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New Orleans Jail Recording Phone Calls Sparks Debate

New Orleans Jail Recording Phone Calls Sparks Debate

(Karen Foley/Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 23 May 2018 12:11 PM

New Orleans jail recordings of phone conversations between suspects and their attorneys are being called into question, but the district attorney has defended the practice, calling "fair game" since they are told the calls could be monitored, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Tuesday.

Court Watch NOLA, a watchdog group, issued a report about the recordings from the Orleans Parish jail, charging that sharing them violated the constitutional rights of the inmates, the newspaper said. The conversations are attorney-client privilege and should not be shared with prosecutors, Court Watch NOLA added.

"The attorney-client privilege was created so an attorney could learn the truth about his or her client's case," Court Watch NOLA executive director Simone Levine told the Times-Picayune. "Where that purpose is obstructed, the underlying facts of the case cannot be investigated and the larger purpose of the criminal justice system — that the innocent are protected and the guilty take responsibility — is destroyed."

Officials from Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office and parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman defended the practice of jail recordings for safety reasons, the newspaper said.

A Cannizzaro's spokesman said that that since the attorney and the inmate hear a statement that the conversations are recorded and monitored, it makes them fair game for prosecutors.

Ken Daley, from Cannizzaro's office, told the Times-Picayune that there are other ways for defense attorneys and inmates to communicate privately.

"The phone calls that law enforcement has access to are not privileged and can be used like any other statement that a defendant has made to or in the presence of law enforcement," Daley told the newspaper.

Thomas Frampton, a public defender, told The New York Times that prosecutors used a conversation he had with a client to win a conviction in a possession of drug paraphernalia case.

"It completely changed the way I dealt with clients," Frampton said in an email, according to The Advocate. "Afterward, I effectively stopped taking clients' calls. This was a huge problem. Clients wondered why I never wanted to talk to them, and it became much harder to build trust with them, which is a critical part of the job. But the risk of some relatively innocuous comment being used against my client was just too great."

Daley argued to The Advocate that attorney-client privilege disappears when a third-party contractor, like the jail's telephone contractor, is involved.

"I think it's incumbent upon the defense attorney, at the start of the conversation, to stress to his client that this call is being monitored by law enforcement," Daley told The Advocate.

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Recordings of phone calls between suspects at a New Orleans jail and their attorneys are being questioned, with some saying their use in court violates inmates' rights.
new orleans, jail, recording, phone calls
Wednesday, 23 May 2018 12:11 PM
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