Ruling holds US attorney’s office in Kansas in contempt

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August 15, 2019 - 10:09 AM

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas, improperly listened to recorded communications between inmates and their defense attorneys and willfully violated court orders during an independent investigation of the systemic practice, a judge said in a ruling that could upend hundreds of federal convictions and sentences.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in a 188-page decision handed down late Tuesday also held the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas in contempt of court, saying she would impose monetary sanctions against the government as punishment for violating orders to preserve evidence and turn over documents to the court-appointed special master investigating prosecutors’ use of video and phone recordings at the privately run Corrections Corporation of America detention center in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Her ruling also cited the “dysfunction and strife” in the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas, detailing a culture in which prosecutors recorded their conversations with others from the office and kept files and notes at home. Several managers had repeatedly sought to address abusive prosecutorial practices in that office.

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