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Thread: Prosecutors Are Reading Emails From Inmates to Lawyers

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    Prosecutors Are Reading Emails From Inmates to Lawyers

    By STEPHANIE CLIFFORDJULY 22, 2014

    The extortion case against Thomas DiFiore, a reputed boss in the Bonanno crime family, encompassed thousands of pages of evidence, including surveillance photographs, cellphone and property records, and hundreds of hours of audio recordings.

    But even as Mr. DiFiore sat in a jail cell, sending nearly daily emails to his lawyers on his case and his deteriorating health, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn sought to add another layer of evidence: those very emails. The prosecutors informed Mr. DiFiore last month that they would be reading the emails sent to his lawyers from jail, potentially using his own words against him.

    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.

    “It’s very troubling that the government’s pushing to the margins of the attorney-client relationship,” said Ellen C. Yaroshefsky, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law.

    Defense lawyers say the government is overstepping its authority and taking away a necessary tool for an adequate defense. Some of them have refused to admit even the existence of sensitive emails — which, they say, perhaps predictably, are privileged.

    All defendants using the federal prison email system, Trulincs, have to read and accept a notice that communications are monitored, prosecutors in Brooklyn pointed out. 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.

    continued at...http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/ny...yers.html?_r=0
    "The Patriarch"



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    Another brick in the foundation of the Amerikan police state panopticon....



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