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United States v. Tavarez – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Tavarez, 40 F.3d 1136 (10th Cir. 1994), the Tenth Circuit was called upon to interpret a jurisdictional requirement of the Oklahoma Security of Communications Act.

The Oklahoma provision, like the federal provision of Title III (18 U.S.C. § 2518(3)) and like Maryland's § 10-408(c)(2), confines the judge's authority to approve an interception "within the territorial jurisdiction of the court in which the judge is sitting."

The authorizing judge, the applicant district attorney, and the ultimate listening post were in Oklahoma District 21, but the two phones that were being tapped were in Oklahoma District 19.

The Tenth Circuit held that the listening post qualifies as a point of interception.

Although courts have not previously interpreted this provision of the Oklahoma Act, we note that our interpretation is in accordance with federal court interpretations of the similarly worded federal statute, 18 U.S.C. 2518(3). Section 2518(3) authorizes a federal judge to approve the interception of wire communications "within the territorial jurisdiction of the court in which the judge is sitting." The Second Circuit has held that "for purposes of 2518(3)'s jurisdictional requirement, a communication is intercepted not only where the tapped telephone is located, but also where the contents of the redirected communication are first to be heard.

We hold that the location of an "interception" for purposes of section 176.9(C) includes the place where the intercepted communication is heard. (Id. at 1138.)