grant. 

Barbara Kessel plans to go to the County Board meeting on this issue in any case, and Shirley Stillinger said she might go as the official ACLU representative, to express concern.

c)     Regarding IL Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty & ACLU meeting with Jakobsson & Frerichs—We decided that it was not necessary to take the time of Jakobsson and Frerichs (and our time) on an issue on which ACLU views are known.

d)     We discussed a Speaker & date for the annual meeting, tentatively scheduled for April 10 or 17 2011.  The agreed upon theme was in the area of gay rights, and particularly “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  We agreed to explore the idea of combining the annual lunch meeting with a separate public event.

5.     Adjournment at 8:30.

Future meetings:

December 2, 2010

February 3, 2011

March 3, 2011