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Maricopa County prosecutor will appeal federal wiretap ruling

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PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Friday he will appeal a federal court’s ruling that his office’s wiretap authorization practices disregarded U.S. law.

The wiretapping led to a civil lawsuit.

“We will seek review by the United States Supreme Court. The 9th Circuit had an opportunity to accurately deal with the facts and the law in this case and failed to do so,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement.

He challenged the appeals court interpretation of Arizona’s law, A.R.S. 13-3010(A).

Last month, the appeals court panel said that Montgomery’s underlings reviewed and approved electronic-surveillance warrants. Federal law stated the principle prosecuting attorney — Montgomery — is required to do that. The office also depended on a state law that was less restrictive.

The wiretapping from 2011-2012 was authorized in surveillance of a suspected drug criminal. Manuela Villa, who was not a target in the investigation, filed the suit saying her privacy had been violated because her phone calls had been recorded.

The 9th Circuit said that while the prosecutor’s office had acted in good faith sanctioning the wiretap, the woman’s right had been violated because of the legal conflict.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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