SAN LEANDRO (KPIX) – Recent criminal cases involving juveniles are now being reviewed in Alameda County after accusations that Sheriff’s deputies were recording confidential conversations between juvenile suspects and their attorneys.
The Public Defender says the problem stretches far beyond the Bay Area.
One case in Alameda County has been thrown out, and several others may have the same fate.
On one video, you can see Timothy Schellenburg scratching his head as Sergeant James Russell admits he recorded a privileged conversation between an attorney and a juvenile accused of robbery back in March.
“Did you record that?” someone asks. “I did but it’s not admissible,” says Russell.
The recording happened just after the arrest at the Eden Township Substation in San Leandro.
“Attorney-client privilege is one of the most basic rights we have as a civil society,” said Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods. “You can talk to your attorney, you can trust your attorney. Once you have people listening to those conversations. your rights just evaporate.”
Woods filed a motion against the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office on Monday that would require them to simply follow the law and stop recording privileged information between juveniles and their attorneys.
He said he thinks this is a statewide epidemic of law enforcement officers knowingly breaking this law.
“It’s happened in L.A. recently,” said Woods. “It’s happened in Orange County recently where they recorded over 1,000 phone calls from clients to their attorney in jail. That’s illegal and it can’t happen.”
A case involving a juvenile and two others accused of robbery and evading arrest by leading police on a high-speed chase has been dropped due to Alameda County’s Sheriff Department conduct.
The recording indicates other cases may have been recorded in a similar fashion.
Sgt. Ray Kelly, the spokesperson for the sheriff’s department came out Monday morning to say they have taken corrective action, and this won’t happen again.
“This activity, this conduct has stopped,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly. “Anytime you have a violation of that trust, that erodes the public’s confidence in you. We’re here to say today, we’re going to hold ourselves accountable.”
The Public Defender’s motion will be heard on Friday.