Scott Peterson's Lawyers Subpoena Judge Over Wiretaps

Scott Peterson's lawyers have subpoenaed Judge Wray Ladine to get information about wiretaps in the case. It seems that the Judge met with a prosecutor and investigator without having a court reporter present to take down what transpired at the conference.

Lead defense attorney Mark Geragos is alleging that the Stanislaus County district attorney's office engaged in "grave prosecutorial misconduct" after authorities intercepted 71 calls between Peterson and McAllister or his investigator.

The defense might seek to have the district attorney's office removed from the case over the wiretap issue, according to documents they filed in court.

Prosecutors maintain that investigators listened to less than two minutes of total calls and that the wiretaps were consistent with state and federal law.

The wiretap meetings among the judge, prosecutor and investigator took place every three days during the first wiretap, which ran from Jan. 10 to Feb. 4, according to prosecution documents. Ladine indicated at a Jan. 17 meeting that some of the techniques used in the wiretaps were "inappropriate" and "could cause problems," according to an affidavit filed by Jacobson.

"Judge Ladine was concerned about the district attorneys' office using a wiretap to obtain statements from a suspect who had counsel and had already expressed to police that he didn't wish to make any statements," Jacobson wrote. At the meeting, Ladine instructed investigators to halt spot checks of calls between Peterson and his attorney. State law allows for 30-second spot checks of privileged communications, but defense attorneys maintain that attorney-client calls are "totally privileged under the law."

California law provides that all proceedings in capital cases be recorded, including meetings. We think the DA is on thin ice here. They knew it was a murder investigation when they got the wiretap--one in which there were two possible victims which made the crime death-penalty eligible. They should have had the foresight to bring in the court reporter. This article reports that California has struck other death penalty indictments for failing to do so--including one involving the same prosecutors involved in the Peterson case.

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