Sunday, December 8, 2013

Glazner v. Glazner case brief

Glazner v. Glazner case brief summary
347 F.3d 1212 (2003)

Plaintiff wife sued defendant husband for allegedly violating the wiretapping provisions of Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Acts of 1968, 18 U.S.C.S. §§ 2510-22. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama granted summary judgment for the husband. A panel of the instant court affirmed that decision. The court granted the wife's application for a hearing en banc.

After filing for divorce from the wife, the husband put a recording device on a telephone in the marital home. The device recorded conversations between the wife and third parties without the consent of any party to the conversations. The wife discovered the device and sued, seeking damages for, inter alia, the husband's alleged violation of Title III.


  • Based on circuit precedent recognizing an interspousal exception to Title III liability for a wiretapping violation, the district court granted summary judgment to the husband on the wife's federal claim, and the appellate panel affirmed that decision. 
  • The court then granted the wife's application for a rehearing en banc to determine whether the prior precedent should be overturned. 
  • With one dissent, the court answered that question in the affirmative. 
  • Since the instant circuit recognized an interspousal exception to Title III liability, an overwhelming majority of federal circuit and district courts had refused to imply such an exception.
  • Furthermore, applying a modified Chevron Oil test, the court concluded that its decision should apply retroactively; the law of every state in the circuit already made the husband's action illegal.
The court reversed the summary judgment granted for the husband and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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