NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — District Attorney Glenn Funk’s team installed listening devices in areas around the DA’s office capable of picking up conversations of employees and visitors who are not warned about the audio monitoring, NewsChannel 5 has learned.
In a written statement, Funk’s office did not dispute the findings of a NewsChannel 5 investigation. Instead, they insisted it was a necessary part of office security and that “there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for conversations in public places.”
But others point to federal and state wiretapping laws that make it a crime to record conversations of unsuspecting individuals in places where they think they are alone. That raises the possibility that Funk’s team could be violating a law they are bound to enforce.
“A person who tries to record something privately, no matter what the motivation is, is violating the law,” said veteran Nashville attorney Gary Blackburn, a former federal prosecutor who has litigated cases involving the wiretapping laws.
The past president of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer (TACDL), Jonathan Cooper, called it a “betrayal of trust.”
“It’s very common for defense lawyers to go with associates or co-counsel or investigators or sometimes even with clients,” Cooper said. “If there is the perception that those conversations that are occurring in the common areas could be monitored, that is going to have a very chilling effect.”
This discovery comes after months of complaints from insiders at the Nashville DA’s Office about security cameras also capable of secretly picking up conversations of people visiting the office, as well as employees — along with allegations of one official inside the office who routinely listens to such chatter.
Funk’s team had refused to produce videos and audio requested by NewsChannel 5 Investigates from their security system that might help answer