In a decision that could jeopardize pending criminal cases, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled Wednesday that wiretapping practices of Maricopa County prosecutors violate federal law.
The tribunal said County Attorney Bill Montgomery, relying on a state statute, failed to personally review and approve electronic-surveillance warrants. Judges said U.S. law requires the “principle prosecuting attorney” — not subordinates — to approve applications.
Alan Simpson, a defense lawyer who did not take part in the case, predicted the appellate ruling will force the suppression of wiretap evidence in numerous ongoing criminal prosecutions, resulting in cases getting dismissed.