The Latest: Assistant US attorney won’t answer questions
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on a federal judge hearing evidence in a Kansas prison recordings case (all times local):
An assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas refused to answer nearly all the questions he was asked during a federal court hearing arising from an investigation into the taping of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at a pretrial detention facility in Leavenworth.
Attorney Scott Rask said repeatedly on Tuesday that he was not authorized to answer questions during a hearing to determine if prosecutors in the office improperly used secret recordings of conversations between inmates and their attorneys at the Leavenworth prison. The U.S. attorney’s office is arguing that its employees can refuse to answer questions because of possible legal conflicts arising from the investigation.
The questions Rask was asked indicated that a special master appointed by the court and attorneys for public defenders believe that some attorneys in the Kansas City, Kansas, office listened to the recorded conversations to help with their prosecutions and didn’t alert the defense attorneys that the calls existed.
A law enforcement officer assigned to review tapes of calls at a federal prison in Kansas says he quit listening if he heard inmates talking to their attorneys.
Jeff Stokes is a special agent with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. He testified Tuesday during a hearing being held to determine whether prosecutors improperly used secret recordings of conversations between inmates and their attorneys.
Stokes says he was reviewing the calls as part of an investigation of contraband smuggling. He says federal prosecutors told him to stop listening if the call was to an attorney.
Stokes testified on the first day of the two-day hearing in Kansas City, Kansas. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson will also hear arguments during the hearing on whether the government should be held in contempt for not cooperating with an investigation into the recordings.
A federal judge is expected to hear testimony this week on whether prosecutors improperly used secret recordings of conversations between inmates and their attorneys at a federal prison in Kansas.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson has scheduled a two-day evidentiary hearing on the special master’s findings that begins Tuesday in Kansas City, Kansas.
The investigation by the court-appointed special master stems from a prison contraband case during which criminal defense lawyers discovered that the privately run Leavenworth Detention Center was routinely recording meetings between attorneys and their clients.
Robinson is also hearing arguments on whether the government should be held in contempt for not cooperating with the probe.