KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Federal prosecutors in Kansas have agreed to work with public defenders to resolve a controversy over recordings of phone conversations between attorneys and clients at a detention center in Leavenworth.
U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister announced Wednesday that his office will craft an agreement with the Federal Public Defender's Office and a special investigator who was looking into whether some prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office violated attorney-client privilege by listening to the recordings, KCUR reported .
David R. Cohen, an Ohio attorney who was appointed by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson to investigate the matter, said he hoped the eventual agreement meant defense attorneys and the U.S. Attorney's Office would begin acting "more openly and professionally" with each other.
McAllister's announcement came in the second day of a two-day hearing called by Robinson after federal prosecutors began refusing to cooperate with Cohen's investigation. More than a dozen current and former employees of the U.S. Attorney's Office were called to testify at the hearing. On Tuesday, the first federal prosecutor called, Scott Rask, declined dozens of times to answer questions. The other federal employees had been expected to also refuse to answer after the U.S. Attorney's Office invoked a rule governing the extent to which federal agencies can release information.
Evidence introduced on Tuesday also indicated that some employees were told by their superiors not to cooperate with Cohen.
The video recordings of meetings and calls between defense attorneys and clients at the privately run Leavenworth Detention Center were discovered during an investigation into possible contraband smuggling at the center involving inmates and guards.
Evidence at an August 2016 hearing revealed that the operator of the center, then called Correction Corporations of America and now named CoreCivic Inc., recorded confidential conversations between inmates and their attorneys and may have given some of the recordings to government prosecutors in response to a grand jury subpoena.
Steven D. Clymer, a federal prosecutor in New York who was appointed as a contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office, contended no evidence existed that prosecutors violated attorney-client privileges, or that the U.S. Attorney's office had directed that the calls be recorded.
On Wednesday, McAllister agreed to dismiss charges against one of the contraband defendants and to file a motion to dismiss the charges against another.