Sunday, August 22, 2004

Judge: Accepting Boehner phone tape illegal

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A federal judge has sided with Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, in his 6-year-old suit against Rep. James McDermott, D-Wash., over an illegally recorded phone call.

Boehner of West Chester sued McDermott after a Florida couple, using a scanner, recorded a 1996 conference call in which Boehner, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and other House leaders discussed strategy involving announcement of an ethics committee finding against Gingrich.

The couple gave the tape to McDermott, who was on the ethics committee at the time, and the contents ended up in news stories.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan ruled Friday that McDermott "participated in an illegal transaction when he accepted the tape."

McDermott had admitted leaking the taped phone conversation to reporters. But he argued that he did not break the law by receiving the tape and that punishing him for making it public would violate his free-speech rights.

The judge said McDermott had no First Amendment protection because he knew he was receiving a recording that had been illegally obtained.

Hogan set a hearing for Sept. 16 to discuss whether Boehner should be awarded punitive damages and attorney costs.

Calls to the offices of Boehner and McDermott were not returned Saturday.

Hogan had dismissed the case in 1998, saying the charges amounted to partisan politics. But a divided appeals court reinstated it the next year.

McDermott appealed to the Supreme Court, which sent it back to the appeals court. That court allowed Boehner to amend his suit and argue it again.

The couple who taped the call pleaded guilty in 1997 to unlawfully intercepting a phone conversation and paid $500 each in fines.

Bronson: Resignations finally brought patients help
Crowley: Picnic energizes party
Bake sale helps hurricane victims
Crowley: Around Northern Kentucky

Museum to get world's attention
1,500 on guest list for center's soiree
DNA registry offers tool for adoptees
Warehouse rubble smolders
Barrel Co. owner's Columbus firm sued
Church works to regain trust
Judge: Accepting Boehner phone tape illegal
Rare rhino needs a unique name
Local news briefs

Dig at Civil War site will include citizens
Benefit helps pay for boy's life-saving surgery
Jail guards against suicide
GOP doesn't stand for 'gay old party'
Soldiers' blood may be key to anthrax medicine
Kentucky news briefs

Schools face addition by subtraction
Slimmer, trimmer school systems await students this year
Fairfield parents letter in funding
Pressure is off on N.Ky. schools
Greater Cincinnati school levies on ballot
Students get up to 10 days for field trips

200,000 people get reacquainted at river
Dads go to bat for ballfield
Threatened barn owls near a record for chicks, nests

Faith Hunter devoted life to ministry
Simon Kinsella was writing his first book
Frank Gulley, 78, was church elder