Another settlement has been reached over the illicit recordings of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at the pretrial prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.
The settlement calls for the private operator of the prison, CoreCivic Inc., and the operator of its phone system, Securus Technologies Inc., to pay $3.7 million to resolve a class action lawsuit brought four years ago by attorneys whose conversations with their clients were recorded.
On Aug. 5, U.S. District Judge Steven Bough gave preliminary approval to the deal, which covers the claims of roughly 750 attorneys.
The resolution follows a similar settlement reached a year ago between the same two companies and inmates whose calls and meetings with their attorneys were recorded. That deal called for CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, and Securus to pay $1.45 million into a settlement fund for the inmates.
Both class action lawsuits were sparked by disclosures that privileged attorney-client phone calls and meetings were audio- and videotaped at the Leavenworth Detention Center, a sprawling complex that holds men and women charged with federal crimes who can’t make bail.
Lawyers regularly meet with their clients there to review their cases. The lawsuits alleged the recordings of their meetings and phone calls, which are supposed to be private, violated federal and state wiretap laws.
Ryan Gustin, a spokesman for CoreCivic, said in an email that the company was "deeply committed to being a valued part of the Leavenworth community."
"We’ve worked hard with all parties to resolve this issue in a professional and courteous manner and maintain there was no wrongdoing on the part of our company or our professionals," he said.
Securus officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The recordings first came to light four years ago in a criminal case alleging that guards, inmates and outside parties had smuggled drugs and contraband into the facility.
In August 2019, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson held the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas in contempt for disobeying her orders to preserve documents and recordings as part of an investigation she launched after the Federal Public Defender’s office in Kansas brought the recordings to light.
In a scathing opinion, Robinson wrote there was evidence that the U.S. Attorney’s Office had a “systematic practice of purposeful collection, retention and exploitation of calls” made between detainees and their attorneys.
The Justice Department has appealed her ruling. Meanwhile, scores of Leavenworth inmates who were convicted of crimes are seeking to have their cases thrown out based on their claims of prosecutorial misconduct and violations of attorney-client privilege.
The class action lawsuit on behalf of the attorneys was brought by two local lawyers, Adam Crane and David Johnson. The settlement covers attorneys who represented clients detained at Leavenworth and whose calls or meetings were recorded starting in August 2013 and extending in some cases to mid-2017.