By: Jay DeFoore
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office has decided not to file criminal charges against former Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede.
DeFede was under investigation for taping a July 27 conversation with former Miami city and county commissioner Arthur Teele Jr., who later committed suicide in the Herald’s lobby. In Florida, the unlawful interception of electronic communication is a third degree felony.
DeFede has called a press conference for 2:00 p.m. Friday.
A document labeled “Close Out Memo Preliminary Inquiry” released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office Friday afternoon states that this inquiry is now closed and recommends that “no criminal charge be filed against Jim DeFede for his actions.”
The memo goes on to say, “However, it would be incorrect for anyone to assume from this result that Mr. DeFede’s actions, in tape recording a conversation without consent, were appropriate or justified. They were not. Had Mr. DeFede been utilizing his position as a journalist to secretly tape a private conversation for his own advantage or to the advantage or detriment of any other person, he would be prosecuted. It is the uniqueness of the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Arthur Teele, and his last conversation with a journalist who happened to also be a trusted friend, which has led to the conclusion not to prosecute, rather than any special journalistic privilege or legal exception accorded to Mr. DeFede.”
The complete text of the DeFede memo can be found here.