Road Prison Commander issued ‘secret’ memo on legal visitations

Jail Bars
County Attorney Alison Rogers emailed me the memo from Commander C.S. Snow of the Escambia Road Prison which orders all shift supervisors to only allow those attorneys listed on the Clerk of Court website as an inmate’s attorney in his criminal case to be allow to visit with that inmate.

As of this moment, all atty/client visits except atty’s from the Public Defenders Office or the State Atty’s Office with proper identification will be verified through the Escambia Clerk of Courts website.

Each inmate they request to see shall be reviewed for compliance with this memo. You WILL (his emphasis) look up each inmate through the court records section of the clerk of courts website and follow these directions:

1) Go to online public records.
2) Click on court records.
3) Enter the inmates name and press search.
4) The case numbers will be highlighted in the left hand column. Each case shall be reviewed in the description section. This description section will state which attorney was or is assigned to each particular case. Be thorough in your research to avoid errors.

If the atty. requesting the visit is not assigned to any of the cases, he WILL NOT (his emphasis) be allowed an interview and shall be directed to correspond with the inmate through the mail or by telephone.

Snow instructed his staff not to share the memo with anyone:

This memorandum will shall not be copied or distributed to anyone without a properly signed and requested public records request through proper legal channels.

In his last sentence, he did allow a venue for inmates to request attorneys:

It should be noted that any inmate can request a legal counsel visit with a specific attorney of his choosing and the visit should be granted according to each inmates specific request.

The county attorney is changing these restrictions.

“Access should not be denied for any attorney, although protocols for dealing with access can be reasonable under the circumstances,” wrote Rogers, “I have asked the Corrections staff to be sure to allow as close to immediate access as possible for current criminal AND (Her emphasis) civil attorneys. Likewise, if an inmate has requested access to a prospective attorney or legal staff, also try to provide as close to immediate access as possible.”

Here is the memo: atty_client_visits.

Notes: We reported on this blog the restriction on legal counsel on May 7, two days before this memo. The memo is a public record and should have been made available to attorneys and inmates upon request.

Attorney Gene Mitchell put his request in writing on Saturday to a supervisor at the work release facility. The sergeant crumbled the request and was about to throw it in the trash before Mitchell objected. The attorney has no idea if the request was forwarded to anyone.

Yesterday, Mitchell was again denied access by the same sergeant to an inmate whose family asked him to see.