Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/19/1993 01:00 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                           
  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                     
  (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.                                 
  CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the meeting at 3:11 p.m.                           

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