By David Lindsey Attorney of David Lindsey, Attorney at Law posted in Criminal Defense on Tuesday, October 25, 2011.
The Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that an inmate’s phone call to relatives with instructions for his attorney does not fall under the protection of “attorney-client privilege”. The court has found that, because the inmate knew that his calls were being recorded, he did not have a “reasonable expectation of confidentiality”, and that he could have contacted his attorney directly without being monitored.
The ruling upheld the trial judge’s decision to allow the inmate’s recorded calls to be admitted into evidence by the prosecution, who sought to prove the inmate’s “consciousness of guilt” of the drug crimes for which he stood accused.
The prosecution maintained that, when Joel Rodriguez phoned his sister and gave her instructions to pass along to his defense attorney regarding his desire to plead guilty to drug charges prior to indictment, he did so with full knowledge that the conversation would be recorded. Because the sister was not a “necessary intermediary”, they argued that privilege was not applicable.
Defense attorneys argued that, because the conversation dealt with “key attorney duties” such as plea negotiations, it was covered by attorney-client privilege. The appeals panel disagreed, and felt that the inmate should have contacted his attorney directly, or simply asked his sister to convey a message to the attorney stating that he wished to discuss a plea.