After News That Lawyer Wore Wire to Jail, Inmates Ask, What About My Counsel?
Posted Jan 26, 2010 4:15 PM CST
By Martha Neil
Recent news that a 52-year-old Nebraska attorney reportedly wore a wire to the Douglas County jail to help the FBI pursue an investigation against a suspect in a multimillion-dollar marijuana case stunned the local legal community.
Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley, for instance, says he “about fell out of my chair” when he heard the "farfetched" news, reports the World-Herald.
But word of the claimed attorney informant also electrified inmates at the jail, who are now wondering whether they have to worry about saying anything potentially incriminating to their own legal counsel.
Accounts differ as to whether Terry Haddock was, or was not, acting as the Shannon Williams' legal counsel as he funneled information to the feds about the marijuana case suspect. The authorities say he wasn't, but Williams and his current legal counsel say Haddock was the marijuana suspect's lawyer at the time.
Haddock, who apparently has not commented directly to the newspaper, has told unspecified "others" that he had to act to protect individuals that Williams had threatened to eliminate as witnesses, the World-Herald reports. However, questions have been raised about Haddock's motives by Williams and his current lawyer, the newspaper recounts in a lengthy article detailing the reaction to Haddock's unusual role as a government informant.
Regardless of how this evidence issue concerning the marijuana case against Williams is resolved, however, other criminal defense practitioners are now dealing with the fallout.
Steve Lefler, an Omaha lawyer with 33 years in practice, says he has now been asked several times by inmates whether he can be trusted not to snitch on clients, and resents having to answer the question.
“That's what this case has done. It just raises the question, in my mind," he says of Haddock's reported role as an informant. "Even if it was legal for the government to do it, should it have been done?”