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US: Judge allows courthouse recordings in bid-rigging case

 |  July 20, 2017

Last year, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of the Northern District of California prevented prosecutors from introducing over 200 hours of recordings that were captured without warrants as evidence in a real-estate bid-rigging case. The offending recordings were made by planting equipment outside a San Mateo courthouse.

More recently, on July 19, Breyer released a 13 page decision (available HERE) detailing that evidence related to these recordings, but not obtained illegally, was admissible. Examples of this evidence are recordings made with body microphones, video surveillance and, more controversially, testimony from cooperators who had been played snippets from the forbidden recordings.

In his decision, Breyer wrote, “That Agent X unlawfully obtained evidence on Date Y regarding Property Z does not put all evidence lawfully obtained by Agent X, on Date Y, or regarding Property Z off-limits for all time. It puts the offending evidence off-limits, along with other evidence discovered as a proximate result of the violation, but that’s it.”

The judge also established that it was defense counsel’s responsibility to demonstrate that evidence procured by legal means could not have been obtained by government without the information from the illegal recordings.

In response to Breyer’s decision, Matthew Jacobs of Vinson & Elkins, one of the defense lawyers, said, “The court has already determined that the Department of Justice and FBI acted illegally in undertaking this secret wiretapping plan. Nothing about the court’s decision changes that ruling.

Full Content: The Recorder

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