Constitutional Law

Jail Recorded Almost 300 Law Firm-Client Phone Calls, Then Passed Them on to Others in Discovery

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A federal judge in Tennessee has ordered attorneys involved in a sex-trafficking case not to listen to recordings of almost 300 phone calls between Bell Tennent & Frogge and the law firm’s jailed clients while he figures out how to handle the fact that they were provided to others in discovery in the 29-defendant case.

Although Davidson County sheriff’s office has a policy of not recording attorney-client phone calls made from the metropolitan jail in Nashville, lawyers have to request in advance that a specific phone number or numbers be designated as nonrecorded, according to the sheriff’s website.

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge William Haynes Jr. of the Middle District of Tennessee must determine whether attorney-client privilege was waived concerning the calls to Bell Tennent, according to the Tennessean.

Attorneys representing co-defendants of Bell Tennent clients want access to the recorded conversations to see if they contain information that could be helpful. Jennifer Thompson, for example, represents a co-defendant in a major gang prosecution in which Paul Bruno of Bell Tennent represents the lead defendant. Conversations between Bruno and this client are included in the exculpatory material provided by the prosecution to the defense in the sex-trafficking case, the newspaper says.

The government argues that the recordings are not privileged because inmates are warned that their calls will be recorded each time they phone from the jail.

In opposition, attorney David Cooper says allowing the recorded calls with Bell Tennent attorneys to be used by other defense counsel would have a chilling effect and make inmates afraid to call their lawyers from jail.

Related coverage: “Jail Officials Recorded Inmate Threats to Murder Police But Did Nothing to Stop Him, Attorney Says” “Judge Refuses to Dismiss Drug Indictments Based on Evidence Collected by Wired Lawyer” “Lawyer Convicted of Felony Theft re 900 Free Phone Calls Made by Gang Members from Jail”

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