Defense Attorney Michael Tario in the No Spin Zone

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Dec. 14, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight. Last night, I spoke with Michael Tario, the defense attorney who represented the 17-year-old mugger in the case I just mentioned. Here's how the conversation went.


O'REILLY: Counselor, now you can understand how parents across the country are going to be outraged by this Washington state supreme court ruling? Basically said a 14-year-old girl has an expectation of privacy with an accused felon. I mean, if it were my daughter, I would just be outraged. How do you see it?

MICHAEL TARIO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, certainly understand a lot of those feelings. When this case originally started, though, Bill, it started— the prosecution was taking the position that every cordless phone anyone uses in the whole state is fair game for wiretapping and snooping. That's what the case was about when it went to the Supreme Court, although now the court has ruled - but one thing your listeners may not know is that in 1967, Washington passed a law making it a crime for any person to intercept a private conversation. And a second provision saying that any evidence gathered shall not be admissible in court.

The problem in this case, Bill, was the fact that they took the evidence, the mother didn't use it for parental reasons. The mom took the evidence to the prosecution and it was used to prosecute my clients.

O'REILLY: Yes, but there's—you know, as you know, there were varying interpretations of the law. That's why it got to the supreme court of the state.

And the mother basically was trying to protect her child, use the information as any citizen would have to report a felony, because the kid, your client, admitted on the phone that he did this terrible thing to the old lady and threw the purse, I understand, in the bushes or something.

So there were extenuating circumstances here rather than, you know, using and conniving to tape somebody and entrap that person. It wasn't like that. It was—the crime unfolded. You had a witness who heard about the crime trying to protect a 14-year-old who was on the phone with a 17-year-old accused felon.

Come on. I mean, the judges interpreted this very narrowly, I say.

TARIO: Well, what actually happened, the facts weren't quite that way. The police had this crime. They suspected that Mr. Christensen may have been the person. So the police went to Mrs. Dixon and said we know your daughter talks to him. He's a suspect. Why don't you keep your eyes and ears open?

O'REILLY: Yes, as any police agency would do.

TARIO: Well, they couldn't get a warrant to tap the phone. And basically, they were using her as their agent and trying to put it under the disguise of...

O'REILLY: Yes, because you can't tap the phone of a 14-year-old girl who's not involved with the crime. Are you telling me, counselor, that you subscribe to now the law in Washington which says that you—are you a parent, by the way? Do you have kids?

TARIO: No, I thought you'd asked that.


TARIO: But a parent can still monitor their children. The court did not say you can't do that.

O'REILLY: All right, so if I move to Seattle tomorrow and I monitor - - and I pick up the phone and my 14-year-old daughter is on the phone with a heroin dealer, I can't bring that information to the cops, sir?

TARIO: You can bring that information. It depends how you gather it. And...

O'REILLY: I heard it on the phone just the way this woman heard it on the phone. My 14-year-old's arranging a drug deal. I can't go and testify against the drug dealer who agrees to sell her drugs? Come on. That's what this is all about.

TARIO: But Bill, in the 25 years I've been in this business, I've never seen a prosecutor prosecute someone for this. It just wouldn't happen.


TARIO: The only time it happened — you know, it hasn't happened.

O'REILLY: But counselor, look, we all know that this is a strange case, but your client was convicted of a felony of knocking an old lady to the ground and stealing her purse. He served nine months in prison.

Now he's out because this court said oh, you can't eavesdrop on your 14-year-old daughter talking with a felon. You can't do that. That's insane. Come on.

TARIO: Well, that is insane if those were the facts. But this woman was offered a reward. The police were working with her. There was no independent evidence of a purse snatch here, Bill.

O'REILLY: But he did it. Your client did it.

TARIO: According to what the mother said.

O'REILLY: No, according to what he said.

TARIO: There's no — well, you'd have to listen to exactly what was said. And there was no tape of it. It would be better if there was.

O'REILLY: Are you telling me that your client didn't do it?

TARIO: My client has always asserted his innocence. I wasn't there. Unfortunately we would know. It was just a mother's word against his word.

O'REILLY: And a child, a 14-year-old backing up the mother. You know this.

TARIO: Well...

O'REILLY: I'm going to give you the last word on this, but I think this is a chilling, chilling decision that inhibits all parents from knowing what their children are doing. Go.

TARIO: Well, the parents have the right to put their ear to the door. They have the right to say don't use the phone. They have the right to say talk to your friends in the kitchen. They have the right to monitor their children, as they should.

I think she should, but they don't have the right to do it FBI style. Because Bill, what about the rights of the people that the kid is talking to? It could be the doctor. It could be a lawyer.

And if a parent can eavesdrop and snoop for one reason, they can do it for every reason. And when this case started, the prosecution was saying every cordless phone, if you're in a restaurant, Bill, and you call your wife, lawyer, stockbroker, they were trying to say that's OK to do.

O'REILLY: Right.

TARIO: And all we did is go to the court and say no.

O'REILLY: We'll let the audience decide. We really appreciate you putting forth your point of view there, counselor. Thanks very much.

TARIO: Thank you very much. Thank you.

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