Kinoy v. Mitchell – Government Misconduct – CCR Docket 1978-1979

This civil action was filed on behalf of Arthur Kinoy, movement lawyer, law professor and a founder of CCR, and his daughter Joanne, both of whom were two of the earliest victims of grand jury abuse. (Arthur Kinoy was also responsible for the crucial victory in United States v. United States District Court in which the Supreme Court unanimously declared warrantless electronic surveillance for domestic security purposes unconstitutional). The Kinoy case won an early decision establishing the right to bring a civil action without having proof of wiretapping.

Kinoy v. Mitchell involves both domestic and so-called foreign security wiretapping, and thus addresses the question left open by the Supreme Court in United States v. United States District Court, i.e. the legality of warrantless foreign surveillance. Until last year, the case involved our right to discover wiretap materials relating to 23 overhearings, ten of which were characterized as foreign. After seven years of litigation, the government admitted that the surveillance of Kinoy and his clients far exceeded those 23 overhearings. In fact, we were told that the government had discovered at least 400 volumes of wiretap materials.

A review of these 400 volumes has disclosed at least 200 additional overhearings of Arthur Kinoy. Many, if not all, of the overheard conversations involved legal advice given by Kinoy to clients. In disclosing these additional taps, the government indicated that their system for finding such taps in FBI files is totally inadequate and that there are probably more overhearings of Arthur Kinoy in the files. We are pressing for a fuller disclosure and believe we will find even more massive surveillance of Kinoy and his clients, who have symbolized the struggles and government repression of different peoples’ movements for the last 25 years. We are preparing further discovery papers and an amended complaint.

Rhonda Copelon, Michael Ratner with Jeremiah Gutman