Privacy Law

Federal prison likely recorded hundreds of lawyer-client meetings; class action is filed

  • Print


More than 700 attorney-client visits at a federal prison in Kansas were likely recorded on video, according to a court-appointed special master who was asked to investigate.

Special master David Cohen drew that conclusion after reviewing recordings made during 30 attorney visits at the prison in Leavenworth and finding that every visit had been recorded, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports. Based on the limited review, he concluded that all of the 700-plus lawyer-client meetings during a 12-week period apparently had been recorded.

The recordings did not contain audio, according to previous coverage. The prison was run by a private operator, the Corrections Corporation of America.

Cohen said in his Jan. 31 report (PDF) that privileged attorney-client material was recorded in five of seven meeting rooms that were equipped with cameras at the prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. There were 14,000 hours of recordings in those rooms during the 12-week period in question, and it would be too difficult to view all of the recordings to figure out which recordings involved attorney-client meetings, he said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office has acknowledged obtaining the video, but says it was not viewed by any employee of the office or any law enforcement agent.

There has also been evidence that phone calls between inmates and their lawyers were recorded, even when the lawyers had provided their phone numbers and asked that their phone calls not be recorded. Cohen has said his analysis of more than 48,000 recorded phone calls found that more than 200 of those calls were made to a known attorney number.

The prison was operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Its successor, CoreCivic, was named as a defendant in a class action suit filed last month that seeks to represent all lawyers whose communications with inmates at the prison were “intercepted, disclosed or used,” Law360 (sub. req.) reports. The suit also names as a defendant the company that operates the phone system, Securus Technologies.

The suit alleges a violation of wiretap laws in Missouri and Kansas.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.