Former investigator is denied request for 'client's' jail phone calls

Former investigator is denied request for 'client's' jail phone calls »Play Video

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- A former private investigator was denied access to jail phone calls after filing a request. Stephanie Barnes had her license revoked after being convicted of two felonies. KIMA was in court today as prosecutors made their case against her.

It's something Stephanie Barnes routinely received as a private investigator: client's jail phone calls. But she can't do that anymore.
     
Barnes had her investigators license revoked after pleading guilty to tampering with a witness in January. She spent five months in jail. Court documents say she admitted to getting witnesses to change their stories in serious, sometimes violent court cases.

When Barnes was an investigator under "S-and-P Investigations Consulting" she was able to request jail calls. In late January she changed the name of her company and requested calls for Adriana Uribe, who is facing felony charges including an arson at the Wapato Jail. The reason for the request was listed as a "clients request."

Prosecutors fought to keep the audio from being released.

"I think there's a real danger and there's even more so when it's a person's own voice," prosecutor Gary Hintze said.

They claimed there were exemptions to public records, and that Barnes is a danger to witnesses and inmates with what personal calls could include. In the end, the judge sided with the state, and barred the release of any of the calls to Stephanie Barnes. Barnes' voiced her opinion that it was a personal attack.

"I paid my debt to society as far as the state should be concerned," Barnes said in court. "I paid my debt to society so why am I getting treated any differently now?"

Barnes said she doesn't plan to file any more requests and was just doing it for a friend who didn't have the proper equipment to listen to the calls.

The judge said jail calls are not public record and need to be kept away from the public realm to protect the jail, it's inmates, and employees.