During a hearing last week in Shelbyville, Missouri, a state judge ruled that the Columbia Police Department acted unconstitutionally by recording attorney-client phone calls. Because the hearing was not for a case against CPD, the department has not yet faced consequences.
The hearing was for Moniteau County prosecutor Shayne Healea, who was arrested in October 2014 for driving through the front window of Addison's in downtown Columbia and injuring four people. Healea was charged with assault and driving while intoxicated.
While in custody, a private conversation between Healea and his attorney, Shane Farrow, was recorded by a Columbia police officer. The conversation was reportedly one that many clients have with their attorneys in drunk driving cases about the decision to comply with a breathalyzer test.
The 41st circuit judge, Frederick Tucker, ruled that by recording the phone call, CPD violated the U.S. Constitution and Missouri state law. According to the court report, he also ruled that the conversation may not be used as evidence. However, this does not mean the DWI case will be dismissed.
Earlier this year, attorney Stephen Wyse filed complaints against CPD for recording attorney-client phone calls after learning about the Healea case. The complaints are still being processed. Wyse has also sent multiple letters to Boone County Prosecutor Daniel Knight to look into the case and determine if there is a pattern of this behavior at the department.
“Frankly, I’ve had a lot of attorney-client phone conversations and phone calls with clients at the Columbia Police Department,” Wyse said. “If they’re recording my phone calls, I want someone to answer for it. It’s just outrageous.”
CPD declined to comment on the ruling.
Edited by Madi McVan | firstname.lastname@example.org