Cynthia Conti-Cook of Legal Aid’s Special Litigation Unit previews her team’s lawsuit against the Department of Correction for recording confidential attorney/client meetings at the Richmond County Courthouse — despite a judge’s order that they be turned off.
New York Daily News
Staten Island court accused of snooping on defendants with cameras despite order to shut down
By Stephen Rex Brown
March 20, 2017
Surveillance cameras in Staten Island court have recorded confidential meetings between defendants and their attorneys — despite a judge’s order they be turned off, new court papers charge.
The Legal Aid Society charges in papers to be filed Monday that the city and Department of Correction are in contempt of an October 2015 ruling that four cameras in prearraignment meeting rooms be disabled because they violate attorney-client privilege.
“It’s the first time a lawyer is meeting with their client. If that lawyer can’t confirm that space is confidential and safe, that relationship is already starting off in a place that is compromised,” Legal Aid attorney Cynthia Conti-Cook said.
Legal Aid writes that the city disclosed March 2 that the cameras had still been rolling in the courthouse after Manhattan Federal Judge George Daniels’ order. The city had previously assured Legal Aid that it “continues to honor such orders,” papers read.
Legal Aid writes that the city said operation of the cameras, which don’t record sound, was “inadvertent.” But questions remain. Conti-Cook estimated as many as 10,000 people had been wrongly filmed since the judge’s order. Legal Aid seeks an order that the cameras be removed.
“We will review the motion and respond accordingly,” a Law Department spokesman said.