Constitutional Law

Recorded jail phone calls violate 6th Amendment and cost us money, attorneys say in lawsuit

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Joining colleagues in Florida, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee who have complained that jailed defendants’ phone calls with their attorneys are being recorded, some Texas lawyers have filed an amended class action complaint objecting to the practice.

However, in addition to arguing about alleged violations of inmates’ Sixth Amendment constitutional rights, the Austin Lawyers’ Guild raises another issue in last week’s filing that will likely strike a chord with fellow defense counsel: Recording phone calls is costing defense attorneys money, because it forces them to spend more time visiting with inmates in person to keep conversations confidential, reports Texas Lawyer (sub. req.).

The amended complaint also contend that prosecutors were aware of the recordings and that judges have tried to stop the practice, to no avail.

Assistant Travis County attorney Tony Nelson is representing three of the defendants in the case, county sheriff Greg Hamilton, county attorney David Escamilla and district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. He says they deny the allegations and will provide more details in a responsive filing, the legal publication reports.

Related coverage: “Fla. Prosecutor’s Office Disqualified for Listening to Lawyer Phone Calls” “Fla. Sheriff Says Inmates Are Happy About Recorded Phone Calls with Lawyers” “Inmate’s ‘Cop Out’ Jail Phone Message to Lawyer Wasn’t Privileged, 2nd Circuit Rules”

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