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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Lawyer Says Sheriff Snooped on Conversation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CN) - A St. Johns County Sheriff's detective surreptitiously recorded a discussion between an attorney and her client at the sheriff's office, the attorney claims in Federal Court. Anne Marie Gennusa says Det. Thomas Marmo audiotaped and videotaped her private conversation with her client, then blocked her exit from the room and snatched her notes out of her hand.

Gennusa says she met with her client, and now co-plaintiff, Joel Studivant, in the sheriff's office on Dec. 9.

Gennusa says she and Studivant met with Marmo to compose a statement regarding a separate investigation Marmo was conducting. Marmo left them in a private interview room to write the statement but never told them their conversation would be audio- and video-taped, Gennusa says.

After being informed of her client's impending arrest, Gennusa and Studivant decided not to hand over their statement, which was incomplete, not given under oath, had not been seen by the detective nor signed in front of a witness, according to the complaint.

After a heated exchange with Marmo, the detective blocked the entrance to the room and snatched the statement out of the attorney's hand with such force that it broke her fingernail, Gennusa says. Studivant was handcuffed and taken to jail, and the statement was never returned.

Gennusa and her client sued Marmo and St. John's County Sheriff David Shoar for constitutional violations and violation of the federal wiretapping act. They seek punitive damages and costs.

They are represented by William Sheppard with Sheppard, White, Thomas and Kachergus.

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