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Prosecutors scooped up recordings of phone conversations between a defense attorney and his client at the Metropolitan Detention Center among the thousands of jail calls collected by the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, a judge said Friday.
“There seems to be really no dispute that there are attorney-client privileged communications on the files that were disclosed,” District Judge Brett Loveless said after hearing hours of testimony this week.
Albuquerque attorney William Cooley alleges that the DA’s office obtained 133 recordings of jail calls he had with his client in violation of constitutional protections for attorney-client communications.
Cooley told the judge in an unusual two-day hearing that he obtained recordings of the attorney-client conversations from the DA’s office, which provided the audio files on thumb drives on Aug. 23 and Sept. 9 as part of the discovery process.
Cooley contends the phone calls gave prosecutors insight into his strategy for defending his client and is asking the judge to disqualify the DA’s office from prosecuting the criminal case.
Assistant District Attorney Gabriel Kallen told the judge that he listened to none of the attorney-client calls and the fact that the DA’s office has them doesn’t amount to a conflict of interest.
“Whether I actually listened to them is an important fact for the court to consider, and I did not,” Kallen said Friday. Kallen also contends that Cooley didn’t take the proper steps to prevent MDC from recording his calls.
Loveless asked attorneys to submit written arguments next week and ordered the DA’s office not to listen to any jail calls until the issue is resolved.
Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center and other jails and prisons in New Mexico routinely record phone calls between inmates and outside parties. Those recordings often are introduced as evidence in