Orange County Public Defenders Get Involved in Inmate Calls Issue

posted by City News Service - 

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Offices of the Orange County Public Defender attorneys today asked an Orange County Superior Court judge to appoint a special master to examine records of more than 1,000 improperly recorded calls of jail inmates to their lawyers.

The attorneys also want a judge to prevent prosecutors, the county counsel's office or Orange County sheriff's officials from accessing the recordings. The attorneys also asked Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett to order any law enforcement agency that has obtained the recordings to return copies to a special master and destroy any other copies.

The office also wants help determining which of their clients had their phone calls recorded and for a special master to decide what can be turned over to any of the lawyers involved in the cases without violating the attorney-client privilege.

It was revealed in court last week that Global Tel Link Corporation, which provides phone inmate services, has blamed the problem on a software upgrade in January 2015. That revelation came in the attempted murder case against Joshua Waring, the son of a former “Real Housewives of Orange County” cast member.

Waring's attorney, Joel Garson, said on Friday he found 33 phone calls made by multiple murder defendant Shazer Fernando Limas to his attorneys were recorded over the past few years. Limas is charged with killing his girlfriend and their two sons, ages 1 and 3 months.

Garson is seeking to have Orange County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Fish dump charges for a second time against Waring. Waring's case was dismissed previously based on issues related to his preliminary hearing when he was representing himself as his own attorney. If the case is dumped again he can't be charged again.

Darren Wallace, GTL's executive vice president, is set to testify on Thursday about the software glitch he alerted Orange County Sheriff's Department officials about last month. Attorneys were working to determine whose calls were recorded and which ones may have been accessed by law enforcement or prosecutors.

Wallace acknowledged in a letter to sheriff's officials to recording 1,079 inmate telephone calls to “do not record” designations.

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said last week she would ask the county's Office of Independent Review to examine the issue. She said she has also directed GTL to correct the problem and discontinue recording the calls.

The problem could undo multiple cases as attorneys argue the possibility that law enforcement or prosecutors gained an unfair advantage by listening to the calls, which are private by law.

Of the recorded calls it appears that at least 58 were accessed by law enforcement officials 87 times, defense attorneys argued on Monday. What's unclear is if that represents 58 inmates or if it is less inmates having calls recorded multiple times.

Photo: Getty Images

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