Behind Bars

Andy Griffith Vs. the Patriot Act

By Bonnie Weinstein

Check out this YouTube video from the once popular TV show, The Andy Griffith Show, episode 227, called “Tape Recorder,” originally aired October 30, 1967.1

In the show, Andy Griffith plays widower Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina. He has a young son, Opie, about ten-years-old, played by Ron Howard.

In this episode, Sheriff Andy locks up a Mister Eddie Blake, a suspected bank robber, played by Herbie Faye, who was brought in for questioning by a State Trooper. Opie’s friend, Arnold, played by Sheldon Collins, just got a new tape-recorder from his father. So Opie and Arnold get the bright idea to bug the cell, recording a conversation between Blake and his lawyer.

The boys listen to the recording and hear Blake confessing to his lawyer about the robbery and then to try, unsuccessfully, to bribe his lawyer with the money he hid in an old, dry well.

Opie runs to his Pa, Sheriff Taylor, with the tape-recorded conversation.

Opie bursts in, agitated and breathless, saying, “Pa! Pa! We hid it near the cell window…” and hands Sheriff Andy the tape recorder. “Wait a minute, wait a minute, what is it, Opie? What are you taking about?” asks Andy.

“We bugged Mr. Blake’s cell!” exclaims Opie. “You what?” responds Sheriff Andy. “We bugged the cell with Arnold’s tape recorder, just listen to this, Pa!” Opie says. “I can’t listen to that!” exclaims Andy, rather indignantly. “But Pa…” says Opie.

Interrupting Opie, Andy says, “I can’t listen to that, I’m not permitted!” “But, Pa, you don’t understand,” pleads Opie. “Now, I can’t listen to this! Now, I told you about eavesdropping…” says Andy. “But Pa, this is different…” says Opie. “Yes, it’s worse! You overheard a conversation that was supposed to be private. Now I can’t be a party to that!” says the good Sheriff Taylor. “But Pa, if you just listen to this…”

At that moment Andy pushes the erase button. “Pa, you’re erasing the tape!” cries Opie. “That what I mean to do! You bugged a conversation between a lawyer and his client. Now that’s violating one of the most sacred rights of privacy!” explains Andy. “But Pa…” cries Opie. “No buts!” says Andy. “But if it helps the law?” pleads Opie.

“Opie, the law can’t use this kind of help…because whether a man is guilty or innocent, we have to find that out by due process of law.”

Unfortunately, and predictably, at the end of the episode, the tape recording did prove to be useful—even though the good Sheriff Andy had nothing to do with it—to garner a “confession” from the prisoner.

The Patriot Act now makes this practice of recording conversations between attorney and client routine and legal in cases of suspected “terrorism.”

Just ask defense attorney Lynne Stewart, now spending ten years in Federal Prison in Carswell, Texas. Her whole case and that of her co-defendants—Ahmed Abdel Sattar, Stewart’s paralegal, sentenced to 20 years; and Mohamed Yousry, her interpreter, sentenced to 20 months—was based upon “evidence” garnered by government eavesdropping.

It’s important to differentiate, however, that in Lynne Stewart’s case, the government showed NO illegal acts committed by her, or her co-defendants.

The “evidence” did show that Stewart did an excellent job of trying to defend her client—as she has always been known to do throughout her long and exemplary career as a defense attorney.2

1 Clip:

Full Episode:

Part 1:

Part 2:

2 “Lynne Stewart and Attorney-Client Privilege”

Lynne Stewart Defense Committee,
1070 Dean Street,
Brooklyn, New York 11216.
For further information: 718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759; Write to Lynne Stewart #53504-054, Unit 2N, Federal Medical Center, Carswell, P..O.. Box 27137, Fort Worth, Texas 76127