Criminal Justice

Fla. Sheriff Says Inmates Are Happy About Recorded Phone Calls with Lawyers

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A Florida sheriff says he will start taping inmates’ phone calls with their lawyers and will use the evidence against them in court.

Sheriff Grady Judd of Bartow says the inmates like the idea—because it will force their lawyers to meet with them in person, reports.

“We talked to probably 35 or 40 inmates and said, ‘What do you think?’ ” Judd said. “They said, ‘We think it’s great because now we can see our attorney before we show up in court. Now we can have a face-to-face with our attorney.’ “

Public defenders say the 26-mile drive for meetings as short as a couple minutes will put a tremendous strain on the office. On Monday alone, the PD’s office received 677 calls from the jail, The Ledger reports. “This, I feel, is just totally ridiculous,” Public Defender Marion Moorman told the publication.

Judd says he decided to make the change after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that inmates have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their phone calls if they are warned they will be recorded.

The Polk Law Blog has more information on the Florida Supreme Court’s rulings on the subject. Technically, the sheriff is probably correct about Florida law, the blog says. But some cases raise constitutional questions about limits on inmates’ phone access to lawyers.

“Does the this policy violate the Sixth Amendment?” the blog asks. “You’d need a crystal ball to know for sure. The only cases (that I know of) on point say the policy is fine, but the more important case, the 8th [U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals], suggests that it is not that simple.”

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