Legal Ethics

As Inmate Seeks to Suppress Wired Lawyer's Evidence, a New Issue: Did Feds Bug Lawyer Room at Jail?

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Motions to suppress are commonplace, but the evidence being debated in a federal district court hearing in Omaha, Neb., this week is anything but.

At issue is whether attorney Terry Haddock was acting as a lawyer for inmate Shannon Williams when Haddock carried a government-wired cellphone into the Douglas County Jail and recorded Williams allegedly orchestrating the movement of millions of dollars worth of marijuana.

Plus, a lawyer representing Williams in related civil matters tells the ABA Journal, discovery shows that the feds also wired an attorney-client conference room at the jail, collecting, all told, some 50 compact discs containing 300 hours of conversation. About 80 percent of that material is recordings of Williams and his lawyer, estimates attorney Ray Richards II, and the other 20 percent is spillover recording of other inmates and their lawyers who happened to use the room subsequently.

The bugging of the jail’s lawyer-client conference room, Richards said in a telephone conversation with an ABA Journal reporter, hasn’t yet been a focus of any formal complaint, to the best of his knowledge. However, the suppression hearing this week will address whether Haddock was Williams’ lawyer when he gathered evidence to help the feds bring a federal drug kingpin case against the inmate.

If convicted, Williams could face a life term. The ABA Journal wasn’t immediately able to reach attorney Michael Tasset, who has been representing Williams in the criminal case and has been in court this week, according to his office.

As discussed in an earlier post, Haddock has said he “had to do it” to keep Williams off the streets. Reportedly paid $47,000 plus relocation costs by the feds, Haddock also received attorney fees from Williams, according to Richards, who didn’t specify the amount of the claimed payment or payments.

Haddock and the feds say Haddock was not acting as Williams’ lawyer as he gathered evidence against him.

A July article in the Omaha World-Herald discusses an earlier suppression hearing and another World-Herald article last week reports that Williams has been found competent to assist in his own defense.

Additional material: “After News That Lawyer Wore Wire to Jail, Inmates Ask, What About My Counsel?”

PR Web (press release): “Informant Lawyer to Testify Against His Former Client Facing Life in Prison”

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