We see privilege issues discussed in judicial decisions, legal commentary, and mainstream news. Here is my Monthly Privilege Roundup of interesting privilege issues for June 2017.
- The Idaho Attorney General released an opinion declaring that it is illegal to sell aerial fireworks to the public. The AG’s opinion came at the request of a state legislator, but the AG did not release it citing attorney–client privilege. The legislator released the opinion, and now local law-enforcement authorities must decide how to enforce the “privileged opinion.” Story here.
- Interesting privilege issue bubbling in Utah, where the AG refused to release an opinion on whether Governor Herbert had the authority to set up a special election for an open U.S. House seat. Story here.
- Remember North Carolina’s HB2 bill? The Charlotte Observer now seeks HB2-related emails from state legislators, but they refuse to produce on grounds that the “legislative privilege” protects them. Story here.
- A lawyer and former high-school classmate of eccentric millionaire Robert Hurst, featured in the HBO series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” is trying to escape testifying in a pretrial hearing in Durst’s criminal prosecution over the death of his former girlfriend. The friend claims that the attorney–client privilege protects some of his testimony. Story here.
- Remember the story about prison guards allegedly listening to inmates’ conversations with their attorneys at the Leavenworth Detention Center? A federal judge ordered an investigation into the matter. Now, two inmates have filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that the guards’ actions violated the inmates’ attorney–client privilege and Sixth Amendment rights. You may read the lawsuit here, and the news story here.
- In the criminal-contempt trial of “America’s Sheriff” Joe Arpaio, Arpaio’s former attorney testified about why he withdrew from his representation. He would not go further, however, citing privilege grounds. Story here.
- In the criminal case involving South Carolina state representative Rick Quinn, a judge rejected Quinn’s argument that the prosecutor acted improperly by seizing documents and computers from the office of Richard Quinn & Associates. They claimed the prosecutor did not properly protect against the review of privileged documents. The judge disagreed. Story here.