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There are now 9 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. Rockie says

    Totally riveting, Nathan. I appreciate the realism. Good decision not to ditch this storyline.

  2. Colin says

    typo in second panel: “we listen as long for…” ought to be “we listen for as long…”?

    • It depends on what they’re listening for.

      It’ll be pertinent if the substance of the call contains evidence of the crime — or the criminal organization — being investigated. Calls that clue you in to who are the members of a criminal organization, their hierarchy, and things like that are going to be relevant. And of course, calls that are arranging crimes, committing crimes, discussing crimes, etc. (so long as they’re crimes the warrant says they can listen for).

      Sometimes, the police have to rely on what an informant has told them, or fall back on their own experience dealing with such crimes, to figure out whether a call is in fact pertinent. Most offenders aren’t as smart as they think they are, and their attempts at concealing the substance of their conversations only makes them more damning. But sometimes the offenders are pros, who are very good at frustrating any potential wiretap, in which case the police need either a lot of brilliance or a lot of luck, or both.

      Because it’s not always easy to determine what is and is not pertinent, the police are allowed some reasonable wiggle room, especially in the early days of a wire, to listen longer and try to figure out what’s really being said. So long as they’re making reasonable, good-faith efforts to do the right thing, that is.

      • If they hear incriminating confessions of unrelated crimes, are they permitted to act on that information, despite it not being named in the warrant? Based on previous examples, I would expect the state to be just fine with that. (No new invasion of privacy)

        • That’s the short of it, yes. They’re supposed to stop listening if a given conversation isn’t pertinent to the investigation, but if they hear something incriminating before they can make that determination, they aren’t required to ignore it either. The call itself may or may not be usable, but evidence that arises from it might still apply (as opposed to being “fruit of the poisonous tree” in other cases, as discussed later).

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