54.2 F
Wichita
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Federal Prosecutors Defy Court Order In Cases Over Attorney-Client Recordings In Leavenworth

More than 100 inmates have sought to have their convictions vacated or their sentences reduced, claiming their Sixth Amendment rights were violated

Sports Headlines

K-State Wildcat Game Preview: Texas Tech

MANHATATN, Kan. - Following one of the largest comeback wins in school history, Kansas State returns home to host Texas Tech Saturday at Bill Snyder Family...

Kansas Jayhawk Game Preview: Oklahoma State

LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Kansas Jayhawks return home to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 3, and will host No. 17/19 Oklahoma...

Kansas Athletics to Unveil Gale Sayers and John Hadl Statues on October 3rd

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Bronze statues of legendary Kansas Football players John Hadl and Gale Sayers will be unveiled outside the Anderson Family Football Complex...

Chiefs Defeat Ravens, 34-20, on Monday Night Football

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 34-20, in dominant fashion on Monday night to preserve their perfect record and re-affirm...

Baylor Upends Kansas in Big 12 Opener, 47-14

WACO, Texas – Kansas football scored on its opening possession Saturday night at McLane Stadium while Baylor responded by scoring 40-straight points before...
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications.After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations.In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

By Dan Margolies – Kansas News Service

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas, says it will no longer cooperate with cases brought by inmates whose phone calls with their attorneys were recorded at the pretrial detention prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

In a notice filed in federal court on Thursday, the U.S. Attorney said that after consulting with the Justice Department, it “has determined that it cannot and will not comply with the Court’s July 27, 2020 discovery order, which the Department has concluded is both unreasonable and contrary to law.”

The court’s July 27 order denied a request from the U.S. Attorney’s office asking to be relieved of its duty to provide further discovery in the cases.

The U.S. Attorney’s notice is the latest twist in a years-long saga over the audio- and video-recording of attorney-client phone calls and meetings at the prison, which houses men and women charged with federal crimes who are unable to make bail. The prison is run by CoreCivic Inc., the second largest private prison operator in the United States. The company was formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America.

Four years ago, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson appointed a special master, or an independent third party, to investigate and determine whether the U.S. Attorney’s office unlawfully benefited from access to the recordings.

In a blistering opinion last August, Robinson concluded there was evidence the U.S. Attorney’s office had a “systematic practice of purposeful collection, retention and exploitation of calls” made between detainees and their attorneys.

She then held the office in contempt for disobeying her orders to preserve documents and recordings as part of the investigation, which she launched after the Federal Public Defender’s office in Kansas first brought the recordings to light.

The Justice Department has appealed her ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case is pending.

Since Robinson’s ruling, more than 100 inmates have sought to have their convictions vacated or their sentences reduced, claiming their Sixth Amendment rights were violated. Robinson has ordered the U.S. Attorney’s office to turn over emails, attachments and other documents to the inmates.

The office says it has already devoted hundreds of staff and attorney hours to complying with the court’s orders and has turned over voluminous amounts of data, including more than 20,000 documents.

But by flatly refusing to cooperate further, it now risks being held in contempt again by Robinson, as it acknowledges in the notice it filed.

“The Department understands that this decision may result in the Court imposing a sanction against the United States,” it wrote, adding that it believed that would be unwarranted and the cases can proceed to resolution without further discovery.

The Federal Public Defender’s office in Kansas, which represents the inmates and spearheaded the investigation into the recordings, declined to comment on the filing.

The 30-page document was signed by Stephen R. McAllister, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas. Although the document says the office’s decision was taken after “careful consideration and review by the Department of Justice,” no attorneys from the Justice Department signed it.

Jim Cross, a spokesman for McAllister, said the filing “speaks for itself.”

This latest twist in the recordings saga comes just weeks after CoreCivic and the operator of the prison’s telephone system, Securus Technologies Inc., agreed to pay $3.7 million to resolve a class action lawsuit brought by attorneys whose conversations with their clients were recorded at Leavenworth.

That settlement, in turn, came a year after the two companies agreed to pay $1.45 million to settle a separate class action brought by inmates.

Michael Hodgson, an attorney who represented the attorneys in the first class action case, said he had read the U.S. Attorney’s filing and had never seen anything like it in 17 years of practicing in the federal courts.

“I read it and I thought, ‘Wow,’” he said.

In its filing, the U.S. Attorney’s office said that Robinson and the special master have investigated its conduct for four years, “much as a financial auditor would minutely review a corporation’s every file and document,” irrespective of the narrow issues it says the cases present.

The U.S. Attorney claims that “there is not a shred of evidence” in any of the cases that have been brought by inmates “that any prosecutor intruded on the attorney-client relationship of any of these petitioners in order to obtain a conviction or an advantage at sentencing.”

Kansas Headlines

2020 Organic Certification Cost Share Program Now Accepting Applications

MANHATTAN, Kansas — The Kansas Department of Agriculture has funds available for the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP). Through this program, farms,...

USDA Invests Over $471,000 in Renewable Energy in Rural Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan., Sept. 23, 2020 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Kansas Lynne Hinrichsen today announced that USDA is...

Homicide investigation in Elk County

ELK COUNTY– The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) and the Elk County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a homicide that occurred in Longton,...

KDHE Amends Travel Quarantine List

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has amended its travel quarantine list to include Aruba. Aruba was previously on the...

Death Investigation Underway In Allen County

ALLEN COUNTY– The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), the Iola Police Department, and the Allen County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a death that occurred...

Kansas News Service

Kansas Nursing Homes Still Waiting On Coronavirus Testing Gear From The Feds, And Can’t Afford Labs

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen - Kansas News Service Phillips County Retirement Center got a coronavirus testing machine this month from the U.S. Department of Health and...

Scathing Federal Inspection Pulls Curtain Back On One Of Kansas’ Deadliest Coronavirus Outbreaks

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen - Kansas News Service At a Kansas City, Kansas, nursing home, employees tested positive for COVID-19 and went back to work the...

Federal Prosecutors Defy Court Order In Cases Over Attorney-Client Recordings In Leavenworth

By Dan Margolies - Kansas News Service The U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas, says it will no longer cooperate with cases brought by...

Emails Show Kansas Agencies Helped Keep Meatpacking Plants Open Despite Concerns About Coronavirus

By Corinne Boyer - Kansas News Service GARDEN CITY, Kansas — In mid-May, Finney County’s top public health physician sent an email to state health...

Kansas Teachers Could Owe Their Schools Thousands If They Quit Over Coronavirus Concerns

By Stephan Bisaha - Kansas News Service WICHITA, Kansas — Kansas teachers that don’t feel safe going back to crowded hallways as schools reopen could take...