Friday, July 2, 2010

Polk jail to record inmate-lawyer calls starting July 1

Published: June 23, 2010

BARTOW - Polk County jail officials plan to start recording calls between inmates and their lawyers starting July 1.

The jail has been routinely recording inmate telephone calls, but calls to attorneys have been exempt.

Sheriff Grady Judd said the Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that jail officials can record client-attorney phone calls. Judd said tapes of those conversations could be used in court.

: "We're allowed to record these conversations, and why wouldn't we record the conversations in order to make the best prosecutable case to protect the victims and prosecute the criminal defendants. Why wouldn't we do that," the sheriff said.

J. Marion Moorman, the public defender for the 10th Judicial Circuit, which includes Polk, said his lawyers will stop accepting calls from their inmate clients.

"The client may be calling for the most innocuous information, you know what time is my next court hearing, and then starts to blurt out the most incriminating sorts of things, and we have no control over that of course," Moorman said.

The sheriff said attorneys can still have confidential conversations with inmates via video conferencing or in face-to-face meetings.

"We're not telling them you can't have unfettered access to your clients. You can, and it's really simple. Come to the jail 24/7," Judd said.

But Moorman said that will cost more taxpayer money for attorneys from his publically funded office to travel to the jail. Moorman said the sheriff "does not have to do this. He has chosen to do this for reasons of his own."

Judd counters that he surveyed a few dozen inmates and they preferred personal meetings with their attorneys.

"Do you know what they had to say? 'This is great. Now we can see our lawyer before we show up in court on court day," he said.

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