Illinois public defender says police violated attorney-client s

Saturday, June 21, 2003

JONESBORO, Ill. -- Union County's public defender is trying to get a judge to throw out evidence in his official misconduct trial, saying police shouldn't have searched his client files to get it.

Patrick J. Cox, 53, is accused of soliciting a minor to illegally record another girl confessing to plans to falsely accuse a man of molesting her.

The girl who was the target of the secret recording had previously accused a different man, one of Cox's clients, of sexually abusing her. She is a minor whose name was not released.

An admission of such a plot would have helped Cox's client.

Illinois law prohibits secret tape recordings, with some exceptions. It's not clear what was recorded.

Cox told the minor if she decided to make such a recording, it would be legal under an exception to the law, his lawyer, John Rekowski, said Friday.

Cox was charged with felony eavesdropping, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and official misconduct. If convicted, he faces 13 years in prison.

In a pretrial hearing Thursday, Rekowski asked Judge Loren Lewis to throw out evidence police obtained when they searched Cox's office, saying the search violated Cox's clients' right to consult privately with their lawyer.

"They opened the (client file) folders (in a file cabinet) and looked at the papers, they even went through my trash can," Cox said Friday.

The confidentiality of lawyer-client communication is a basic tenet of America's legal system and is enforced in state and federal courts. Some states have laws restricting searches of law offices, Rekowski said. Typically, judges appoint a third person to conduct such searches, he said.

The police took a recorder, some tapes and envelopes, Rekowski said.

The hearing continues July 11.

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