Wiretap Law Professor Blakey Backs Rajaratnam in Appeal

G. Robert Blakey, a law professor who helped draft the U.S. wiretap statute, may submit a brief supporting imprisoned hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam’s effort to overturn his conviction, a U.S. appeals court ruled.

Blakey, who teaches at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana, supports a rehearing of the case against the Galleon Group LLC co-founder, whose insider-trading conviction was upheld in June by the appeals court in New York. Today he was granted the right to submit written arguments.

Rajaratnam, who’s serving an 11-year term at the Federal Medical Center Devens in Ayers, Massachusetts, on July 24 asked for a hearing before the full U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. His conviction was upheld by a three-judge panel.

Rajaratnam, 56, was convicted of directing the biggest hedge fund insider-trading scheme in U.S. history. It was the first such case in which investigators tapped targets’ phone conversations, a tactic used in organized-crime probes.

Jurors listened to more than 45 wiretap recordings, on some of which Rajaratnam can be heard gathering nonpublic information from his sources.

Blakely, who is viewed as the architect of the wiretap statute, called the secret recordings “a method of last resort” in court papers submitted with his request to file the brief on Rajaratnam’s behalf.

“By its very nature eavesdropping involves an intrusion on privacy that is broad in scope,” he wrote.

Required Facts

Authorities investigating Galleon failed to provide key facts in their request to make the recordings, called Title III wiretaps after a part of a 1968 federal law, Blakely wrote. The facts included the existence of an insider-trading investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, he wrote.

The wiretaps shouldn’t have been allowed, and the recordings shouldn’t have been permitted as evidence, he argued.

“If a wiretap was obtained without that necessity ‘fully and completely’ shown, Title III expressly requires the exclusion from evidence the fruits of the illicit behavior.”

The appeal is U.S. v. Rajaratnam, 11-04416, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).

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