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