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Rumor: Deborah Edgerly Wiretapped By Oakland Police; If Calls Are Recorded, They're Not Legal

Yesterday, I was tipped off by an Oakland Resident that the Oakland Police have been wiretapping now-former Chief Administrative Officer Deborah Edgerly and say that the resulting evidence is incrminating. Now, I can't, as of this writing confirm this. It may be a couple of police officers trying to score points with an influential person, but I'm taking the claim seriously.

Why? Well because it comes from people -- Oakland Police -- who can do it. I found this analysis of current California law, which reads:

Both federal and California law enforcement officials may eavesdrop on and record telephone conversations without a court order under the so-called "one party consent provision" (18 USC 2511(2)(s); California Penal Code 633). In other words, if state or federal authorities have the consent of one party to a conversation (such as a government informant), the conversation may be monitored. This provision applies only to eavesdropping by law enforcement officials.

As you read this, the assumption is that the calls were recorded, right? Well, if so, that's illegal under the California Supreme Court case of Flanagan v. Flanagan, March 14, 2002. Privacyrights.org reports:

California law does not allow tape recording of telephone calls unless all parties to the conversation consent (California Penal Code 632), or they are notified of the recording by a distinct "beep tone" warning (CPUC General Order 107-B(II)(A)(5)). However, tape recordings can legally be made if an individual or members of one's family are threatened with kidnapping, extortion, bribery or another felony involving violence. The person receiving the threats can make a tape recording without informing the other party. (California Penal Code 633.5)

If indeed, the OPD officers are not telling a tall tale -- and I don't think so -- and the calls are recorded, we have a serious problem which indicates that this case is not the slam dunk Oakland City Attorney John Russo thinks it is. If Edgerly's privacy rights were vioated, and she can show that there's reasonable doubt that the City of Oakland followed their own City Charter laws to the letter in the Mayor's treatment of her over the past two months in this matter, then the City may find itself writing the settlement check Russo says will never be written.

If the City observes that I'm not a lawyer, such a comment would be proof of the very arrogance that would cause them to not research all perspectives and thus lose the case. I would not make such a mistake.
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