After accepting the endorsement of Maine’s largest police union, Republican candidate for governor Paul LePage on Monday mentioned Maine felony protection legal professionals have been “reckless” for permitting their cellphone calls with jailed purchasers to be recorded.
4 county jails recorded almost 1,000 cellphone calls individuals in jail made to legal professionals in a 12 months and a few recordings have been shared with police or prosecutors who listened to these calls, an ongoing investigation by The Maine Monitor has discovered. LePage mentioned legal professionals ought to have the flexibility and data to not put their purchasers in danger by permitting the jails to file their calls.
“The legal professionals ought to be certain that they’re not being recorded,” LePage mentioned.
“If the legal professional represents this particular person, the legal professional then can’t be so reckless,” he added after a press convention to just accept the endorsement of the Maine Fraternal Order of Police.
LePage’s remarks try to put the duty for the recorded cellphone calls on the legal professionals, somewhat than jail directors or the telecom firm that put in the cellphone methods in most Maine county jails.
However there hasn’t been a straightforward or constant course of for legal professionals to dam their calls from being recorded on the state’s jails, mentioned Jeremy Pratt, president-elect of the Maine Affiliation of Prison Protection Attorneys. Even when attorneys do notify the jails of their cellphone numbers, some are nonetheless recorded, he mentioned.
“In lots of of those cases of the recordings, the amenities have been placed on discover that the quantity that’s being known as is an legal professional’s cellphone quantity,” Pratt mentioned in an interview. “It’s important for attorneys to have the ability to confidentially converse to their purchasers — each on the phone and in-person — so as to symbolize them.”
Pratt mentioned he hopes that LePage will work with protection legal professionals on an answer if he’s elected once more as governor.
The Somerset County Jail recorded Pratt and a consumer’s cellphone name and launched the recording to the legal professional common’s workplace in 2020. A prosecutor heard a portion of the decision and acknowledged Pratt’s voice earlier than notifying his supervisors and Pratt.
Pratt’s expertise will not be an remoted incident. Dozens of legal professionals representing almost 200 defendants have been recorded by Aroostook, Androscoggin, Franklin and Kennebec county jails between June 2019 and Might 2020, information obtained by The Maine Monitor later confirmed.
A number of legislation enforcement companies in Maine have since acknowledged accessing a few of these calls. Maine State Police detectives reported listening to components of homicide suspects cellphone calls with their legal professionals in 2020 and 2021, after being given recordings by jails. Drug enforcement brokers mentioned additionally they have been conscious of recordings of “privileged jail calls” of their investigations or associated felony prosecutions. Jail directors, county workers and out of doors legislation enforcement officers in Aroostook County listened to 58 recordings and downloaded 17 extra recordings of a lawyer’s cellphone calls together with his purchasers on the Aroostook County Jail, The Maine Monitor reported.
LePage mentioned he was not conversant in The Maine Monitor’s reporting.
“If it’s being carried out, the attorneys must be made conscious of it and, frankly, the police must make individuals conscious that when you’re coming into our facility, you’re prone to be recorded,” LePage mentioned.
In some jails, inmates are instructed their cellphone calls can be monitored and recorded, with one exception: calls with their lawyer. Directions to inmates on the Aroostook County Jail mentioned, “All calls besides to attorneys can be monitored and recorded.”
Securus Applied sciences, the corporate that put in the jails’ cellphone methods, added a whole lot of protection attorneys’ cellphone numbers in Might 2020 and once more in Might 2022 to its system to dam new recordings in response to issues from state officers.
LePage served as Maine’s governor from 2011 to 2019 and left workplace after reaching the state’s time period restrict. He’s difficult his successor Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, because the Republican gubernatorial nominee within the November election.
Throughout a joint press convention with the police union on Monday, LePage outlined a tough-on-drugs agenda, that may use jail as a pathway to getting individuals into detox with the potential for expunging their felony data if they may keep sober for a 12 months. He additionally proposed to ship individuals who overdose a invoice for being administered a second dose of Narcan — a life-saving nasal spray that may reverse an opioid overdose.
Protection legal professionals largely supported a invoice launched within the state Legislature earlier this 12 months that may have levied monetary penalties towards police or prosecutors who listened to conversations between attorneys and folks in legislation enforcement custody. The invoice was changed with a examine committee and a report is due in November.
“If all the edges would simply cease pointing fingers at one another and provide you with an answer, it feels prefer it might be carried out pretty shortly and pretty simply,” Pratt mentioned.
This story was initially printed by The Maine Monitor. The Maine Monitor is an area journalism product printed by The Maine Middle for Public Curiosity Reporting, a nonpartisan and nonprofit civic information group.