Legal Ethics

Judge Refuses to Dismiss Drug Indictments Based on Evidence Collected by Wired Lawyer

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A federal judge in Omaha has refused to dismiss the drug cases against an inmate and 10 other defendants based on evidence collected by a Nebraska lawyer who wore a wire.

The lawyer, Terry Haddock, supplied Shannon Williams with a cellphone so he could run his marijuana operation from jail and secretly recorded 63 conversations with the inmate, the Omaha World-Herald reports. Haddock had testified he wore the wire because Williams had talked about “eliminating” two witnesses, an allegation that Williams denies.

Senior U.S. District Judge Lyle Strom said the evidence is allowed because lawyer-client conversations about ongoing or future criminal activity are not privileged, the story says. “The government’s conduct in utilizing Haddock was not outrageous,” he wrote.

Williams had paid Haddock thousands of dollars, but it was for the cellphone rather than legal advice, Strom said. “The questions Williams posed to Haddock were general legal questions akin to what a nonlawyer would ask a lawyer at a party,” the judge wrote.

Strom said Haddock’s actions didn’t violate the Constitution but “may be worthy of professional sanction.”

Williams’ lawyer, Michael Tasset, said he would appeal. “I’m disappointed but I’m unfazed and undeterred,” he told the World-Herald.

Prior coverage: “As Inmate Seeks to Suppress Wired Lawyer’s Evidence, a New Issue: Did Feds Bug Lawyer Room at Jail?” “Lawyer Who Wore Wire to Build Case Against Claimed Client: ‘I Had to Do It’ ” “After News That Lawyer Wore Wire to Jail, Inmates Ask, What About My Counsel?”

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