Kinoy v. Mitchell – Government Misconduct – CCR Docket 1981-1982

The widespread use of illegal electronic surveillance in the name of “national security” is a central form of government misconduct. This case involves both domestic and so-called foreign security surveillance and in an early landmark decision established a plaintiff ‘s right to bring a civil action without having proof of wiretapping.

Filed on behalf of Arthur Kinoy, movement lawyer, law professor and a founder of CCR, until recently the case in­volved Kinoy’s 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, Kinoy was told that the government had discovered at least 400 volumes disclos­ing at least 200 addition al overhearings. 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, yet un-retrieved, overhearings of Kinoy. We are pressing for fuller disclosure and believe we will find even more surveillance of Kinoy and his clients- people who have symbolized the struggles of peoples’ movements for the last 25 years.

The government claims that much of the requested material is privileged and therefore non-discoverable for national security reasons. This claim is particularly out­rageous because of Kinoy’s status as a prominent attorney and the absence of any legitimate reason to investigate him.

Michael Ratner and Rhonda Copelon with Marshall Perlin and CCR Cooperating Attorney Jeremiah Gutman