Monthly Privilege Roundup: Aaron Hernandez, a Christmas Party Memo, and Privileged Pillow Talk?

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

  • The Camarillo Acorn, a newspaper, filed a public-records request seeking old voicemails between the Camarillo Health Care District’s former CEO, Jane Rozanski, and CHCD’s attorney, Ralph Ferguson.  Allegations abound that Rozanski was dating Ferguson and helped him overbill CHCD by $425K.  A court stopped the production after Rozanski asserted the attorney-client privilege.  The Acorn responded in this editorial claiming it was interested in the truth, not privileged pillow talk.

  • Aaron Hernandez, the convicted murderer and former New England Patriot, apparently believes that someone hacked his privileged conversations while he was in jail awaiting his murder trial.  And now on trial for a second murder, he seeks to exclude a cellphone from evidence because authorities allegedly “pierced the attorney-client privilege” between Hernandez and one of his former attorneys.  Story here.
  • In the case charging Officer Jason Van Dyke with the murder of teen Laquan McDonald, a Chicago city attorney filed a motion  seeking to preclude dissemination of 240,000 emails obtained from the Chicago P.D. and the Independent Police Review Authority.  The trial judge grilled the attorney, however, insinuating that the motion was inconsistent with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new “transparency policy.” Story here.
  • South Jacksonville (Ill.) officials released a memorandum regarding options for paying for the town’s Christmas party.  Government officials admitted that the memorandum was repeatedly marked as “attorney-client privilege,” but produced it anyway and said it could re-assert the privilege later.  Unless Santa brought the city a selective-waiver doctrine, I doubt it.  Story here.
  • The new Forsyth County (Ga.) courthouse has a privilege problem–the walls in its attorney-client rooms are not soundproof and these privileged discussions are effectively open to the public.  So, avoid being arrested in Forsyth County this holiday season.  Story here.