Beware of Jailhouse Telephone Communications, Even With Your Lawyer!
Updated: Apr 15
By Clayton T. Robertson, Attorney-at-Law (Criminal Defense Attorney)
If you've ever been suspicious about whether your jailhouse telephone communications with your lawyer are being monitored, even though you've been led to believe they aren't, then beware! A notice of a recent proposed class action settlement involving Securus Technologies, Inc., a major jailhouse telephone call vendor, was recently issued. To obtain more details on the proposed settlement, see text further below (and see the link at the end of this post). For more details on the allegations in the underlying case, see documents listed here: https://securusrecordingsettlement.com/important-documents/.
More generally, eavesdropping on or recording jail inmates' phone calls to attorneys (as well to religious advisers and licensed physicians) without permission from all parties constitutes a felony. (Pen. Code, § 636(a).)
§ 636(a): Every person who, without permission from all parties to the conversation, eavesdrops on or records, by means of an electronic device, a conversation, or any portion thereof, between a person who is in the physical custody of a law enforcement officer or other public officer, or who is on the property of a law enforcement agency or other public agency, and that person’s attorney, religious adviser, or licensed physician, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
“Where the government intrudes into the attorney-client relationship to obtain privileged information, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel may be violated. This usually involves some type of government misconduct, such as infiltrating the defense by planting informants or intercepting confidential communications." (People v. Navarro (2006) 138 Cal.App.4th 146, 157.)
CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT NOTICE
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT OR THE CLERK'S OFFICE A court authorized this notice. This is not a solicitation. This is not a lawsuit against you, and you are not being sued. However, your legal rights are affected by whether you act or don’t act. TO: Every person who was a party to any portion of a conversation between a person who was in the physical custody of a law enforcement officer or other public officer in California, and that person’s attorney, on a telephone number designated or requested not to be recorded, any portion of which was eavesdropped on or recorded by Defendant Securus Technologies, Inc. by means of an electronic device during the period from July 10, 2008 through whichever occurs first: (1) the date on which the court grants preliminary approval of the settlement; or (2) 60 days after the full execution of the settlement agreement.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of California has granted preliminary approval to a proposed settlement (“Settlement”) in the case captioned Juan Romero, Frank Tiscareno, and Kenneth Elliott, et al. v. Securus Technologies, Inc., No. 16-cv-1283 JMM (MDD) (“Lawsuit”). Because your rights may be affected by this Settlement, it is important that you carefully read this Class Action Settlement Notice (“Notice”). The Court has certified the following class for settlement purposes (“Class” or “Class Members”):
Every person who was a party to any portion of a conversation between a person who was in the physical custody of a law enforcement officer or other public officer in California, and that person’s attorney, on a telephone number designated or requested not to be recorded, any portion of which was eavesdropped on or recorded by Defendant Securus Technologies, Inc. by means of an electronic device during the period from July 10, 2008 through whichever occurs first: (1) the date on which the court grants preliminary approval of the settlement; or (2) 60 days after the full execution of the settlement agreement.
A Preliminarily Approval Hearing was held on June 6, 2020, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. The Court has certified the Class, conditionally approved it for settlement purposes, and directed that you receive this Notice. The Lawsuit alleges that Securus unlawfully recorded detainee-attorney calls telephone calls made using Securus’ telephone systems within certain California correctional facilities. The Court has not determined whether the Lawsuit has any merit. In other words, the Court has not determined whether Securus violated any laws, and has not decided in favor of Plaintiffs or Securus; instead, both sides agreed to settle the Lawsuit with no decision or admission of who is right or wrong. By agreeing to resolve the Lawsuit, all parties avoid the risk and costs of a trial. Securus expressly denies that it did anything wrong or that it violated any law, and further denies any liability whatsoever to Plaintiffs and to the Class.
Plaintiffs and Class counsel believe the settlement is fair and reasonable. The Court must also review the terms of the settlement to determine if it is fair and reasonable to the Class. The Court file has the settlement documents, which explain the settlement in greater detail. If you would like copies of the settlement documents, you can contact the persons whose contact information is below, and you may receive or be provided access to an electronic copy free of charge.
If the settlement is approved, Securus will make available to its current and future California facility customers a “Private Call” option, at no additional charge by Securus, that allows persons who intend to make calls to a telephone number designated and approved by a Securus facility customer to complete such calls without being recorded (e.g., an attorney, medical provider, or clergy telephone number). The telephone numbers designated and approved by a Securus facility customer are referred to herein as an “Approved Number”. Approved Numbers will so indicate at the beginning of a call. If the dialed number is an Approved Number, the call will be connected and will not be recorded. If the dialed number is not an Approved Number, the call will not be completed. In the latter circumstance, the calling party may elect to either call the same number via other, non-Private-Call options, in which case the call will be recorded and may be monitored, or attempt to call a different Approved Number, if applicable.
The following message prompts will be made available to the California facility customer to be used as alternatives to its standard message prompts: (1) for all calls to non-Approved Numbers, a prompt advising that the call will be recorded and may be monitored, along with basic instructions to contact the facility and request Approved Number treatment; and (2) for all calls to Approved Numbers, a prompt advising that the call will not be recorded and cannot be monitored.
Except for the class representatives, the class will not receive any payment because the Settlement Agreement provides only for injunctive relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) and requires no release of any monetary claims or remedies by any member of the Settlement Class.
If you are in the class defined above, your rights may be affected by this settlement. You may file with the Court objections to the settlement by August 30, 2020. The Court will hold a hearing in this case on September 28, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. to consider whether to approve the settlement. You may ask to appear at the hearing, either in person or through an attorney of your choosing. For further information regarding the settlement and your rights to participate or object, visit http://www.securusrecordingsettlement.com or write to Securus Recording Settlement Administration, P.O. Box 2031 Tustin, CA 92781. PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT OR THE CLERK'S OFFICE
ILYM ID: SETE006664