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Right to Counsel Not Violated by Brig Officials Present During Attorney Phone Calls

On May 1, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Services affirmed a lower court’s judgment rejecting a service member’s claim that he was denied the right to appellate counsel because brig officials were present when he called his attorney.

David M. Brooks, a Marine Corps. Corporal was convicted of violating several provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While confined in the brig, Brooks made several calls to his appellate attorney. During each call, brig personnel were present.
Brooks filed a complaint alleging that his Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated each time brig officials were present when he called his attorney. According to Brooks, the presence of the guards “chilled his attorney-client communications” because the guards were able to overhear his conversations.

The court of appeals rejected Brooks’ Sixth Amendment claim. Even assuming brig personnel were close enough to overhear Brooks’ conversations, he was unable to show prejudice, the court held. See: United States v. Brooks, 66 M.J. 221 (2008).

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Related legal case

United States v. Brooks