'Outlaw' silent on eavesdropping plea

Monday, January 31, 2000

Kane County Chronicle (IL)


ST. CHARLES – Animal activist Steve Hindi's lawyer refused to enter a plea on charges of felony eavesdropping in court Thursday.

Instead, Rick Halprin told Kane County Circuit Court Judge James T. Doyle that his client is an "outlaw," who, is not subject to the law.

Hindi, of Geneva, tried to shut down the rodeo at the Kane County Fair last July, alleging that the animals were being mistreated.

He showed St. Charles police photos of what he claimed was mistreatment of the rodeo animals. Hindi taped his conversation with police, and when he showed them his recorder, they charged him with eavesdropping.

The statute for recording the conversation witout permission is a Class 4 felony punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison.

Doyle noted the seriousness of the charge and countered that in his courtroom, every person is afforded his rights under the law. Doyle entered a plea of not guilty for Hindi and ordered a jury trial.

But Halprin said he would be filing court papers arguing that charges should be dropped for lack of jurisdiction.

Doyle set the next court date for Thursday, March 2.

After his arraignment, Hindi pointed to the docket posted outside Doyle's courtroom. "Murder, aggravated assault, car theft, -- and here's me, 'eavesdropping without permission,'" he said.

In earlier statements about why his office is pursuing charges against Hindi, Kane County State's Attorney David Ackemann said he bears no "personal animus" toward the animal rights activist.

Hindi is charged under a 1994 eavesdropping law that requires all parties to consent to being taped. A new law specifically makes it illegal to tape police, prosecutors or judges while they perform official duties. The punishment also was elevated to a Class 1 felony, punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

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