Constitutional Law

Sheriff Taped Jail Phone Calls in 'Illegal Spying' Campaign, Lawyer Says

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A Florida lawyer has accused the local sheriff’s office of an unethical and potentially criminal practice of secretly recording—and forwarding to its own legal counsel for review—jailhouse phone calls made to him by his clients.

A spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office calls the accusations by attorney John Trevena “just ridiculous.” However, Larry McKinnon also says that all jail phone calls are automatically recorded, except for those placed to the public defender’s office—as signs near the phones and a recorded message warn inmates, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Trevena says he received in routine discovery from the state a CD containing multiple taped conversations between him and a client in an attempted sexual battery case, Richard Daniel Decoursy.

“It’s the most egregious violation I have seen,” Trevena tells the newspaper. “I’m concerned about what is essentially illegal spying.”

He is seeking to dismiss the Hillsborough Circuit Court case against Decoursy, contending that the prosecutor may have listened to the taped attorney-client conversations before forwarding the CD to the defense. If so, that would “gross misconduct,” Trevena says in a court filing.

The sheriff’s office is looking into Trevena’s contentions and plans to discuss them at a press conference today, the Times reports.

Related earlier coverage: “Does Jailhouse Pay Phone Recording Violate 6th Amendment?” “Prosecutors Taken Off Fla. Murder Case for Listening to Defendant’s Phone Calls”

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