Wichita County Sheriff Recording Attorney/Client Conversations?!

An attorney with the Wichita County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association has informed me that attorney client conversations are being recorded at the jail. The WCCDLA has pled with Sheriff Tom Callahan to end this practice to no avail.

My first job out of law school was with the Wichita County Public Defender. I remember three things about the Wichita County Jail.
1. It was disgusting.
2. There was no attorney client visitation area.To visit with a client attorneys must use the public visitation area. The parties are separated by glass and must talk through telephones. (I used to bring antibacterial wipes to wipe these phones down before use. Talking into these phones was like putting your ear up to a public toilet).
3. Inmates could smoke cigarettes (most jails ban the practice). The county made a killing selling roll your own cigarettes and the place smelled like a pool hall.

Recording Attorney Client Conversations
Before the attorney and client speak they are notified by a recorded message that all conversations are being recorded. The defense attorney has a choice; speak with his client and hope the Sheriff doesn’t send the tape to the DA, or never speak with his client!

The right to counsel includes the right to confidential communication. Unfortunately, in Texas the practice of recording inmate conversations, including attorney/client, is widespread.

I have sent an open records request to confirm this practice. I’ll post whatever they send. Until then, here is the contact information for the Wichita County Sheriff- let them know what you think about this policy.

Wichita County Sheriff
900 7th Street
Wichita Falls, TX 76301

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One response to “Wichita County Sheriff Recording Attorney/Client Conversations?!”

  1. anonymous says:

    Mr. Guest,
    To the south of you in Cherokee County, TX the sheriff has both denied tape recording inmates’ cell block payphone calls (even in cases of them making harassing collect calls) AND openly admitted (at trial) Cherokee Co. prosecutors use recorded attorney-client calls against incarcerated defendants.

    The fact is the law (of attorney-client privilige during jailhouse calls) cannot be enforced when appellate courts whitewash the illegal practice by ruling “the legality of the conduct [of tape recording jail house calls] was a question of law for the trial court.” And basically passing the buck back to the county doing the illegal recording.

    The appeals courts make illegal phone tapping basically legal for the District Attorney, sheriff deputies, jailers, et al – even when they admit to the practice. Texas appeals courts are aware of the interception of Attorney Client conversations by deeming the admission of jail cell phone calls to be “no material conflict in the evidence.”
    See the case:
    This practice is Hush Hush in rural East Texas counties because of the widespread illegally phone tapping of law enforcement.
    Rule of thumb: if you don’t want it recorded, don’t talk about it on the phone.

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