EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Call Waiting: Judge in Derrick Glover Case Finds Taped Jailhouse Calls Are Admissible

Derrick Glover was charged with furnishing a gun to a minor after 12 year-old Tony Youmans was found dead in the woods as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.  Authorities claim that Glover sold the gun to Youmans, who was the friend of his girlfriend's son.  Over the Constitutional objection of Glover's public defender, the judge hearing the case found that 50 calls that Glover made from jail, and which were recorded by the government, were admissible against Glover, although he noted that certain calls could be excluded if they were independently inadmissible.

The public defender's argument was that taping Glover's jailhouse calls violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment.  Specifically, he claimed that the city makes money from the calls and the system isn't set up to allow conversations that normally would be confidential, including talks between inmates and their doctor, clergy and spouses.  The problem with this argument, however, is that for Fourth Amendment rights to apply, inter alia, the speaker must have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and most courts have found that no such reasonable expectation exists in outbound calls from prison. See, e.g., United States v. Van Poyck, 77 F.3d 285 (9th Cir. 1996).  The prosecutor in the Glover case successfully argued this point and noted that inmates and the people they call are warned each time they speak over a jail telephone line that the authorities are taping the conversation.



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