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Peterson lawyers subpoena judge in wiretap dispute

Scott Peterson, left, and attorney Mark Geragos listen last week in court to Assistant District Attorney Rick Distaso.
Scott Peterson, left, and attorney Mark Geragos listen last week in court to Assistant District Attorney Rick Distaso.

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MODESTO, California (CNN) -- Lawyers for Scott Peterson have subpoenaed the judge who approved a wiretap on Scott Peterson's telephone, arguing he violated rules governing a capital murder case, court officials said Tuesday.

Judge Wray Ledine allowed police to intercept Peterson's phone calls beginning in January and met with investigators for updates as they built a case. Defense attorney Kirk McAllister said that under California rules governing a death penalty case, Ledine should have had a court reporter present during those meetings, but did not.

Prosecutors argue the proceedings weren't a capital case until April, when the bodies of Peterson's missing wife, Laci, and their unborn son turned up on the shores of San Francisco Bay.

Scott Peterson faces two counts of murder in the deaths of Laci Peterson, 27, and their unborn child. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in the case; prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

The victims' bodies were found about 80 miles from their home, near the marina where Scott Peterson said he had launched his boat on a fishing trip Christmas Eve, the day his wife disappeared.

Scott Peterson's lead attorney, Mark Geragos, has accused prosecutors of "grave" misconduct over how they handled the wiretaps. Peterson's lawyers said the monitoring of the phone calls violated attorney-client privilege.

Prosecutors said the wiretap intercepted 69 phone calls between Peterson and McAllister. But they said investigators monitored and recorded only short segments of two of the 69 calls, and did not collect information protected by attorney-client privilege.

In a court filing last week responding to the charges, Stanislaus County Assistant District Attorney Rick Distaso said the wiretaps were authorized under both California and federal law.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Al Girolami has scheduled a June 26 hearing to discuss the wiretaps and ordered prosecutors to give related documents and recordings to Peterson's defense team.


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