Wiretap bill close to passage
2:18 pm, February 12th, 2013
A bill that will allow superior court judges to grant statewide wiretap warrants is zooming through the Georgia General Assembly. In a 48-6 vote today, Georgia senators approved House Bill 55. It will go to the governor’s desk for his signature.
HB 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.
Revisions to the bill that removed citations of O.C.G.A. § 16-11-60, which defines legal surveillances devices, sparked some questions on the Senate floor today.
Committee Chairman Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, who is the bill’s Senate sponsor, said the rationale for the citation’s removal is to allow for changing and expanding technology. Senator Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, who is a lawyer, asked whether the removal broadens the definition of a surveillance device, to which Stone replied that the Legislature would have to change O.C.G.A. § 16-11-60 first.
The bill passed the House on Jan. 31 in a 164-1 vote.
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.