Latest Abuse: Feds Reading Emails Between Prisoners And Their Lawyers

from the because-they-can dept

Another day, another story of abuse by federal prosecutors. The latest is that they're now regularly reading the emails between inmates and their lawyers. These are the kinds of things that most people believe should be part of confidential attorney-client privilege. And, for quite some time, prosecutors respected that. However, now they're claiming that since prisoners using the prison email system agree to a notice upfront saying their communications may be monitored, they gave up that right.
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.
The "divide" from judges seems pretty ridiculous. Some judges say it's okay in part because inmates have other ways to communicate privately with their lawyers, but everyone with a basis in reality notes that those "other ways" (mainly letters) take forever and really hamper the ability of an inmate to work with his or her lawyers. But, some courts just don't care.
The judge overseeing that case, Allyne R. Ross, ruled on Thursday that the government was allowed to review the emails. “The government’s policy does not ‘unreasonably interfere’ with Mr. DiFiore’s ability to consult his counsel,” she wrote.

In Dr. Ahmed’s case, the judge, Dora L. Irizarry, ruled against the government last month, barring it “from looking at any of the attorney-client emails, period.”
This certainly seems like one of those issues that's destined for the Supreme Court in the near future.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jul 2014 @ 10:10am

    I'm sure letters, phone calls, and any other form of communication is probably "monitored" because the inmates have "agree to a notice upfront saying their communications may be monitored".

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