By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
U.S. district Judge Jorge Solis has made it possible for a few more listeners to hear the notorious "Peavy Tapes."
Judge Solis, responding to motions made by U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins, ruled this week that the FBI can forward the tapes to the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The judge also said that the FBI can play the tapes for any of the individuals--and their attorneys--whose conversations have been captured on the recordings.
The "Peavy Tapes" were made when a neighbor of former DISD board member Dan Peavy illegally intercepted some of Peavy's home telephone calls on a police scanner. Peavy was subsequently indicted, and eventually acquitted, on federal bribery charges. The tapes were part of the evidence prosecutors requested to use at the trial. But Judge Solis ruled that the tapes could only be used to impeach witnesses and must otherwise be kept under seal. As it turned out, prosecutors never chose to play any of the recordings at Peavy's trial.
This past January, however, after Peavy's acquittal, U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins told the Dallas Observer that he was going to ask Justice Department investigators to review the tapes to determine if there was any evidence of civil rights violations. The tapes had captured conversations between Peavy and former DISD board president Sandy Kress, who discussed ways to limit the influence of black trustees.
In his rulings this week, Judge Solis stated that he will give the FBI authority to allow "anyone that is identified as a participant in one of the intercepted conversations" to review a transcript of any talks to which they were a party. If a transcript is not available, the judge ruled that the individuals may listen to the tapes.
But the judge explicitly forbade prospective listeners from obtaining copies of transcripts or tapes from the FBI. Indeed, the judge even barred the listeners from taking notes of the contents of the intercepted conversations. To acquire their own copy of a portion of the tapes, the judge ruled, individuals must file a separate motion with him.
In a related ruling, Judge Solis allowed Peavy's defense lawyers to keep their copies of the tape transcripts. But at the same time, he ordered Peavy and his co-defendant in the bribery case, Gene Oliver, who was also acquitted, to return all their copies of tapes and transcripts to their defense counsel. The judge made it clear that he didn't want Peavy to be the source of any more leaks about the intercepted conversations
Judge Solis gave Peavy and Oliver 15 days to comply with the order.