(credit: James Vaughan)

Defense attorneys have asked a federal judge to throw out more than 200 hours of conversations FBI agents recorded using hidden microphones planted near the steps of a county courthouse in Silicon Valley.
The lawyers are representing defendants accused of engaging in an illicit real estate bid-rigging and fraud conspiracy. The steps to the San Mateo County courthouse are frequently the scene of public auctions for foreclosed homes. Federal prosecutors have admitted that on at least 31 occasions in 2009 and 2010, FBI agents used concealed microphones to record auction participants as they spoke, often in hushed voices with partners, attorneys, and others. Because the federal agents didn’t obtain a court order, the defense attorneys argue the bugging violated Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
In a court brief filed Friday in the case, attorneys wrote:
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