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Case Name Austin Lawyers Guild v. Securus Technologies, Inc. CJ-TX-0008
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-00366-LY ( W.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
On April 29, 2014, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, the Austin Lawyers Guild, the Prison Justice League, and individual defense attorneys filed this class action lawsuit against Securus Technologies, Inc, the Travis County Sheriff's Office, the Travis County ... read more >
On April 29, 2014, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, the Austin Lawyers Guild, the Prison Justice League, and individual defense attorneys filed this class action lawsuit against Securus Technologies, Inc, the Travis County Sheriff's Office, the Travis County District Attorney's Office, and the Travis County Attorney's Office. The lawsuit was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Federal Wiretap Act, and the Texas Wiretap Act. The plaintiffs alleged that the phone and videoconferencing technology provided by Securus Technology, and used by the Sheriff's Department, records confidential attorney-client communications between attorneys and detainees in Travis County Jail and the Travis County Correctional Complex, and that those recordings are disclosed to prosecutors in the Travis County and District Attorneys' Offices. Plaintiffs argue that this amounts to an unreasonable search and therefore violates the Fourth Amendment rights of individual plaintiffs and the Austin Lawyers Guild, and those of inmates, which harms the Prison Justice League. They further argue that defendants' actions violate detainees' Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel and Fifth Amendment right of access to the courts, both of which require confidential attorney-client communication, and that these violations have forced plaintiff Prison Justice League to "redirect resources."

On February 4, 2015, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Lane submitted his report and recommendation on the defendants' motion to dismiss to the District Court (Judge Lee Yeakel). Magistrate Judge Lane recommended that the Travis County Sheriff's Office, Travis County District Attorney's Office, and Travis County Attorney's Office should be dismissed as defendants, and plaintiffs' claim for violation of the right to access the courts under the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment should be dismissed. He recommended that defendant Securus Technologies, Inc.'s and defendants Hamilton (Travis County Sheriff), Lehmberg (Travis County DA), and Escamilla (Travis County Attorney)'s Motions to Dismiss plaintiffs' claims for violations of the Federal Wiretap Act and Texas Wiretap Act; unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution; and denial of effective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution should be denied, so that the case would continue on those issues. 2015 WL 10818584. On March 23, 2015, the court ordered the adoption of the report and recommendation.

On February 17, 2016, the court issued an Order for Settlement Papers, and the parties signed a settlement agreement on March 10, 2016. The settlement established a procedure to detect and mitigate breaches of confidentiality in privileged attorney-client communications. Specifically, the agreement provides that as soon as any assistant county attorney obtains knowledge of potentially privileged communication, he must immediately stop reviewing it and notify his supervisor. The supervising attorney will then determine if the communication is in fact privileged, and if so, shall disclose the fact of its existence and possession to the defendant's lawyer within two business day and provide all known copies of the communication the defendant's lawyer as soon as possible to the extent that it is appropriate to do so. The settlement further stipulated that these new policies will be published on the County Attorney's website and remain in effect for the duration of Attorney Ecsamilla's term.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on March 10, 2016 and a stipulation of dismissal the next day. On March 14, 2016, the case closed.

Rebecca Eisenbrey - 03/16/2015
Virginia Weeks - 10/31/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Confidentiality
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
State law
Defendant(s) Securus Technologies, Inc.
Travis County
Travis County Attorney's Office
Travis County District Attorney's Office
Travis County Sheriff’s Department
Plaintiff Description The Austin Lawyers Guild is a membership-based, incorporated non-profit organization, which includes as members a number of Austin, Texas criminal defense attorneys. The Prison Justice League is also a membership-based, incorporated non-profit organization, which includes as members people detained in the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle, Texas. The individual plaintiffs are defense attorneys who routinely represent detainees housed in the Travis County Jail and in the TCCC.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2016 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Links Philadelphia Forfeiture
http://ij.org/case/philadelphia-forfeiture/
By: Institute for Justice (Institute for Justice)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:14-cv-00366-LY (W.D. Tex.) 03/14/2016
CJ-TX-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 04/29/2014
CJ-TX-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Class Action Complaint 07/23/2014
CJ-TX-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation of the U.S. Magistrate Judge [Re: D's Motions to Dismiss] 02/04/2015 (2015 WL 10818584)
CJ-TX-0008-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Report and Recommendation 03/23/2015 (W.D. Tex.)
CJ-TX-0008-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement and Full and Final Release of County Attorney Escamilla, in His Official Capacity 03/10/2016
CJ-TX-0008-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Prison Legal News
Stipulation of Dismissal 03/10/2016
CJ-TX-0008-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Second Amended Class Action Complaint 03/10/2016
CJ-TX-0008-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Ezra, David Alan (D. Haw.)
CJ-TX-0008-9000
Lane, Mark (W.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
CJ-TX-0008-0004
Yeakel, Earl Leroy III (W.D. Tex.)
CJ-TX-0008-0006 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Frank, Abigail Hill (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-0007 | CJ-TX-0008-0008 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
Harrington, James C (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-0007 | CJ-TX-0008-0008 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
Lobb, George C (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-0001 | CJ-TX-0008-0002 | CJ-TX-0008-0007 | CJ-TX-0008-0008 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
McGiverin, Brian Rolland (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-0001 | CJ-TX-0008-0002 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
Yang, Wayne Krause (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-0001 | CJ-TX-0008-0002 | CJ-TX-0008-0007 | CJ-TX-0008-0008 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Eiserloh, Laurie R (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-0005 | CJ-TX-0008-0007 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
Hawkins, Robert Allen (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-0007 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
Jones, Andrew Milam (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-9000
Nelson, Anthony J. (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-0005 | CJ-TX-0008-0007 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
Weiland, S. Cass (Texas)
CJ-TX-0008-0007 | CJ-TX-0008-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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