Investigators raided the offices May 2 in search of a cellphone tied to a case being tried at the base, north of San Diego, Lt. Col. Clay Plummer told The Associated Press.
“This is just unacceptable,” said Plummer, the Marine Corps’ regional defense counsel for the West. “Just think of the U.S. federal Marshals or FBI raiding a public defender’s office, that’s what this is the equivalent to. It’s crazy.”
Marine Corps officials called it a “rare event” and said a neutral, independent judge advocate has been appointed to review the seized evidence to identify whether any potential privileged material was improperly disclosed. Also to be reviewed is how the search was conducted.
Officials said they could not comment further because of pending litigation and the independent review.
Defense lawyers were contacting hundreds of clients to inform them that military law enforcement officials had opened case files, Plummer said.
The search’s authorization was granted by the area commander. Two armed, uniformed officers and members of the criminal investigative division came into the building and did not allow anyone to leave while they searched for the cellphone, Plummer said. They searched every attorney’s office — including those with no relation to the case — and continued to search even after locating the cellphone, he said.
This should get interesting.