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Hullabaloo


Sunday, July 27, 2014

 
What is this attorney client privilege you speak of?

by digby

Unbelievable:
Jailhouse conversations have been many a defendant’s downfall through incriminating words spoken to inmates or visitors, or in phone calls to friends or relatives. Inmates’ calls to or from lawyers, however, are generally exempt from such monitoring. But across the country, federal prosecutors have begun reading prisoners’ emails to lawyers — a practice wholly embraced in Brooklyn, where prosecutors have said they intend to read such emails in almost every case.

The issue has spurred court battles over whether inmates have a right to confidential email communications with their lawyers — a question on which federal judges have been divided.

An incarcerated former Pennsylvania state senator got into further trouble in 2011 when prosecutors seized his prison emails. In Georgia, officials built a contempt case against a man already in federal prison in part by using emails between him and his lawyers obtained in 2011. And in Austin, Tex., defense lawyers have accused members of law enforcement of recording attorney-client calls from jails, then using that information to tighten their cases.
Isn't that special? And guess what their excuse is? You won't believe it:
[Judge] Dora L. Irizarry, ruled against the government last month, barring it “from looking at any of the attorney-client emails, period.”

She seemed to take particular offense at an argument by a prosecutor, F. Turner Buford, who suggested that prosecutors merely wanted to avoid the expense and hassle of having to separate attorney-client emails from other emails sent via Trulincs. The government was not otherwise interested in the contents of those messages, he said.
It's too expensive. They're just trying to save the taxpayer's money, dontcha know:
Prosecutors once had a “filter team” to set aside defendants’ emails to and from lawyers, but budget cuts no longer allow for that, they said.

While prosecutors say there are other ways for defense lawyers to communicate with clients, defense lawyers say those are absurdly inefficient...

Dr. Ahmed’s case includes 50,000 pages of documents so far, including “Medicare claim data and patient information that we need Dr. Ahmed’s assistance to understand,” Mr. Fodeman wrote. Especially since he is acting as a public defender in this case — meaning the government pays him at $125 per hour — Mr. Fodeman argued that having to arrange an in-person visit or unmonitored phone call for every small question on the case was a waste of money and time.
There seems to be a real shift in people's perceptions of our legal system. There used to be a common understanding that everyone deserved a fair trial and that defense lawyers were a necessary part of the system. We're now seeing attorneys being denied confirmation to government posts on the basis of who they have represented and those who are running for office are being attacked for the same reason. Some have even done time for what would have been considered minor infractions in the past because they are representing a convicted terrorist. Now we see that prosecutors are commonly reading privileged communications between accused criminals and their lawyers. And according to the article, despite the reaction of the judge in the excerpt above, plenty of other judges are a-ok with that.

I guess we just don't have enough people in prison so we need to rig the system even more:


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