The Teddy Bear Did It! Secret Recording Leads to Suit Against Ex-Wife
A Nebraska man is suing his ex-wife and former father-in-law, accusing them of spying on him by hiding a recording device inside his daughter's teddy bear. William Duane Lewton claims his ex-wife and her dad attempted to present the audio recordings in the couples' divorce proceedings (the judge in the case found that they violated Nebraska's wiretapping law and couldn't be used as evidence).
The lawsuit also raises issues regarding professional ethics, as it apparently includes Lewton's ex-wife's former attorney William Bianco, Bianco's partner Chris Perrone, and their firm, suggesting that they took part in the ill-fated spying attempt. However, Perrone disclaimed any responsibility for the recordings, stating "we had nothing to do with it" and "we did not advise her to do so." Further, he stated that Dianna Divingnzzo was no longer a client, and that she herself presented the recordings in court. An attorney risks the almost certain loss of their license, in addition to the potential legal consequences of the act itself, if they advise their client to break the law (or if they fail to advise them not to, upon finding out their intent).
Most states make eavesdropping illegal, and secretly recording telephone calls (or wiretapping) without adequate permission or court order is prohibited by federal law. In some states it's even illegal for parents to eavesdrop on their own children. Unlike audio recording devices, the legality of hidden cameras varies from state to state, and the location where videotaping is being done is usually one of the crucial factors. Various states expressly prohibit the unauthorized installation or use of cameras in private places. People should be aware that the penalties for violating most of these laws are severe, however, as they can be felony offenses.
- Neb. man sues ex-wife for putting recorder in toy (AP)
- Family Law Center (FindLaw)
- State by State Summaries of Recording Laws (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
- Nebraska Recording Laws (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
- Seattle Times: Eavesdropping against law even for parent, court says
- Stages of Divorce Proceedings (provided by Olup & Associates LLC)
- Divorce Resources (FindLaw)
- Surveillance Cameras in the Workplace (FindLaw)
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