MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 22, 2012

Inquiries must be swift, fair


— An investigation into possible eavesdropping by the Muskogee County District Attorney’s Office needs to be swift, fair and transparent.

The DA’s office had use of two laptops on loan from the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office. The laptops  had access to live video and audio feeds of courtrooms.

The cameras and microphones were installed as a safety measure. Sheriff’s Office employees monitor the courthouse — including courtrooms not in official use.

Local attorneys want to determine whether anyone in the DA’s office used the laptops to listen in on private attorney-client conversations.

Attorneys have used courtrooms to hold conversations with clients instead of using rooms in judge’s chambers where there are no cameras or microphones.

There have been no public accusations of wrongdoing.

But as long as the DA’s Office had access to the feeds there was potential for the DA’s Office to violate the sanctity of the attorney-client privilege.

The Muskogee County Bar Association has asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Oklahoma Bar Association and the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate.

Muskogee County DA Larry Moore also has asked the OSBI to investigate.

Four trials have been delayed because judges do not want to hold trials that could be overturned or be forced to set new trials.

That’s understandable.

There are serious questions that need to be resolved.

The investigations need to be as transparent as possible. The public needs to be able to read all final reports.

The investigations need to be concluded quickly. More trials could be delayed if these investigations drag on.

Justice must be swift, but fair for defendants.

That applies to the DA’s Office, too.