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Over 1,000 phone calls between clients and attorneys have been recorded due to a technical error made by the Orange County jail system's telecom service provider. Whoops. But what do you expect when the telecom service provider is named GTL.
And if you thought this news was juicy enough on its own, then you'll likely be pleasantly surprised to learn that the discovery of the recorded calls is loosely connected to the reality TV series Real Housewives of Orange County.
Real Housewives of Orange County actress Lauri Peterson's son, Joshua Waring, was on trial for murder in real, live, actual, not-reality-TV, court. Waring's attorney suspected that his client's calls were being recorded while Waring was self-represented, and after some investigation, discovered some rather outrageous government conduct, which he believes warrants the dismissal of his client's case. Essentially, due to a "computer glitch," GTL recorded the 1,000 plus calls of incarcerated individuals with their attorneys, and many of these recordings were shared.
As reported by the Huffington Post, this has been an ongoing problem since, at least or approximately, 2015. Additionally, as HuffPost was told, a vast majority of the recorded calls were placed to public defenders, and when confronted, the sheriff department admitted that there were no actions taken to advise defense attorneys and defendants that their privacy rights were breached.
What Privacy Rights?
Some jurisdictions across the country don't recognize any right to privacy for inmates and in custody individuals due to the (arguable, and highly contested) fact that there is no "reasonable expectation of privacy" when a person's in custody. However, this "fact" is simply complicated when you consider pretrial detainees, and the role defense attorneys, and particularly public defenders, must fulfill.
Sadly, these attorney-client privacy breaches aren't confined to constitutionally casual jurisdictions and the Orange County, there have been incidents across the country such as Florida and Texas. Additionally, given the technical capability and ease these days of law enforcement to record inmate communications, it is expected that problems like those in the OC are more widespread than anyone could know.