More than 2,370 applications for wiretaps were filed and granted last year in state and federal courts across the country, marking a 26 percent increase above the previous year, according to a report issued today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
The report, which captures applications filed between January and December last year, shows that 86 percent of all wiretap applications targeted drug crimes. Homicide cases were the second most frequently cited crime.
Federal authorities accounted for 663 applications, and state authorities made up the rest (1,713 applications) of the 2,376 wiretaps orders. Wiretap applications in California, New York and New Jersey made up 71 percent of the applications that state judges approved. The AO report said no applications were denied in either state or federal court. (Last year's numbers topped 2007, in which 2,208 applications were approved.)
The top five federal district courts with the most intercept orders in 2009: Arizona (72); Northern District of Illinois (51); Southern District of Texas (37); Northern District of Texas (32); and the Northern District of Georgia (31). There were 16 orders filed in the District of Columbia, and eight applications in both Maryland and the Eastern District of Virginia.
The wiretap report examines, among other things, the average length of wiretaps, the cost associated with a wire intercept and the impact: arrests and convictions. Click here for a copy of the report.