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Ex-Galveston County Employee Says Judge Bugged Attorney-Client Meeting Rooms

A fired Galveston courts administrator has accused a county judge of bugging rooms where criminal defense attorneys meet with clients who have not bonded out of jail.

Bonnie Quiroga claims in a lawsuit against Galveston County that she was fired from her 14-year job as Director of Justice Administration a day after she told the district attorney that County Judge Mark Henry installed recording devices in "confidential spaces" and therefore violating attorney-client privilege. But Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady said that's not quite what happened.

Filed December 9, Quiroga's lawsuit claims that "the 'bugging' of a space where appointed counsel had to confer with jail inmates under charges violated the most fundamental ethical considerations, depriving accused persons of the benefit of attorney client privileges."

Roady told the Press that Quiroga "didn't say anything about Judge Henry or anybody else bugging meeting rooms or otherwise trying to secretly record any conversations. The phone call that I remember was concerns about the way that our misdemeanor jail docket proceedings were set up in the county jail."

That system, Roady said, consists of a room at the jail outfitted with A/V equipment that allows attorneys and clients to participate in hearings.

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"Bonnie had expressed concern that the way that was set up, that if the attorneys were talking to their clients in that room about attorney-client matters, that the audio-video equipment could [record] that conversation," Roady said. "My take-away from that call was that that could be a problem, and she wanted to make me aware of it, and that she was going to address it."

The accusation is the latest episode of a soap opera that began when Henry fired Quiroga July 24, followed by an administrative judge blocking the termination, followed by the release of embarrassing emails Quiroga sent to Henry.

Quiroga also alleges in her suit that she was fired because of her age and gender, claiming that three "finalists" for her job were male, "substantially younger" than her, and didn't possess "any background in court administration or criminal law. At least one of the three was a lawyer then ineligible to practice, and under a partially probated suspension...."

We can't wait to see what happens next.

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