In the most recent filings in the case, Wilson’s defense attorney, Lisa Anderson, concedes that assisting inmates pass notes is a “violation of the jail rules.” However, she argues that video taken of the exchange ought not be admissible evidence, court records state.

PANAMA CITY — With a trial set for less than two weeks from now, Greg Wilson’s attorneys have asked that a key piece of evidence — the video that shows his role in the passing of contraband between two inmates — be suppressed because capturing the video violated attorney-client privilege.

The documents are part of a recent flurry of filings in the case, currently set for a jury trial Sept. 17. Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet will hear from both sides Thursday at a pretrial conference, during which prosecutor Jack Campbell  also will make the case for the court to bar any “irrelevant” defenses at trial.

 

Wilson, formerly the second-in-command at the State Attorney’s Office, faces charges related to helping two Bay County Jail inmates pass “kites,” folded pieces of paper, and then lying to investigators about it before he knew there was video.

In the most recent filings in the case, Wilson’s defense attorney, Lisa Anderson, concedes that assisting inmates pass notes is a “violation of the jail rules.” However, she argues that video taken of the exchange ought not be admissible evidence, court records state.

“In sum, in the course of providing legal representation to his clients, Mr. Wilson was surreptitiously recorded by a video recording device expressly installed by detention officers — without a warrant — for the purpose of capturing confidential and privileged attorney-client communications between Mr. Wilson and his clients, without notice or any reason to suspect such recordings were occurring,” Anderson wrote. “The recording was not part of routine jailhouse monitoring, nor conducted for legitimate safety concerns, but instead was installed and utilized only in the attorney-client interview room to which Mr. Wilson was escorted by jail personnel.”

Anderson goes on to give several reasons — including BCSO’s inmate visitation policy that states attorney-client communications will not be monitored — in an effort to make the case Wilson had a reasonable expectation of privacy and authorities illegally obtained the video.

“In effect, the observing officers were not in a place where they had any right to be since their covert presence and observation served as an impermissible intrusion into an attorney-client consultation,” Anderson wrote. “Thus, Mr. Wilson’s expectation of privacy was objectively reasonable, and (BCSO) intrusion via visual observation was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.”

In the motion to suppress the evidence, though, Wilson’s defense team acknowledges events authorities believe established probable cause to monitor interactions with an inmate named Clista Robbins. The investigation stemmed from an August 2017 recorded jailhouse call between the two, in which Robbins told Wilson in vague terms that she wanted to quit everything and instructed him to “get rid of it,” court records state. BCSO expanded its investigation, which eventually led to authorities installing video cameras — without audio capability — shooting into an attorney interview room where it could video Wilson and his clients.

One of the defenses pursued by Wilson has been that his arrest was a case of political retaliation, or “selective prosecution,” because BCSO obtained legal advice from his former boss and political rival, State Attorney Glenn Hess, before installing the cameras.

Wilson, 46, was the chief assistant attorney for seven years under Hess. As the primary elections approached in August 2016, Wilson abruptly resigned, saying Hess did not fulfill an agreement to bow out at the end of his second term and hand Wilson a shot at the office.

Wilson took on his former boss to be top prosecutor over Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties, and lost to Hess by a 59 percent to 41 percent margin, but vowed to make another run for state attorney in 2020.

It was about a year later Wilson became the subject of a BCSO investigation at the Bay County Jail.

The video in September 2017 shows Wilson apparently assisting two inmates — sisters Clista Robbins and Christy White — pass notes, or “kites,” while meeting with him at separate times in an attorney interview room. When questioned under oath about his actions, Wilson categorically denied the allegations as “absolutely false,” but at that time he was not aware of the video.

Wilson then was charged with perjury and felony introduction of contraband into a detention facility.

Although Overstreet so far has ruled out “selective prosecution” as a defense, it will be one of many topics Campbell will ask the court to restrict the defense from broaching at trial because he argues they are “irrelevant” and would act as a distraction to the jury from the underlying criminal charges.