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Perverting your tax dollars- Federal prosecutors monitoring attorney-inmate emails

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When my criminal defense client is incarcerated pretrial, that makes the attorney-client relationship and case preparation all the more a challenge. When my client is not incarcerated, we may freely talk, email, and meet at any time, unmonitored by anyone, with the exception that I warn my clients not to consider email to be confidential, because people snoop and hack into emails.

When my clients are incarcerated, I am fortunate when they are housed in the jail right across the street from my office. However, even there the attorney visiting times are limited to designated three-hour time chunks at best, require waiting awhile for my client to be brought over, sometimes involve waiting for visiting booths to become free during nighttime hours, and do not give anywhere near the sense of confidentiality that my clients and I get when we meet at my office, not being monitored nor heard at my office through the partially glass doors that separate the attorney meeting booths at the jail. Also, at my office, I have immediate phone and Internet access to assist during my client discussions. Moreover, at the jail, we know we are locked in, when ideas need to flow unfettered between me and my clients.

Our tax dollars are being used to give federal inmates Internet access to their lawyers. However, this email system not only warns that such emails are not confidential, but federal prosecutors actively mine attorney-client emails to build and strengthen their cases against inmates. Such prosecutorial snooping into attorney-client communications not only is foul as attorney and prosecutor behavior goes, but is being done with our federal tax dollars paying for the prison email system, and paying for these federal prosecutors’ salaries, which tend to rank among the highest salaries o federal government lawyers. Thank to a colleague for alerting me to this pathetic state of affairs.

This entire perversion of justice is confirmed not only by this July 22, 2014, New York Times article, but also by this July 9, 2014, letter from a federal chief prosecutor in Brooklyn.

Please do not accept this perversion of justice. Please contact United States Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama, and your federal legislators (here and here) to demand a stop to this invasion of attorney-client communications.