People v. RelerfordAnnotate this Case
Defendant had worked as an intern at the radio station Blakey managed but was rejected for employment. After he repeatedly tried to contact station employees, defendant was informed that he was not welcome at the station and should stop making contact. He continued his behavior. Defendant was convicted of stalking (720 ILCS 5/12-7.3(a)(1), (a)(2)) and cyberstalking (720 ILCS 5/12-7.5(a)(1), (a)(2)), based on allegations that he called Blakey, sent her e-mails, stood outside of her place of employment, entered her place of employment, used electronic communication to make Facebook postings expressing his desire to have sex with Blakey and threatening her coworkers and employer and that he knew or should have known that his conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for her safety and to suffer emotional distress. The appellate court vacated the convictions, finding subsection (a) of the statutes invalid. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the speech restrictions imposed by subsection (a) do not fit within any of the “historic and traditional” categories of unprotected speech under the First Amendment. Subsection (a) does not require that the prohibited communications be in furtherance of an unlawful purpose. Given the wide range of constitutionally protected activity covered by subsection (a), a substantial number of its applications are unconstitutional when judged in relation to its legitimate sweep. The portion of subsection (a) that makes it criminal to negligently “communicate[ ] to or about” a person, where the speaker knows or should know the communication would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, is facially unconstitutional.