May 25, 2017, Washington County, Ohio. Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks has been ordered by federal judge Algenon Marbley to stop recording phone calls between inmates in the Washington County Jail and their attorneys. Sheriff Mincks adopted this practice last summer, which Judge Marbley found violated the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Sheriff’s practice of recording phone calls prevented attorneys from speaking to their clients because all such conversations have to happen in private to maintain attorney/client confidentiality.
Sheriff Mincks was also ordered to allow poor inmates to call their attorneys for free, rather than charge them $4.50 for a 20 minute phone call. This practice also violates the Sixth Amendment because it prevents clients from speaking with their attorneys for no reason other than their poverty. Finally, Judge Marbley ordered the Washington County Jail staff to only open attorney mail in the presence of the receiving inmate and to seal inmate mail to their attorneys in the inmates’ presence.
The lawsuit resulting in this order was brought by three inmates in the Washington County Jail. Their attorney, Adam Gerhardstein, said of the order, “Anyone facing criminal charges is at a critical juncture in their lives – and the Sixth Amendment guarantees them the assistance of counsel at that time. Sheriff Mincks’ phone and mail policies were unconstitutional and were an impediment to the administration of justice in Washington County.”
Judge Marbley’s order is a preliminary injunction lasting 60 days. A date for a permanent injunction hearing has not yet been set.
Contact: Adam Gerhardstein (513-313-0073)
Read coverage in the Marietta Times.