Jail report details recordings of attorney/client consultations

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CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. – WINK News is learning more about the Charlotte County Jail recording  conversations between an attorney and his client. The chief public defender in the county believes the conversations protected by the attorney-client privilege are in the hands of the prosecution.

The attorney-client privilege is, at all times, supposed to be confidential. The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, clearly violated that privilege. WINK News is learning the extent of that violation.

A motion was filed last week by the chief public defender in Charlotte County asking a judge to remove the entire state attorney’s office from the murder case of Dwayne Johnson, who will find himself on trial next month. Back in September, he allegedly shot and killed a man, firing three bullets into his head, all over a cocaine deal gone bad.

Last month, the public defender was notified by the state attorney’s office that at least one of his consultations with Johnson was recorded. In the 11 page report released, it reveals that since April of 2011, almost four years ago, 1,905 attorney-client privileged conversations were possibly recorded. The report says, of those, only four were sent to the State Attorney’s Office, one was given to a detective, two of those were partially viewed then turned off.

Russell Kirshy has been an attorney in Charlotte County for over 20 years.

“1,900 is crazy it’s absolutely crazy. I mean, what I was hoping for was that they were gonna discover that it was one, or that it was 10, something like that. It didn’t even occur to me that there was a chance that it would be 1,900 different times.”

The sheriff’s office says the reason is, that there was a software glitch at computer terminals and a discrepancy with the typing system incorrectly identified when a conversation was supposed to be private.

“I can’t imagine that a detective actually pushed a button to record, purposely record 1,900 conversations, I mean, they don’t have the time to be sitting there recording individual conversations 1,900 times, that’s like a full time job,” added Kirshy.

The sheriff’s office says there’s now a drop down system in place with a double check system which fixed the problem.

“That’s the concern pretty much on everybody’s mind, where do we go from here,” Kirshy explained. “Every defense attorney in the county who has a client who’s spent any time in the jail is going to have to make some sort of request, some sort of motion to determine whether any of their conversations have been compromised.”

Visitors, including attorneys, come to this building right here where they do a video conference with an inmate. That system is provided by an outside vendor which is essentially where the sheriff’s office is placing the blame.

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