The Violation of the U.S. Wiretapping Laws

The case is based on the violation of the U.S. wiretapping laws. This is in reference to the 18 U.S.C Section 2511(1) act. In this case Mr. Ciril Gallardo, who is the defendant, is being accused by his divorced wife Mr. Julia Gallardo who is the plaintiff. The defendant is accused of invading her privacy through the transcription of the incoming and outgoing telephone conversations from her telephone. Mr. Gallardo who is the biological father of Thomas, their only son admits to having tapped the telephone conversations particularly those involving his son Thomas. He attributes this to his curiosity in knowing the state of his son. He admits that he needed to know how his son was doing at school and hence resorted to the transcription of the incoming and outgoing telephone calls from his wives phone. Thomas who had just joined a military school seems to have had problems fitting in the new environment and he often communicated this to his mother who was supposed to convey the same to the defendant. The two had joint custody of their son Thomas owing to a Superior court ruling. They however had several disputes concerning their son. Mr. Gallardo for instance was opposed to the idea of Thomas having to go to a military school, an idea that Mrs. Gallardo supported fully.

It is quite evident that defendant recorded and transcribed all the conversations that were particularly concerning Thomas, who is his son, an issue that the plaintiff perceived as the invasion of her privacy. From the evidence given, it is quite clear that in some of the cases the defendant could listen to a conversation between the plaintiff and her former childhood friend Mr. Jamel Smith even though the defendant perceived this as a defilement of family issues.

Rule

The 2511(1) statute which is referred to as the ‘Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act’ stipulates that anyone who discloses information that is found from the interception of a wire communication is guilty of violating the law. In this particular case, Mr. Gallardo recorded the plaintiff’s conversation even though he did not disclose it to any other person. Despite the fact that he overheard the conversation between the plaintiff and Mr. Smith, he never confronted Smith over the same matter. In any case, he could delete the transcriptions as soon as he finished looking at them. The fact that he did not disclose the information to the third party proves that he was not in breach of this particular statute. Looking at the legislative history, the statute was particularly enacted in reference to business matters like corporate espionage and those cases that are concerned with organized crime and not necessarily in family or domestic matters as it is in this case (Finklea, 2009).

It is quite evident that the defendant did not have any ill intentions while carrying out the transcription. In any case, he was interested in the welfare of his son given that the plaintiff could not give him a full report on the state of Thomas. This is clear indication that he is a responsible parent who finds it difficult to stay at a comfort zone without finding out how his son is doing. The omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act as it is known was enacted to allow for some level of privacy and prevent unmerited intrusion into a person’s privacy. In the given case however, the defendant had to intrude because that was the only way he could get to know about his Son.

Analysis of the Case

Considering the Simpson v. Simpson case, (5th Cir. 1974), the intension of Congress was not for the act to apply to domestic conflicts in homes, instead it was intended to prevent electronic surveillance in the cases that concern marital litigation. This case has nothing to do with the Omnibus Crime Control and Safety Streets act as this is a domestic affair. The act clearly indicates that the defendant would be held responsible of invading another person’s privacy had a third party been involved. In this case however, the information was not leaked to any third party which is an indication that the statute was not violated. The act is ambiguous in this particular case as it is not concerned with domestic matters yet this is a domestic matter (Hutton, 1998). The act was particularly enacted to tackle business issues and organized crime. Considering the legislative history, these facts can be derived from the quote found in the anonymous v. anonymous case;

Anonymous v. Anonymous, 558 F.2d 677, 679 (2d Cir.1977) “the [ordinary course of business provision] was added to the House Bill after Professor Herman Schwartz testified for the ACLU before the House Judiciary Committee that he feared that the original version of the bill, which had no such language, would permit policemen and private intruders to enter others’ homes and listen in on extension phones without penalty”

The quote is a clear indication that the ‘Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act’ was enacted so as to ensure the safety of business entities from the intrusion of their privacy. Because the case at hand involves individuals and not business entities, then the act is not relevant in this particular case.

It is quite clear from the Simpson v. Simpson case that recording the conversation of a spouse is permitted under certain circumstances. This quote from the Simpson v. Simpson case is a clear indication of this quote:

Simpson v. Simpson, 490 F.2d 803 (5th Cir.), “…indicative of Congress'[s] intention to abjure from deciding a very intimate question of familial relations, that of the extent of privacy family members may expect within the home [in relation to] each other.” Basing on this, the court was able to dismiss the case. The circumstance under which the case was dismissed is the one presented in this case of Mrs. Julia Gallardo and Mr. Ciril Gallardo.

Conclusion

From the evidence presented, it is quite clear that the defendant did not violet this act when he acted in the way that he did. This is because a third party was not involved which implies that he did not disclose the information to anyone. The 2511(1) statute is ambiguous in this particular case as it does not refer to domestic cases but instead it refers to cases that have to do with business matters or issues to do with organized crime. In this case, there is no evidence to show that the defendant had any ill intensions in transcribing the conversation. In any case, his intention has been perceived as being of good intention given that he wanted to know how his own son was doing. Given that the plaintiff could not avail the information to him, he devise a way of ensuring that the same happens. The defendant is therefore innocent.

References

Finklea, K. (2009). Organized Crime in the United States: Trends and Issues for Congress. Web.

Hutton, J. (1998). The Omnibus crime control and safe streets act: background. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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