Criminal Justice

Objecting to secret recording of attorney-client meetings got him fired, says sheriff's deputy

A former chief deputy for a suburban New Orleans sheriff says he was fired for objecting to secret videotapes that routinely recorded conversations during attorney-client meetings in a sheriff’s office interview room.

Tregg Wilson, who is a licensed attorney in Louisiana, makes the allegation in a federal lawsuit he filed against St. John the Baptist Parish and Sheriff Mike Tregre in New Orleans. reports Courthouse News. It seeks damages for alleged retaliation, wrongful termination and other claimed torts.

The local district attorney and state police are investigating, according to Wilson.

The article doesn’t include any comment from Tregre or the sheriff department’s counsel.

However, the Times-Picayune reports that state police concluded earlier this year that the videotaping system, as it was being used, is not illegal. Although it was apparently known to others, no prosecutor, defense lawyer or suspect seemingly has objected, the newspaper says.

“Based on case law … the current function of the system does not violate the law,” a state police investigator concluded, “but could very well violate the law if used in an unlawful manner,” the newspaper reports, relying on a report obtained this week in response to a July public records request. It also noted that the videotaping is a secondary system used only to back up the primary disk-recording system and said access to the videotapes is provided only to a few individuals.

The district attorney said it is unusual for suspects to meet with defense attorneys at the sheriff’s office.

An Advocate article says the sheriff acknowledged that the videotaping had occurred, but said he arranged to have the system disabled after Wilson objected.

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