Federal judge will tour Sacramento County Jail to review privacy issues involving phones, visitation booths

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge on Friday will tour the Sacramento County Main Jail to determine whether an Aryan Brotherhood defendant’s claims of attorney-client privilege violations while being held pretrial are true.

US Magistrate Judge Jeremy D. Peterson, in an order signed Tuesday, said he would conduct a site inspection at the jail following a teleconference hearing set to be held Thursday afternoon.

“The court finds that conducting a site inspection prior to the evidentiary hearing will promote efficiency at the hearing and will assist the court in understanding the parties’ evidence,” Peterson wrote. “All logistical and safety issues, including the scheduling of the inspection’s start time, will be addressed at the February 10 teleconference.”

Peterson’s decision to inspect the 8 West housing block comes after Pat Brady, an accused Aryan Brotherhood prisoner linked to drug trafficking and murder plots, raised concerns that his conversations with attorneys during visitation could be heard due to faulty soundproofing, and that his phone calls with them could be heard by guards and other prisoners.

Prosecutors say Brady and another man, Jason Corbett, stabbed Donald Pequeen to death on the D-Yard at High Desert State Prison for disrespecting the brotherhood. The men allegedly stabbed Pequeen several times in the neck, head, and torso using a shiv adorned with SS Bolts.

According to Brady’s lawyers, the visitation booths are undersized and only “sound reduced” instead of soundproof. Jail phones available to inmates are said to be located close to intercoms where deputies can listen in, as well as cells of other inmates who “can hear every word being said.”

Another defendant in the case, Brant Daniel, recently claimed corrections officers at CSP Sacramento can overhear legal calls with his attorneys.

“Could you officers hear my legal call w/ my attorneys?” Daniel asked a guard, according to a note included in court filings.

“Yes! Every Tues!” the officer answered.

If the attorney-client privilege violations are substantiated, and found to be widespread, they could affect the cases of hundreds of inmates held at the county jail, federal and otherwise, all of whom are subject to the same rights Brady claims officials have violated.

The county lockup has been rife with chaos and controversy including vaguely explained inmate deaths and a COVID-19 outbreak. SCSO Sgt. Rod Grassmann recently announced that 74 inmates will be released in an effort to mitigate the spread.

“This is a very hard thing for the sheriff’s office to do,” Grassmann said. “This is about having to create quarantine areas for people that are positive.”

Grassmann said the jail held over 400 inmates, meant to be transferred to state prisons and hospitals, who wouldn’t normally be there. CDCR has put transfers on hold due to the pandemic.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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