The Maine Monitor investigates the jailhouse recordings of defendants' confidential phone calls to their attorneys.
Court documents and hundreds of emails reveal how Maine law enforcement and prosecutors repeatedly came to possess recordings of attorney-client calls from some of the state’s 15 county jails.
A breach of confidentiality once described as a rare "error" now affects dozens of criminal cases, including three open murder cases. The Maine Monitor’s continuing investigation includes a lawsuit to get even more records of the illegal jailhouse eavesdropping.
In rural Maine, a county jail recorded more than 300 phone calls in a year between a local defense attorney and dozens of his clients. Their hopes of getting out of jail hinged on confidential legal advice. In another county, law enforcement listened to live conversations between jailed defendants and their attorneys through June 2021.
Reporter Samantha Hogan, a Report for America corps member with The Maine Monitor, disclosed the jailhouse practice in mid-2020. Her investigation has since documented nearly 1,000 recorded calls of 36 law firms at four county jails. Her work is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the International Women's Media Foundation and Investigative Editing Corps in a pilot project with Report for America.