Constitutional Law

Judge Dubious About Warrantless Search of Prison Cell in High Profile Abortion Doc Murder Case

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Defense counsel for the wife of an abortion doctor in a high-profile murder case are raising questions about a Philadelphia jail cell search practice that a prosecutor says has been commonplace.

Instead of obtaining a search warrant, prosecutors there routinely simply subpoena prison officials seeking records, according to the Associated Press and the Philadelphia Daily News.

“I don’t understand how the commonwealth can think that it’s OK to serve a subpoena to search the cell of a represented defendant … without notifying counsel and giving him a chance to go to court,” said Pennsylvania Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner, apparently agreeing with attorney Michael Medway, who represents Pearl Gosnell, during a pretrial hearing Tuesday.

He said such a search is not to happen again and told Medway to file a motion seeking the return of material seized from his client’s cell as well as its suppression as potential evidence.

According to the articles, prosecutors were seeking correspondence between Gosnell and her husband, who is facing multiple murder counts concerning his work as the operator of a Philadelphia abortion clinic.

Earlier coverage: “Prosecution to Seek Death Penalty for Abortion Doc Accused of Murdering Woman and 7 Viable Babies” “‘Complete Regulatory Collapse’ Helped Abortion Doc Charged in 8 Murders Keep Operating”

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