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Attorney Wayne
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I was recorded on my office phone about (5) years ago. I was

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I was recorded on my office phone about (5) years ago. I was extremely upset and mad numerous derogatory comments concerning people in my office and elected officials. What legal action(s) can be taken against me? At the time of the conversations, I worked for another elected official who has since retired. I think this may be the basis that is being used to place hidden cameras and listening devices in my home; however, I am not a threat to anyone, and I have never been a threat to anyone. I've never committed any crimes in my life, unless you count getting a few speeding tickets. Please help me.
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Hello. Thanks for contacting us. I am sorry to hear of this worry. People often say things in the heat of the moment that they might not say when cooler heads prevail -- and no one wants those hot moments recorded secretly!

The key question is based on the state where the call was recorded, and who recorded it. Did the office have a policy that all phone calls on office lines are recorded (like when one calls a brokerage or mutual fund office?) If so, then the office had a right to record. But if it was recorded by someone else, then that person (In Mississippi) would need consent from at least one person participating in the phone call (called "one-party consent).

12 Other states require "two-party consent" for phone recordings (although an announcement at the outset of the communication that "we are on a recorded line" is notice one party can object and withhold permission).

If the person spoken to was in a 2-party consent state, then the recording could be illegal! So it is important to be sure whoever made the recording had such consent (in Mississippi, being part of the phone conversation is enough). If not, then it may be possible to send a warning letter informing the person that consent was not granted by any party to the call and that the person is potentially liable either civilly or criminally.

If the call recordings were legally made, then the real legal issues involve such things as defamation (but it is nearly impossible to defame people in public life, since the things said must not just be false, but also said with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth). Other possible issues could arise if there was a confidentiality agreement or some other legal contract that was violated. Or if secret information was revealed contrary to law (but this is rare outside of national security or criminal investigations).

Ultimately, the biggest problem for people who work in public affairs is reputational. Such utterances can ruin one's reputation in the field if they come to light. That's why it may be a good strategy to try to stop revelations -- if the tapes were illegally produced without consent.

Please feel free to follow-up for clarification in the next text box.

I wish you speedy resolution in this matter.
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