Posted April 9, 2014 09:11 am - Updated April 10, 2014 12:11 am
By ANDREW PANTAZI firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Johns deputies violated suspect's rights with secret recording
Two St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office deputies violated a constitutional right and the federal wiretapping law, a federal court ruled, when the two secretly recorded conversations between a suspect and his attorney and forcibly took a written statement from the suspect.
Detective Thomas Marmo and Sgt. Brian Canova were investigating Joel Studivant for a potential violation against a domestic violence injunction. Marmo was interviewing Studivant with his attorney, Anne Marie Gennusa.
Studivant and Gennusa did not know they were being recorded, and Studivant began preparing a written statement. Marmo then left the room to talk to Canova. Studivant and his lawyer talked and decided not to give the statement.
Canova and Marmo watched through a hidden camera.
Marmo came back into the interview room and forcibly grabbed the written statement from the lawyer and arrested Studivant.
The criminal charges were eventually dismissed after a deferred prosecution agreement.
It doesn’t matter, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said, that Gennusa wasn’t harmed. It matters that Marmo took something that didn’t belong to him.
If Marmo believed evidence was about to be destroyed, he could argue that he could’ve taken the evidence without a warrant.
But the deputies had no reason to believe they couldn’t have obtained the evidence with a warrant.
The court also ruled the two violated Studivant’s and Gennusa’s rights by secretly recording the two.
Studivant had no reason to expect he was being recorded, the court ruled, because he wasn’t under arrest, especially because he was having a privileged conversation with his attorney.
“The government has no weighty law-enforcement, security, or penological interest in recording, without a warrant, the attorney-client conversations of a person who has not been arrested, even if those conversations take place in an interview room at a sheriff’s office,” the court ordered.
St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chuck Mulligan said he couldn’t comment because the court’s ruling can still be appealed.