House passes statewide wiretap bill
11:48 am, January 31st, 2013
Georgia’s House of Representatives has approved a bill that will allow superior court judges to grant wiretap warrants that are applicable statewide.
House Bill 55 seeks to override a recent state Supreme Court decision that found wiretap orders must be issued by judges with jurisdiction where law enforcement listening posts are located. The bill would change the law so that a judge with jurisdiction over the crime under investigation may issue a wiretap warrant that is applicable statewide, not just within the judge’s geographical jurisdiction.
“As we all know, drug trafficking does not confine itself to neat geographic boundaries,” the bill’s sponsor, House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee Chairman Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, told the chamber. “The bill will change Georgia statute … so law enforcement can keep doing what it is doing. I want to make it clear it does not expand government authority as it relates to use of wiretap warrants.”
The bill also would allow judges to authorize the use of a pen register or trap-and-trace device statewide. Law enforcement uses these devices to track the patterns, but not the substance, of calls in real time in order to establish probable cause for securing a wiretap warrant.
Today’s 164-1 vote and immediate transmittal to the Senate move the bill along its quick trajectory through the General Assembly.
The measure is supported by the District Attorneys’ Association of Georgia and has not been opposed by the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
To read more about House Bill 55, see the Daily Report’s previous coverage: http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleDRO.jsp?id=1202585141109