Lawyer alleges federal prosecutor said he could listen to attorney-prisoner phone calls

Source: Jonathan Shorman, Topeka Capital-Journal, October 26, 2016

An attorney for an inmate at the Leavenworth Detention Center alleges federal prosecutors not only obtained recordings of her client’s phone calls with a lawyer, but also listened to them. Melanie Morgan said in court documents filed Wednesday that an assistant U.S. attorney indicated that he could “freely listen” to calls between her client, Michelle Reulet, and another defense lawyer. Morgan, a Kansas City-based attorney, charges the prosecutor defended his actions, saying the lawyer no longer represents Reulet. Morgan said that wasn’t the case. Disclosures in the ongoing saga over the surveillance of detainees at the detention center, run by Corrections Corporation of America, had slowed after U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson appointed a special master earlier this month to examine the situation. Prisoner phone calls with attorneys have been recorded and videos were made of attorney-client meeting rooms. … The controversy over the recordings emerged in the background of a sprawling investigation of drug and contraband trafficking within Leavenworth Detention Center. A handful of people have been charged, but prosecutors indicate they believe upwards of 90 inmates may be involved as well as a number of workers. Defense attorneys representing inmates have said the recordings violate the inmates’ Sixth Amendment rights. But prosecutors have argued the phone recordings are not privileged because the facility warned inmates their calls may be recorded. …

Related:

Federal Judge Names Ohio Expert In Kansas Prison Recordings Case
Source: Associated Press, October 12, 2016

A federal judge in Kansas has appointed an Ohio attorney to investigate whether recordings of attorney-client conversations at a for-profit federal prison violated inmates’ constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Tuesday appointed David R. Cohen as special master, or expert, to identify and retain confidential information contained in recordings at the Corrections Corporation of America facility in Leavenworth

Defense lawyer raises new questions about secretly recorded jailhouse calls
Source: Jeff German, Las Vegas Review Journal, October 5, 2016

A defense lawyer has stepped forward to allege the federal detention center in Pahrump secretly recorded her confidential phone conversations with a client and then turned over the recordings to prosecutors in the case. Kathleen Bliss, a former longtime federal prosecutor, cited the alleged attorney-client breaches this week in a motion to dismiss a robbery case against her client, Robert Kincade, because of government misconduct. … They said hundreds of federal inmates at the Pahrump facility, run by Corrections Corporation of America, might be affected, and they asked a judge to appoint a special master to determine whether the practice is widespread. In her motion, Bliss said prosecutors in June turned over hundreds of recordings of Kincade at the detention center, including some with her. … Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a new indictment against Kincade, who has been at the Pahrump detention center for the past 18 months, charging him with a series of bank robberies between 2011 and 2014. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates federal detention centers across the country, has been “lambasted” by federal judges for invading the privacy of inmates at some of the company’s other facilities, Bliss wrote. …

Leavenworth CCA phone provider was accused of recording attorney calls in Texas
Source: Jonathan Shorman, Topeka Capital-Journal, September 16, 2016

Before revelations last month about the recording of inmate calls at Leavenworth Detention Center, a coalition of attorneys sued in Texas accusing a county sheriff, prosecutors and a phone technology company of recording attorney-client calls, despite assurances they didn’t. That company — Securus — also provides phone services to the Leavenworth facility. … The continuing disclosures surrounding recordings at the detention center, run by Corrections Corporation of America, has frustrated lawyers. Attorney-client privilege is a bedrock principle of the American legal system — a protection defense attorneys argue was violated at Leavenworth. It is unknown at this point how many attorney-client calls were recorded at Leavenworth, and how many attorneys were recorded despite requests to be shielded. Nor is it known why one attorney’s calls were recorded despite his requests otherwise. …

How a prison drug smuggling case in Kansas led to a showdown over recordings of inmate-attorney talks
Source: Johnathan Shorman, Topeka Capital-Journal, August 17, 2016

When attorneys said in court Tuesday that phone calls between lawyers and inmates at Leavenworth Detention Center had been recorded and obtained by federal prosecutors, the development was just the latest revelation in what a United States public defender says was a systemic violation of constitutional rights. The assertions by defense attorneys that federal prosecutors obtained video recordings of in-person meetings and audio of calls between inmates and their lawyers at Leavenworth Detention Center have already affected criminal cases resulting from a sprawling investigation of drug trafficking within the facility. Other cases could be ensnared as well. … The recordings have been brought to light as part of the ongoing prosecution of seven individuals who are accused of participating in a smuggling ring while in Leavenworth Detention Center, a facility privately run by Corrections Corporation of America. …

New Disclosure: Attorney-Client Phone Calls Were Recorded At Leavenworth Detention Center
Source: Don Margolies, KCUR, August 16, 2016

New revelations emerged at a court hearing today that the private prison contractor operating a pretrial detention center in Leavenworth recorded phone conversations between attorneys and their clients and turned them over to federal prosecutors.   The disclosures came atop revelations at a hearing last Tuesday that the contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), had made video recordings of meetings at the Leavenworth Detention Center between lawyers and their clients and turned those over to prosecutors. … Brannon’s impassioned denunciation elicited an objection from Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett, who said Brannon was making allegations against her colleagues without proof. Judge Robinson, however, let Brannon continue. Brannon told Robinson that communications between her office and the U.S. Attorney’s office had broken down and urged that as an additional reason to appoint a special master. … Brannon also told the court that government prosecutors had made additional, unspecified threats against the private attorney who first disclosed that the government possessed privileged communications between attorneys and their clients. Robinson granted her request to present that information in the judge’s chambers, so further details were not available. …

Kansas federal public defender requests inquiry into jail recordings
Source: Roxana Hegeman, Wichita Eagle, August 16, 2016

The federal public defender’s office in Kansas on Monday requested a special master’s inquiry into prison recordings of confidential conversations between inmates and their attorneys. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to determine the appointment and scope of a special master in the case. The practice surfaced in a case over distribution of contraband at the Leavenworth Detention Center in which video recordings, which contained no audio, were subpoenaed by a grand jury. But the defense outcry is now rippling across cases. … Brannon contends the Corrections Corporation of America has routinely and surreptitiously recorded video of meetings between counsel and clients that were supposed to be confidential, as well as attorney-client phone calls that were recorded and provided to the U.S. Attorney’s Office without notice to the defendants.

Recordings Of Attorney-Client Meetings Spur Outrage Among Criminal Defense Lawyers
Source: Dan Margolies, KCUR, August 12, 2016

An investigation into the distribution of contraband at the Leavenworth Detention Center has morphed into an explosive case involving possible violations of attorney-client privilege on a massive scale. Evidence at a hearing Tuesday revealed that the private contractor operating the facility, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), made video recordings of confidential conversations between inmates and their attorneys and passed some of it on to government prosecutors in response to a grand jury subpoena. … The Kansas Federal Public Defender Office says it first learned of the recordings last week after a private attorney, Jacquelyn Rokusek, was told by federal prosecutors they had evidence, in the form of a video recording, that she had a conflict of interest and should withdraw from a related case. The Federal Public Defender represents about 75 clients at CCA Leavenworth, a pretrial detention center that houses inmates from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Rokusek was later given an opportunity to review the recording, which included videos of meetings between other attorneys and their clients. She brought the recording’s existence to the attention of an employee of the Federal Public Defender, which led to the emergency hearing on Tuesday. … The existence of the recordings was disclosed in court by Rokusek, who was put on the witness stand by Melody Brannon, the head of the Kansas Federal Public Defender’s office. Brannon told the court that CCA had video recordings of attorney-client meetings in the contraband case spanning a 10-month period from July 2015 to April 2016. … Unknown at this point is whether CCA has recorded attorney-client meetings at its other facilities and whether it routinely turns the footage over to prosecutors. CCA manages 85 facilities for federal, state and local governments throughout the country, according to information on its website. …