Archive for Saturday, October 29, 2016

Government resists paying expert in prison recordings case

October 29, 2016

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Kansas City, Kan. — Government attorneys say a federal judge exceeded her authority when she ordered the Department of Justice to pay an expert to investigate possible breaches of attorney-client privilege at a private Kansas prison.

In a motion filed late Thursday, federal prosecutors claimed sovereign immunity, called the probe’s anticipated cost excessive and unreasonable, and said the case isn’t the right place to address the practices of an independent contractor.

Earlier this month U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson appointed Ohio attorney David R. Cohen as special master to review hundreds of hours of video and audio recordings at the Corrections Corp. of America prison in Leavenworth. She set his pay at $500 an hour and ordered the government to foot the bill.

Defense attorneys pushed for an investigation after discovering that their meetings with clients in conference rooms at the prison were being recorded without audio. They were further alarmed when they found out that some of their phone conversations with inmates also were being recorded without their knowledge.

The recordings came to light in August after federal prosecutors tried to force a defense attorney off two cases using footage subpoenaed by a grand jury in a broad contraband probe at the prison, according to court documents.

Prosecutors told Robinson last month they did not consent to her appointment of a special master under the parameters she set — including possibly having Cohen investigate the actions of some of the prosecutors themselves.

They estimated Cohen’s investigation could cost well more than $1 million, but noted that even if it were only half that, $500,000 would represent 120 percent of the Kansas office’s budget this fiscal year for litigation-related expenses.

Cohen met with attorneys on both sides of the case for the first time Friday to discuss information he was seeking from them.

Robinson said she would hear the government’s motion to reconsider after the federal public defender’s office has a chance to file a response.

Comments

Calvin Anders 1 year, 1 month ago

You got to love the nerve of a federal prosecutor who claims sovereign immunity when the government is more or less caught red handed in a huge, systematic conspiracy to violate attorney client privileged as a matter of course. But that's where we are right now. The government thinks it should be able to spy on everyone without interference from the law. They view the Constitution as applying to everyone else but not themselves. I'm confident the judge in this case will laugh them out of court on this motion, but the larger issue is that this prosecutor thinks he can make this kind of move and it will not reflect badly on him or his office. The problem is that there is not enough public interest or understanding of the issue to shame these guys into reasonable behavior. In any sane society there would be loud cries for his resignation. In any sane society the exposure of the taping of attorney inmate conversations would have resulted in firings and criminal charges already.

Gary Pomeroy 1 year, 1 month ago

It is incomprehensible to me that the U. S. Attorney's Office would think this (taping attorney-client phone calls and meeting - even without audio) would be OK. While this is done by a contractor, it is still attributable to the government as they gave the contract and evidently did not monitor their contractor very well. This does not even pass the giggle test.

Gary Pomeroy 1 year, 1 month ago

"They estimated Cohen’s investigation could cost well more than $1 million, but noted that even if it were only half that, $500,000 would represent 120 percent of the Kansas office’s budget this fiscal year for litigation-related expenses." So if I get fined and cannot afford it I can use this defense to avoid paying it?

Greg Cooper 1 year, 1 month ago

Gary, Kansas has spent untold multiples of that amount defending unconstitutional, unworkable, unneeded laws. Why would anyone think this defense is beyond them?

Gary Pomeroy 1 year, 1 month ago

Well, hope does spring eternal . . . . :)

Randall Uhrich 1 year, 1 month ago

The" Corrections Corp. of America prison in Leavenworth."? Have we already privatized our prisons? I don't remember voting on that! What's next? The entire law enforcement infrastructure? Bonuses for arrests? More reason to mistrust those in charge (Brownback et al.,)

Beth Newman 1 year, 1 month ago

The entire law enforcement infrastructure was captured when the police departments across the cpuntry armed up with military equipment from Iraq mainly...they've been bought out for at least 12 years...my goodness... Who doesn't get this long existing reality??

Gary Pomeroy 1 year, 1 month ago

FYI: CCA Leavenworth is a private facility that predominantly houses individuals in the federal system both pre-trial, and post-trial prior to being sent to the federal prison system. (No, i am not affiliated in any way with CCA).

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