Most people, even those who have never had a run-in with the law, understand that when they speak to their attorney, it is considered privileged. A lawyer cannot breach attorney-client-privilege without the permission of their client. What is more, people awaiting trial in jail expect that any phone calls with one’s attorney are confidential; such discussions are not – should not – be made available to law enforcement officials. Unfortunately, that is not always the case in Florida, and now in California, as well.
Individuals currently serving time in penal institutions across the country are allowed to make phone calls at certain times of the day. Outgoing calls are typically made on phones with warnings attached that communication is being recorded; anything incriminating can be used against the inmate. However, the disclaimer about recording applies only to non-legal-related correspondence.
The phone system is supposed to stop recording when it becomes apparent that a privileged conversation is taking place. However, a new report reveals that the Orange County jail’s telephone carrier has improperly recorded 1,079 attorney-client discussions. It turns out that this is not the first time that GTL, the phone carrier, has violated attorney-client privilege, The Orange County Register reports. GTL also “accidentally” recorded privileged conversations in Florida.
George McNitt, vice president of technical services for GTL, testified that the phone calls in question were recorded by mistake, according to the article. McNitt argues that “human error” results in 1,300 attorney phone numbers not be added to the system as “do not record” when GTL’s software underwent an upgrade back in 2015.
Everyone can agree that over a thousand attorney-client conversations were recorded improperly; and, maybe it was all a big glitch that can be corrected to avoid repeat occurrences. Still, there is evidence that privileged calls were not purged from the system, and GTL records show Orange County deputies “listened to or downloaded attorney-client recordings” 77 times and one deputy accessed the recordings 33 times,” writes The OC Register. In a later report, the O.C. Deputy Public Defender Sara Ross told Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett that the list was inaccurate, the number is probably much higher.
An investigation is currently underway to unravel this case, and certain recorded defendants are attempting to have their cases thrown out over the mishap.
Orange County Criminal Defense
Please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in the state of California. With decades of experience, Attorney Brower can advocate for you or your family member, ensuring the best possible outcome is achieved.