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Name: People v. Shrier
Case #: B218424
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 11/23/2010

The appropriate remedy for police interference with a defendant’s right to counsel due to eavesdropping on attorney-client communications is exclusion of evidence, not dismissal of the case. The Attorney General allowed the defendants charged with Medi-Cal fraud to confidentially review seized medical files with their attorneys. To ensure integrity of the evidence, it was agreed that law enforcement agents on the case would visually monitor this review of files, but would not monitor the conversations between the defendants and their attorneys. Despite the arrangement, the investigating agents intentionally eavesdropped on the privileged communications. As a result, the trial court dismissed the case and the People appealed. The Court of Appeal deemed dismissal too harsh a sanction where, as here, the prosecutor is not directly involved. (Distinguishing Morrow v. Superior Court (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 1252.) Exclusion is the appropriate remedy because it will prevent the use of any improperly obtained information. And, the prosecution is required to prove that any evidence it relies on was obtained independently from the eavesdropping.