"Ezekial 25:17 - The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequites of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he that shepherds the weak from the valley of darkness for he is truly his brother's keeper, and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers, and you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."
FEDERAL PROSECUTOR POWERS: IS THE FBI RECORDING YOUR CONVERSATION DOWN AT THE COURTHOUSE?
There are more criminal cases filed in state courts here in Dallas and North Texas than in the federal system, and there are a number of reasons for this. However, the power of the federal system and the impact of federal practices and federal court cases upon state and local criminal systems cannot be underestimated. It’s big.
And there were several stories in the news this past week dealing with increasing federal power in serious criminal matters that everyone in North Texas and the Dallas – Fort Worth area should be aware and concerned about, including:
1. Privacy at the Courthouse: FBI Agents Okayed to Record Conversations on County Courthouse Premises Secretly and Without a Warrant
This week, a federal judge ruled it is okay for FBI agents to secretly listen to conversations at or near county courthouses and to record those conversation, too WITHOUT ANY NEED FOR A SEARCH WARRANT.
Granted, this was a California federal district court judge and things might not turn out the same way in a Texas federal district courtroom, but the law is the law and it’s good precedent.
Lesson here: If you are at the courthouse or anywhere near it, don’t assume that your conversations are private and no one is eavesdropping. Because now the feds have a precedent that says it is acceptable for them to record whatever you might be saying there. No warrant needed.
From a criminal defense lawyer’s standpoint, there are many occasions where those federal agents might hear some juicy tidbits (from their perspective) if they were to listen into what people were discussing around the courthouse. It’s reasonable to assume that many people will be talking about legally-related things while they are there … at the courthouse.
Makes sense, right? Emotions can be high during these times, too: people can be scared for themselves or a loved one. Sometimes, people may be angry or confused while visiting the courthouse, too. Things might be said which otherwise would not in more calmer circumstances.
Witnesses, accused, friends and family offering support — everyone needs to be aware that what they say to each other on the courthouse premises might be recorded and used against them or a loved one without their knowledge or permission.