PANAMA CITY — A large window and a guard stationed outside an attorney interview room will be a couple of points prosecutors are expected to argue Wednesday against attorney Greg Wilson’s claim of privacy violation when he was caught on video allegedly helping two Bay County Jail inmates pass contraband, according to court records.
Prosecutor Jack Campbell filed the response Tuesday to recent requests to exclude the video — the key piece of evidence — from trial because Wilson’s defense team says it violated attorney-client privilege. 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 captured of the exchange. His tentative trial date on a felony charge of contraband introduction and a misdemeanor of perjury is scheduled for Sept. 17, court records state.
In the meantime, Wilson’s defense attorneys and Campbell are scheduled to make their arguments over several matters during a hearing Wednesday in Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet’s court. A main point of contention will be whether video of Wilson and two inmates, sisters Clista Robbins and Christy White, ought to be admissible.
“The soundless video recording of the physical activity between (Wilson) and two inmates is not subject to Constitutional protection,” Campbell wrote in his response to the defense's motion. “Their physical interactions do not constitute communications protected under attorney-client privilege and such privilege is waived when it is done to facilitate a crime.”
Campbell goes on to argue that attorney-client privilege is not meant to protect attorneys, and also that Wilson did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy from observation in the interview room because of a “large window” that allows an officer stationed outside to observe attorney-client interactions.
The response stems from a filing by Wilson’s defense attorney, Lisa Anderson, to suppress the video on grounds that not only was it a violation of attorney-client privilege but also that investigators had not properly established cause to monitor Wilson and his client.
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigation began in August 2017 after a deputy working another investigation heard a recorded jailhouse call between Robbins and Wilson, in which she told him in vague terms that she wanted to quit everything and instructed him to “get rid of it.” Robbins faced a narcotic possession charge, and authorities suspected drugs might be the topic of discussion, officials reported, as there were references to her car outside.
An audio timeline of events can be heard below:
BCSO monitored several jail calls afterward, which eventually led authorities to expand their investigation and, after consulting with the State Attorney's Office, install video cameras — without audio capability — shooting into an attorney interview room where it could video Wilson and his clients.
Anderson provided 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.”
Anderson had also initiated a motion dismiss the perjury charge. However, the motion was withdrawn after Campbell cautioned her that the decision would result in subpoenas for Wilson’s former legal counsel, Jim White, and a prominent businessman, Derwin White, who backed Wilson’s campaign for the State Attorney’s Office and who is the father of the two women Wilson was representing. Those subpoenas do not appear to have been renewed, according to court records.
Despite conceding that the defense raised valid concerns about attorney-client privilege, Campbell responded they were not applicable to Wilson’s case.
“The State does not disagree with much of the law cited and the underlying importance that a person be safe to frankly and fully disclose their legal issues with counsel,” Campbell wrote. “That is not the issue at bar. A client has a right to counsel and to privileged communications with his attorney. An attorney has no right to a client.”
Campbell has also asked the court to bar Wilson’s defense from raising any defense impertinent to the underlying criminal charges, such as selective prosecution or that Wilson was targeted.