The Latest: Attorney: US Attorney’s Office in Kansas stalled
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on a an investigation into secretly-recorded prisoners’ phone calls at a Kansas prison (all times local):
A court-appointed attorney investigating the use of secretly recorded conversations between prisoners and their attorneys says he was stunned and disappointed when he realized the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas was not cooperating with his investigation.
David Cohen, an Ohio attorney who was appointed by a federal judge to investigate the matter, testified Friday that he initially believed federal prosecutors were gathering information to help his investigation. He said it was only after several months that he realized that was not true.
Cohen was responding to testimony earlier in the day from Tom Beall, who was acting U.S. attorney in Kansas in the early months of the investigation into whether prosecutors had improperly listened to the recordings.
Beall insisted that his office had not tried to delay or circumvent Cohen’s investigation.
Cohen testified at a hearing on a motion to declare the government in contempt for its conduct during the probe.
The federal public defender’s office has asked for 67 inmates to be released from federal prison and plans to also seek freedom for more than 150 others because authorities at a Kansas prison secretly recorded conversations between the prisoners and their attorneys that are supposed to be private.
Most of the federal inmates are being held in drug or firearms-related cases.
The practice first came to light in a prison contraband case during which criminal defense lawyers discovered the privately-run Leavenworth Detention Center was routinely recording meetings and phone conversations between attorneys and their clients. A court-appointed expert was brought in to independently investigate.
A judge will hear arguments on a motion to have the government declared in contempt for its conduct during the probe.