Monthly Privilege Roundup: Tribe’s Tweet about Trump, the Cravath Movie & Bowe Bergdahl

We see privilege issues discussed in judicial decisions, legal commentary, and mainstream news.  Here is a roundup of interesting privilege issues for August 2016.

→In the upcoming movie “Cravath,” which follows a young Paul Cravath’s representation of George Westinghouse in his lightbulb patent litigation against Thomas Edison, the screenplay author, Graham Moore, ran into privilege issues while researching the Cravath—Westinghouse history.  When Moore asked the Cravath firm to view Cravath—Westinghouse letters that were over 100 years old, the firm declined because the letters remain subject to the attorney-client privilege.  Above the Law has the story here.

→Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe tweeted that Donald Trump asked for his legal advice on a matter, but wondered aloud whether disclosing that conversation would violate the attorney-client privilege.  Tribe, who decided not to disclose the conversation content, nevertheless received rounds of criticism, as this article relays.

→Movie producer Mark Boal interviewed U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and now military prosecutors want access to the audio tapes for Bergdahl’s upcoming court-martial trial.  Boal refuses, citing the journalist’s First Amendment privilege, and several major news organizations have joined the fray.  Read the details here.

→Have you heard about correction officials at the Leavenworth Detention Center recording privileged calls and meetings between prisoners and their attorneys?  And then turning the tapes over to prosecutors? A federal judge ordered the production of all recorded attorney meetings, and is considering appointing a special master to investigate.  Here is a good summary.

→A federal judge allowed U.S. Representative Corrine Brown, (D., Fla.), a self-described “lawyer want-to-be,” to obtain new lawyers for her upcoming trial on federal corruption charges.  The judge allowed the lawyer change after clearing the courtroom to hear discussions otherwise protected by the attorney-client privilege.  The story is here.

→An interesting privilege issue is brewing in Billings, Montana.  The Public Defender’s office has a long-standing practice of informing the local criminal judges if they have “lost contact” with their clients.  The Interim Deputy Chief Public Defender, however, sees this practice as violating the attorney-client privilege and the public defenders’ confidentiality obligations, and wants to stop the practice. The story, including the judges’ reactions, is here.

→Former Utah Attorney General John Swallow is again in the privilege news, this time asking the Utah Supreme Court to declare that state prosecutors violated his rights by seizing his computer that contained privileged emails between him and his attorney.  This interesting saga continues, and the latest story is here.