Sunday, August 03, 2008

One of these days these boots are going to walk all over your attorney-client privilege

Bill Baumbach at the Collin County Observer has the scoop on the story of the Judge who issued a search warrant for a defense attorney's files in a high profile murder case. Most alarming is news that officers removed documents from the attorney's files that do not correspond to any item the warrant ordered them to seize. Reported Baumbach:
Judge Mark Rusch issued a search warrant, stipulating that a court "Master", Eric Higgins would be present. The warrant also required all evidence seized to be turned over to Judge Rusch for his "in camera" inspection.

The warrant specifically required the police to seize:
"a. Letters, cards and envelopes written at and/or sent from the Collin County Jail by inmate Mark Bell, to his spouse, Linda Bell..."
"b. A shoe box and
c. Men's boots."

The return inventory of items seized, however listed:
1. "Six envelopes containing handwritten letters"
2. "Sealed orange and white box"
3. "Multiple paged stapled document"

No boots were found, no timecard was ever mentioned and even more troubling was the seizure of the "Multiple paged document" not listed in the warrant. ...

Visiting Judge Gary Stephens will hear testimony on conflicting motions by the State and the defense in a hearing scheduled for August 5. As of now, the defense has asked for the recusal of Judge Rusch, and for suppression and return of seized evidence. The State has asked for Keith Gore to be dismissed as defense counsel, so the DA can call him as a witness.

So the boots weren't found and the defense attorney wasn't lying when he told the court he didn't have them. Oops! It really seems like a misstep by police when handling so delicate a matter as a search warrant for defense counsel's files when they seize documents wholly unrelated to the warrant. Once police have seen this material, how can you un-ring that bell?

Those interested in the case should see especially the "notes and links" at the end of Bill's article, including the search warrant affidavit, and this earlier Grits post.


Anonymous said...

I'm no judge but the items that were to be seized in a search warrant, I would personally consider to be falsely obtained and the case judge seems rather biased to even issue such a warrant.The items seized in the warrant should be excluded from the trial,the judge should be recused and I might go so far as to declare a mistrial and make the DA start all over.

Anonymous said...

The dishonorable Judge Rusch should face both judicial sanctions and disciplinary action from the state bar.

Anonymous said...

You unring the bell, regrettably by looking for dismissal. If key witnesses are tainted (those being police), how can the man get a fair trial?

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