OGDEN -- Just how much privacy you're entitled to if you telephone an inmate in jail is "an intriguing issue" looming in a coming murder trial, says Deputy Weber County Attorney Reed Richards.
The courts have ruled against media requests for recordings of a prisoner's phone calls, Richards said. But when the request comes from another inmate, he said, the law is less clear.
Inmates and anyone calling an inmate at Weber County Jail are warned the call could be recorded, monitored or both.
The question tied to Robert McCullar's murder trial is the privacy granted those who phone the inmate, Richards said Monday after attorneys gave 2nd District Judge W. Brent West an update on the coming debate.
Another hearing was set for June 1 on the question.
The inmate has no expectation of privacy, Richards said, but his mother calling him might.
"Do we have to notify, for example, a local clergyman who's been working with an inmate that he might need to get a lawyer because that inmate's phone records have been subpoenaed? We just don't know."
The issue has come up because McCullar's public defender, Jim Retallick, has subpoenaed phone records and much more for three jail inmates scheduled to testify against McCullar at his murder trial set for most of July.
McCullar, 50, is charged in the Dec. 22, 2009, stabbing death of Filiberto Robles Bedolla, 49, at 2560 Adams Ave. McCullar has been in Weber County Jail since he was charged in February 2010.
According to charging documents, McCullar slashed Bedolla's throat during an argument in which Bedolla used a racial slur and spit in his face. Bedolla was stabbed 14 times.
In February. Retallick filed subpoenas for all jail records for five current and former jail inmates, including tapes of their phone calls. He has called some of them "potential alternate suspects."
The jail has refused to comply, and on March 30, prosecutors filed a motion to quash all the subpoenas, calling them a violation of prisoners' First, Fourth, Eighth, Ninth and 14th Amendment rights, chiefly regarding privacy issues.
Richards and Retallick have been negotiating the scope of Retallick's subpoenas, with prosecutors since deciding two of the inmates in question won't be testifying against McCullar.
The subpoenas seek medical records and disciplinary write-ups, as well as records of visits, telephone calls and letters, plus records of meetings the inmates may have had in the jail with prosecutors and police preparing for the case.
Richards is mostly concerned about the phone tapes.
"Inmates lose a lot of privacy rights, but that's in relation to their jailers, not the entire world."