Attorney: Mayor has turned over phone code in affair probe

Attorney: Mayor has turned over phone code in affair probe

February 23rd, 2018 by Associated Press in Breaking News

FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 7, 2017 file photo, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry speaks during a news conference in her office in Nashville, Tenn.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's attorney said Friday that she has provided the passcode for her personal cellphone to state authorities, who are searching the device as they investigate whether laws were broken during her affair with her former bodyguard.

Barry's attorney, Jerry Martin, said he provided the code to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Friday and is confident the bureau will keep its search to items relevant to the investigation.

"Simply put, the Mayor continues to cooperate with the investigation and knows eventually she will be cleared of any criminal wrongdoing," Martin wrote in a statement.

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Authorities obtained and turned over the phone to a third party for analysis Thursday after Barry's attorney refused multiple times to provide the passcode to access it, according to the filings.

Martin contends the agency sought a search warrant even after he told authorities Barry would turn over the phone as long as investigators did not access unrelated conversations and materials that could violate conversations with her attorney that are privileged.

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Also on Friday, the mayor's office circulated a legal opinion that District Attorney General Glenn Funk and his office should recuse themselves from the investigation because they depend on securing city funding for his office.

In an opinion requested by Martin, Memphis attorney Lucian T. Pera wrote that Funk is required by the Tennessee lawyer ethics rules and case law to recuse or be disqualified. Barry's office notes that Pera is a prominent legal ethics expert and current president of the Tennessee Bar Association.

Martin continued criticisms Friday about the public release of search warrant affidavits this week, saying it raises serious concerns about the investigation's course and conduct.

According to the affidavits, two photos of a woman, one nude and another partially nude, were taken with the work cellphone of now-retired Sgt. Rob Forrest when he was on the clock. The bureau believes this shows probable cause that he and Barry were engaging in their affair while he was on duty, the affidavits say.

Barry has said that if the photos are of her, they were taken without her knowledge or permission. She contends the affidavits pointing to the photos were released in an attempt to politically damage or embarrass her.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh DeVine said warrants in the agency's cases are only sealed when the information could potentially hinder aspects of the investigation if publicized. Filing search warrants and affidavits under seal is left to the district attorney general and ultimately is up to a judge, DeVine said. The bureau is treating this like any other case, he added.

Martin says Funk told him last week that the release of the photos to the public was imminent. In response, Martin says he told Funk that if those were photos of Barry, they were taken without her consent, so publication of the photos would be a felony under Tennessee law.

The images have not been publicly released.

Funk's office has largely declined to comment on Barry's concerns, citing the ongoing investigation.

Until the investigation is complete, "this office will not have public comment so as to not interfere," he said in a statement Friday.

Barry revealed the affair last month. She apologized for her actions, but contended that nothing illegal happened and no policies were violated. Barry says the affair began in spring 2016, but is now over. She refused to say when it ended.