While it is true that an individual loses many of hir or her rights once detained and held in a county jail or prison, there are some rights that remain intact. For example, all detainees, regardless of where they are being held, can exercise their Sixth Amendment rights that “guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, including the right to a public trial without necessary delay, the right to a lawyer, the right to an impartial jury, and the right to know who your accusers are and the nature of the charges and evidence against you.”
Apart from having the right to a lawyer, inmates are also permitted to make private phone calls to their attorney and anything discussed between the two is expected to be kept confidential. Unfortunately, the rights of an inmate aren’t always protected. In fact, KCUR recently reported that “a federal judge is holding the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas in contempt in connection with a burgeoning scandal involving recordings of confidential conversations between criminal defendants and their attorneys at a federal detention center in Leavenworth, KS.”
After U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson discovered that many of the recordings prosecutors obtained involved attorney-client conversations and that the U.S. Attorney’s Office “disobeyed her previous orders to preserve documents and recordings as part of an investigation in the recordings,” she made the ruling to hold the Office in contempt. The recordings that were obtained “stemmed from a 2016 indictment as part of an investigation into alleged drug and contraband trafficking at the Leavenworth Detention Center” [Source: KCUR].
During that time, six people were indicted but because prosecutors believed there were more than 150 people involved both inside and outside of the facility, “prosecutors issued a grand jury subpoena to obtain voluminous recordings from more than 100 video cameras inside the facility” and “more than 48,000 phone calls made by prisoners.” Many of the calls that were accessed were between attorneys and their clients. And although the prosecutors involved claimed that the inmates and their legal counsel should have been aware that their calls were being recorded, many of the conversations prosecutors listened to should have been kept confidential.
In other words, the dialogue that transpired between lawyers and their clients during these calls was not to be used as evidence to convict a person of a crime. But it may have been.
As a result of Robinson’s findings, she “said individual defendants could bring claims of prosecutorial misconduct.” So far, 110 defendants have filed petitions alleging their Sixth Amendment rights were violated. The Kansas City Star reported that at least three defendants have had their sentences vacated or their indictments dismissed as a result of the recordings being accessed by prosecutors. KCUR also reported that “more than 100 people charged with or convicted of federal crimes could have their cases dropped or prison sentences reduced based on their claims of prosecutorial misconduct and violations of the attorney-client privilege.”
Although criminal defense lawyers are able to request that their calls with their clients are kept private and unmonitored, many have found that even after they follow the necessary steps to make this happen, their requests are still ignored. Therefore, inmates should keep their conversations to a minimum when using a jail phone and consider these tips:
- Never discuss your case over the phone, even if you are speaking with your criminal defense attorney.
This case is a prime example of why Jersey City, NJ defense lawyer Eric M. Mark never discusses the substance of a case over the phone with someone who is being detained. Although you’re told that your phone calls with your lawyer are going to be kept confidential and that anything you say will not be used to incriminate you, the majority of phone calls are recorded, even when an attorney requests otherwise. In order to be safe rathe than sorry, it is best you don’t discuss anything regarding your case with friends, family, or even your legal representative over the phone.
- Never say anything about escaping.
Calls are monitored for a reason. Those listening in are merely waiting for an inmate or the person on the other line to say something that could help convict the detainee. Therefore, if you mention escaping, even if you are doing so in a joking manner, you are asking for trouble.
- Don’t bad mouth the prison staff.
Because those listening in are not on your side, it is best you don’t say anything that could lead to an issue developing. The prison staff is in control of your meals, medicine, etc. so its best you don’t say something offensive that they could use as a reason to make your stay even more miserable than it already will be.
Now, if you have been charged with a crime in Jersey City, NJ and have yet to retain a criminal defense lawyer or are looking to find a legal representative for a loved one who was recently arrested and jailed, contact the Law Office of Eric M. Mark today for legal advice, guidance, and representation.
The Law Office of Eric M. Mark is located at:
Jersey City Office
121 Newark Avenue, Suite 515
Jersey City, NJ 07302