Hindi audio-tape eavesdropping case might be rewound

'Mistake made:' State's attorney no longer agrees with eavesdropping charge dismissal

Saturday, October 30, 1999

The Beacon News (Aurora, IL)

ST. CHARLES – A day after agreeing to dismiss a charge of felony eavesdropping against animal rights activist Steve Hindi, the Kane County state's attorney's office said it likely will refile the case.

The charge stemmed from an argument Hindi tape-recorded between himself and a St. Charles police officer last July. Hindi was urging the officer either to stop a rodeo at the Kane County Fairgrounds or to cite the event's organizers for animal cruelty.

The rodeo was allowed to continue, but an assistant state's attorney, consulted by telephone, authorized the Hindi arrest that same day on a charge of eavesdropping.

Because state law prohibits the recording of conversations without the consent of all parties involved, Hindi was charged with eavesdropping for taping his exchange with St. Charles Police Officer Lori York.

He admitted taping their conversation soon after doing so, according to a St. Charles police report of the incident.

The charge was dropped Thursday after Hindi's attorney, Rick Halprin, argued that a public official, such as a police officer, talking to a member of the public does not have a right to privacy.

Halprin said Hindi's arrest and overnight incarceration were clearly unlawful and a form of harassment of an individual unpopular among local law enforcement officers and rodeo officials. Halprin's motion to dismiss the case was granted Thursday by 16th Circuit Court Judge James Doyle.

Joe McMahon, chief of the state's attorney's criminal division, said "we agreed with the defendant's motion" to dismiss the charge after viewing relevant case law Thursday morning.

Late Friday, however, McMahon apparently changed his mind, although he did not return calls to confirm that.

However, Doug Booth, the state's attorney's office spokesman, said, "There was a mistake made in dropping the case, and we are working to rectify that."

Booth declined to elaborate.

Halprin responded, "I haven't the foggiest idea" on what legal grounds the state's attorney would reinstate the charge against Hindi.

Still, Halprin acknowledged, "the state's attorney has complete authority to bring charges" against his client.

Hindi could not be reached Friday evening, but he had said Thursday that he was informed by a St. Charles detective that he might against be charged with eavesdropping. The detective also said Hindi's tape recorder and the tape would not be released without a court order.

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