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Judge Says ‘No’ to Tripp’s Immunity

December 14, 1999

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) _ A judge ruled today that Linda Tripp didn’t have federal immunity when she turned over her secret tapes of Monica Lewinsky to Kenneth Starr’s office. It was a victory for state prosecutors planning to try Mrs. Tripp on wiretapping charges.

Howard County Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure ruled that Mrs. Tripp’s immunity didn’t begin until Feb. 19, 1998, when a federal judge signed an immunity order.

Mrs. Tripp’s lawyers had argued that she had immunity starting Jan. 16, 1998, the day she turned over the tapes to Starr’s prosecutors.

The judge’s order appears to clear the way for the state to use the tapes against Mrs. Tripp.

Maryland law forbids recording a phone conversation without the other party’s consent. Mrs. Tripp’s attorneys have argued that her cooperation with Starr’s investigation of President Clinton protected her from prosecution on state wiretap charges.

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