Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/19/1993 01:00 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 187 INTERCEPTION OF PRIVATE COMMUNICATIONS CHAIRMAN PORTER announced that the committee would take up HB 187. Number 609 MARGOT KNUTH, from the DEPARTMENT OF LAW'S CRIMINAL DIVISION, said that HB 187 was the governor's bill on wiretapping and a component of his crime package. She said that when discussing the bill with legislators and members of the public, she had generally heard two responses to the issue of wiretapping: surprise that the state did not already allow it, and nervousness about employing it. She said HB 187 would authorize the state to electronically eavesdrop in murder, kidnapping, and unclassified and class A felony drug cases. MS. KNUTH commented that federal law required states to abide by certain limitations before implementing a wiretapping program. She said HB 187 would honor those requirements and also followed suggestions made in the Model Electronic Eavesdropping Act. She stated that HB 187 included safeguards. The state did not anticipate using eavesdropping very often, she said, as it was expensive and unnecessary in many cases. She said that it would have been useful in the Eklutna mail bombing case last year, however. MS. KNUTH stated that law enforcement officials would need the approval of the attorney general's office to use wiretapping. Additionally, she said, a judge would have to find that there was probable cause that wiretapping would produce evidence that a crime had been committed or was to be committed. Also, notice would have to be provided at some point to all persons whose conversations were intercepted. Number 680 REP. PHILLIPS asked when the notification would occur. Number 684 MS. KNUTH replied that notification would usually occur as soon as a charge was filed. She likened the procedure to that used when a search warrant was issued and served. REP. DAVIDSON asked Ms. Knuth to comment on how probable cause would be demonstrated. MS. KNUTH responded that an application for a wiretapping order had to be filed. She said HB 187 set out a long list of elements that had to be shown when filing a wiretapping application. A law enforcement officer would have to identify the facts upon which he or she was relying when applying for the order. There would have to be enough information to warrant the issuance of a wiretapping order. There was no "trust me" component to HB 187, she added. MS. KNUTH stated that, in order for a wiretapping order to be issued, a judge had to be presented with specific time periods, modes of communication, locations, etc. She called the members' attention to section 12.37.040 of the bill. Number 736 REP. DAVIDSON asked Ms. Knuth what protections HB 187 included for innocent parties. Number 748 MS. KNUTH replied that the bill provided that privileged communications would always remain privileged. Number 752 REP. DAVIDSON asked how many judges, law enforcement officials, and attorneys would be party to these communications. He expressed doubt that privileged communications would remain confidential, given the number of people involved in the wiretapping exercise. Number 760 MS. KNUTH commented that the bill included penalties for unauthorized disclosure. Additionally, she said, the wiretapping applications and the conversations intercepted would be sealed by the court until they were used in court proceedings. The court system, not law enforcement officials, would have custody of those items, she said. Number 771 REP. DAVIDSON stated that although he trusted police officers, he knew that people talked while at work. Number 780 MS. KNUTH said that under current law, law enforcement officers could obtain orders allowing the recording of a face-to-face conversation. She said that the problem of people hearing conversations which were not germane to the investigation occurred in that situation also. She mentioned that law enforcement agencies imposed standards on their employees, and disciplinary actions were taken when those standards were breached. Number 791 REP. KOTT asked about language on page 9 regarding required reports. He asked why the state was reporting to the federal government. MS. KNUTH replied that the reports were required under federal law. TAPE 93-65, SIDE A Number 000 REP. KOTT asked if the federal requirements were tied to funding. (REP. DAVIDSON left the meeting.) Number 010 MS. KNUTH stated that the requirements did not have anything to do with funding, but rather if a state would be allowed to conduct wiretapping in the first place. REP. PHILLIPS made a motion to move HB 187 out of committee with individual recommendations and a zero fiscal note. There being no objection, it was so ordered. ADJOURNMENT CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the meeting at 3:11 p.m.