RESOLUTION OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
CONCERNING FEDERAL RULES PERMITTING
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO LISTEN IN ON CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN PRISON INMATES AND THEIR ATTORNEYS IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES
WHEREAS, on November 9, 2001 American Bar Association President Robert E. Hirshon, Esquire, released the following statement:
The American Bar Assertion is deeply troubled by the U.S. Justice Department's newly released administrative rules that would permit the government to listen in on conversations between prison inmates and their attorneys if there is "reasonable suspicion" that an exchange of information may occur about future acts of terrorism.
We certainly understand the necessity to take all steps necessary, consistent with our Constitution to prevent terrorist acts. But these new rules run squarely afoul of the Fourth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
No privilege is more "indelibly ensconced" in the American legal system than the attorney-client privilege. The Sixth Amendment guarantees a right to counsel. The new rules clearly violate that privilege, and therefore seriously impinge on the right to counsel. If the government has probable cause to believe criminal activity is occurring or is about to occur, it can ask a judge to approve the type of monitoring proposed by these regulations. But prior judicial approval and the establishment of probable cause -- the standard embodied in the Fourth Amendment -- and no "reasonable suspicion," are required if the government's surveillance is to be consistent with the Constitution and is to avoid abrogating the rights of innocent people.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association endorses and supports the statement of President Hirshon and authorizes the Chancellor to take appropriate action in support of this Resolution.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: NOVEMBER 20, 2001