Federal agents placed secret listening devices near the entrance of a Redwood City, California courthouse in 2009 and 2010, according to papers filed final week. The bugs had been component of an investigation of bid-rigging at public foreclosure auctions, which had been held close to the courthouse.
Now lawyers representing 5 accused real estate investors say the more than 200 hours of recorded conversations should be thrown out. In a motion (PDF) filed Friday and reported earlier this week by The Recorder, defense counsel say the law has extended recognized that some conversations have an expectation of privacy, even when they are carried out in public spaces.
“Here, the Government targeted conversations that an informant and an undercover agent with full access to the public location were apparently unable to overhear,” states the motion. “The proof will show that Defendants often took affirmative methods to produce a zone of privacy for their communications, such as moving away from other individuals, standing close together, covering their mouths, and speaking in low volumes… Society recognizes that judges, lawyers, and other citizens regularly have private and privileged conversations close to the courthouse, and it is affordable to anticipate that such conversations will not be topic to interception.”