Criminal Justice News

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baldwin County Matter Relating to Audio and Video Intercepts

Kenyen Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, announces that his office will not seek prosecution in the matter relating to audio and video intercepts made at the Baldwin County Courthouse in Bay Minette, Alabama, as well as other Baldwin County governmental facilities.

Title 18, United States Code, § 2511, more commonly known as the illegal wiretap statute, is the primary law implicated in this matter. The Mobile Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a thorough investigation as soon as it became aware of possible illegal audio and video intercepts. The FBI obtained audio, video, and log data from Baldwin County’s computer surveillance system. This information was examined to identify how the surveillance system was being utilizedand involved the review of video footage, audio recordings, and user log transactions. The FBI also reviewed the log files to determine who accessed the system, when they accessed it, which cameras they used, and how long individual users were on the surveillance system. Numerous witnesses were also interviewed.

The investigation revealed funding for the surveillance system was sought and obtained in an open and transparent fashion, without any nefarious intent to illegally gather audio intercepts. The surveillance system appears to have been installed in the summer of 2011 in order to generally enhance courthouse security and the protection of courthouse personnel. The audio component of the surveillance system was voluntarily discontinued in October 2011.

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