The warnings that we so often give clients..."Don't say too much on the phone" has taken a dangerous turn with this story from Florida. The Polk County Sheriff stated that he intended to incorporate a policy change based upon a case from the Florida Supreme Court that held that an inmate does not have an expectation of privacy if there is a warning that the call might be recorded. Full story here
The Sheriff's Office had exempted lawyer-client calls from its general policy of monitoring and recording jail telephone calls. Lawyers could register their telephone numbers so the calls wouldn't be monitored.
But Sheriff Grady Judd said a recent decision of the Florida Supreme Court stated inmates have no reasonable expectation of privacy if they're warned that the calls are being recorded.
"The bottom line is this is the law," Judd said. "We are enforcing the law. We didn't make this law. The courts have decided it."
A letter dated May 27 was sent to explain the agency's policy change.
"I could have done it immediately, but I gave them 30 days' notice so they could prepare for this," he said.
Judd said he was seizing another avenue to gather evidence to use against defendants.
"I am going to send the best information I can to the state attorney for us to prosecute criminals that are in our jail system," he said.
The Public Defender for the County noted the added costs to an already burdened system with the policy given that public defenders would no longer be able to discuss a client's case over the phone, increasing trips to the jail:
Public Defender J. Marion Moorman....[said] the policy change will waste precious resources and puts further demands on a burdened criminal justice system.
"Every year, it seems like there is just one more hurdle placed in the way of getting our job done efficiently and effectively," he said. "This, I feel, is just totally ridiculous."
Moorman said his office is still analyzing what it might cost to stop accepting telephone calls from the jail.