Heggy v. Heggy

Raj PagariyaCase Summary

Does the federal wiretapping statute provide an exception for interspousal wiretapping?

Heggy v. Heggy
944 F.2d 1537 : 60 USLW 2242
In the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Case Number 90-6122
Before Chief Judge McKay, Circuit Judge Holloway, and District Judge Winder
Decided on October 02, 1991

Relevancy of the Case: Does the federal wiretapping statute provide an exception for interspousal wiretapping?

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2520

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The defendant has appealed against the District Court’s judgment in favour of the plaintiff for violating Title III.
  • Before the six months of the grant of divorce, he installed a recording device in an extension telephone in a barn adjacent to their marital home. At this time, they were living together as husband and wife. The defendant was working as the Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
  • He did not have a court order authorising him to wiretap his marital home. Also, he did not inform the plaintiff, nor did she consent to it.
  • He instructed the Bureau agents not to disclose the existence of the recording device to any coworkers or his family members.
  • He played at least one of the recorded conversations for his secretary. He catalogued these call recordings and labelled them by date and content of conversation.
  • Before the District Court, he stated that he had been receiving death threats. Hence, he wanted to record them.

Prominent Arguments by the Counsels

  • The defendant’s counsel argued that Title III does not apply to interspousal wiretaps. Hence, the District Court erred in denying his motions to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.

Opinion of the Bench

Final Decision

  • The court affirmed the District Court’s judgment in the plaintiff’s favour. The court remanded the case to determine the attorney’s fees and costs for appeal.