An effort begun in York County by the Sheriff’s office to deal with the recording of attorney-client calls has been adopted statewide.
The sheriff’s office in York County ran with an idea to get the phone provider Securus Technologies to solve this problem en masse for just the county jail in Alfred, but the issue quickly spread to other sheriff’s offices after intervention by the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services. MCILS provided the list of attorneys taking court-appointed cases, which meant hand-coding each number given by attorneys that should not be recorded.
Securus provides phone services to jails, with the sheriff’s office being the contractor. The fact that jails were keen to resolve the problem meant pressure on Securus, which covers jails in 14 of Maine’s 16 counties. The issue is still being addressed in the other two counties.
It has been widely reported for some time that thousands of calls between attorneys and their clients have been recorded. One attorney was even given recordings of those calls in discovery. These calls are privileged (cannot be used in court against a client) and confidential - but those protections are broken when heard by a third party.
The long-term aim would be to automate the process between Securus and court-appointed attorneys - based on the roster of lawyers who represent the poor, which is the vast majority of criminal cases.
At meeting of commissioners on May 24, 2022, Justin Andrus, the executive director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, thanked York County Sheriff’s Office and attorney Marcus Wraight for starting this process.