Maricopa County attorney seeks U.S. Supreme Court decision on wiretapping

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Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo) Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo)

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery will appeal a federal court's ruling that his office's wiretapping authorization practices don't follow federal law.

Montgomery says he'll ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. It found that Montgomery did not personally review and approve electronic-surveillance warrants as required and instead relied on a state law that is less restrictive.

[READ MORE: Maricopa County wiretap may have run afoul of federal law, court says]

The ruling was issued in a civil lawsuit by Manuela Villa, who claimed her privacy was violated during a drug investigation.

The underlying case involved surveillance ranging from 2011 to 2012 that involved phone lines believed to be involved in drug crimes. Villa, who was not a target of authorized wiretap, had several conversations recorded during the surveillance period and she alleged that her privacy was breached in violation of federal law.

The Ninth Circuit panel found that the County Attorney acted in good faith in authorizing the wiretap application, and Villa has no right to recover damages under federal law. However, it held that Villa's rights were violated because the 45 year-old Arizona law and the system the County Attorney used to approve the wiretap application violated the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.

The ruling said Montgomery's subordinates handled the approval process, and that the wiretaps were then authorized by a judge after prosecutors presented evidence showing probable cause.

Montgomery's announcement of his planned appeal says the 9th Circuit denied his office's motion for reconsideration of the ruling.

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