Williams v. Poulos

Linet Christina ThomasCase Summary

Liability of a party's attorney for handling intercepted and recorded phone calls

Williams v. Poulos
11 F.3d 271
In the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Case Numbers 93-1366, 93-1368, 93-1680
Before Circuit Judge Selya, Circuit Judge Stahl, and District Judge Fuste
Decided on December 14, 1993

Relevancy of the Case: Liability of a party’s attorney for handling intercepted and recorded phone calls

Statutes and Provisions Involved

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

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The defendants, Bowers, Rodrigue, and Robichaud, intercepted and recorded phone calls made by and to the plaintiffs, employees of Allied Capital Corporation. The defendants were the former principal owners of Consolidated Auto Recyclers, Inc.
  • The District Court found them guilty of violating federal and Maine wiretapping laws. Further, the court determined that the defendants’ counsel, Poulos and his firm, disclosed and used call recordings with the required mens rea.
  • The court barred the defendants from utilising the recordings except to secure a ruling on admissibility in a matter brought by the defendants against the plaintiffs. All three parties in this case have appealed against the District Court’s findings.

Prominent Arguments by the Counsels

  • The defendants’ counsel argued that the court erred in dismissing their claims. Two statutory exemptions, business expansion and consent, exempt them from responsibility. Their actions did not violate either federal or state wiretapping laws.
  • The plaintiffs counsel argued that the court made legal errors in granting equitable relief for the violations cited. Moreover, the court erred in denying them statutory damages under Section 2520.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The District Court erred in its reasoning while deciding that the business expansion exemption did not apply. However, the trial court’s conclusion was on the nature of the monitoring device.
  • The District Court omitted the testimony of the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ experts. The court could understand and assess the facts without their assistance. The court acted within its authority to do so.

Final Decision

  • The court rejected the appeals while upholding the District Court’s judgment in every aspect.