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Invading your family's privacy



While insisting no laws have been broken or civil rights trampled, the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office has stiffened the requirements to be met by detectives intent on accessing the otherwise private records of suspects' family members. "We, however, in order to avoid this problem again, have changed some of our internal procedures in the way we process subpoena requests," Chief Assistant State Attorney William C. Vose said in an Oct. 1 letter to Steven Mason, an attorney seeking the return of $30,350 seized in an August 1996 drug arrest ("Redefining privacy in a police state," Aug. 21). In investigating the resulting misdemeanor charge, which was later dropped, detectives subpoenaed phone, credit and bank records belonging to relatives of the accused. Since the changes, investigators must justify the need for the subpoenas on forms submitted to a designated state attorney. Still Mason says he may sue on behalf of those whose privacy has been compromised. "This is an awfully powerful private subpoena power," he says.

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