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St. Johns deputies violated suspect’s rights with secret recording

Posted: April 8, 2014 - 6:22pm  |  Updated: April 9, 2014 - 12:12am

Two St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office deputies violated a constitutional right and the federal wiretapping law, a federal court ruled, when the two secretly recorded conversations between a suspect and his attorney and forcibly took a written statement from the suspect.

Detective Thomas Marmo and Sgt. Brian Canova were investigating Joel Studivant for a potential violation against a domestic violence injunction. Marmo was interviewing Studivant with his attorney, Anne Marie Gennusa.

Studivant and Gennusa did not know they were being recorded, and Studivant began preparing a written statement. Marmo then left the room to talk to Canova. Studivant and his lawyer talked and decided not to give the statement.

Canova and Marmo watched through a hidden camera.

Marmo came back into the interview room and forcibly grabbed the written statement from the lawyer and arrested Studivant. The criminal charges were eventually dismissed after a deferred prosecution agreement.

It doesn’t matter, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said, that Gennusa wasn’t harmed. It matters that Marmo took something that didn’t belong to him.

If Marmo believed evidence was about to be destroyed, he could argue that he could’ve taken the evidence without a warrant. But the deputies had no reason to believe they couldn’t have obtained the evidence with a warrant.

The court also ruled the two violated Studivant’s and Gennusa’s rights by secretly recording the two.

Studivant had no reason to expect he was being recorded, the court ruled, because he wasn’t under arrest, especially because he was having a privileged conversation with his attorney.

“The government has no weighty law-enforcement, security, or penological interest in recording, without a warrant, the attorney-client conversations of a person who has not been arrested, even if those conversations take place in an interview room at a sheriff’s office,” the court ordered.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chuck Mulligan said he couldn’t comment because the court’s ruling can still be appealed.

Andrew Pantazi: (904) 359-4310

Comments (4)

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Florida-Native 04/09/14 - 09:47 am
Premium Member
Don't worry. In house

Don't worry. In house discipline will probably be administered. No donuts for a week! Police are seldom brought before the bar of justice for crimes they commit. There are 2 legal systems in this country. One for the police the other for everyone else. As far as law enforcement is concerned the Constitution is dead. We need to change that by voting out the the sheriffs and state attorneys who refuse to charge law enforcement members who commit crimes or violate the US Constitution.

GrumpierOldMan 04/09/14 - 08:12 am
Premium Member
jnfsu and Mockingjay make

jnfsu and Mockingjay make excellent points.

These officers are out of control and are making a mockery of our precious Constitutional rights.

Shame on the Sheriff.

Mockingjay 04/08/14 - 09:40 pm
Premium Member
If these two are still

If these two are still employed at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office then the sheriff needs to be removed also as well as any supervisors.

These two secretly recording an attorney and client is certainly against constitutional law and something all learn in law 101.

They should never be in law enforcement again since they are so far removed from doing so and actually consider themselves above the law

jnfsu 04/08/14 - 07:37 pm
Premium Member
They should both be fired.

They should both be fired. Immediately. Any cop who would do what these two did is definitely in the wrong line of business, and on the wrong side of the law. They've displayed gross bad character and untrustworthiness. When things like this happen, that's when murderers get to walk free on a "technicality."

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