Gennusa, et al. v. Canova, et al., No. 12-13871 (11th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, an attorney and her client, filed suit against defendants in their individual capacities, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violations of the Fourth Amendment based on the warrantless recording of their privileged conversations and the seizure of the written statement, and under 18 U.S.C. 2520(a) for violations of the Federal Wiretap Act based on the warrantless recording. The court concluded that plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation of privacy for their privileged attorney-client conversations in the interview room of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. The surreptitious recording and monitoring of those attorney-client conversations, without notice to plaintiffs, and without a warrant, violated the Fourth Amendment. Under the circumstances, it was clearly established that the Fourth Amendment prohibited the warrantless recording of attorney-client conversations between a non-incarcerated suspect and his attorney. The district court correctly held that defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. The court also concluded that the warrantless seizure of the client's written statement from the attorney violated their Fourth Amendment rights and that the exigent circumstances exception was inapplicable in this instance. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs and remanded for further proceedings.