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Unconstitutional Eavesdropping

Did you know that an inmate's calls, that are not to an attorney, can be recorded and used against him in court? When an inmate makes a call to a friend or family member, anything they say can be recorded and used against him. However, a criminal defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to present a defense and have a lawyer. That means they get to have private conversations with their attorney, without the police listening, even if the criminal defendant is in jail.

The jail in Orange County hired GTL, a private telecommunications company, to record non-attorney calls and automatically NOT record calls from lawyers who were on a list. The system did not work and calls with lawyers were recorded. There is concern and evidence that prosecutors listened to some of these calls and used the information against defendants.

Serious criminal charges have been dismissed when the government interferes with the relationship between criminal defendant and his attorney. The courts characterize such behavior as “outrageous government conduct.”

When questioned about using GTL, Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said she doesn’t “think we’re in a position to terminate,” as “there aren’t a lot of vendors out there that do this kind of work and provide these services.” I wonder whether Shasta County uses the same company. The Law Office of Samuel C. Williams will be sending them a Public Records Act Request to find out if they also use GTL. Stay tuned for the response.

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