Judge refuses to drop charges over recorded calls
BOSTON—A judge refused to dismiss charges Friday against a murder suspect whose his lawyer claimed prosecutors violated attorney-client privilege by presenting recorded jail phone conversations to a grand jury.
Fall River Superior Court Judge D. Lloyd Macdonald rejected the motion made by a lawyer for Jonathan Niemic, who is charged with stabbing another man outside a soup kitchen in New Bedford.
The conversations were recorded while Niemic was in jail talking on the phone with his lawyer, Robert Griffin.
Griffin said a prosecutor's mistake in presenting the recordings to the grand jury amounted to "egregious prosecution misconduct."
Macdonald ruled that the content of the calls "could not have reasonably affected the grand jury."
Griffin said he's disappointed that the ruling means there will be no consequences for prosecutors for the mistake.
"The bottom line is that the government has a responsibility to know what they're putting into evidence before a grand jury," he said. "I have never heard of anybody ever doing this before, putting phone calls between an attorney and a client before a grand jury."
Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said the judge found that the action by an assistant district attorney was inadvertent. The judge also found that Niemic waived the attorney-client privilege when he continued the calls with his attorney despite a recorded warning at the beginning that says all calls are being recorded and can be used in court.
The calls were recorded because Griffin's phone number wasn't recognized by the phone system that automatically shuts off when it identifies an attorney's phone number.
Niemic's trial is scheduled to begin May 7.