Swidler & Berlin V. United States
524 U.S 399, 118 S. Ct. 2081, 141 L. Ed. 2d 379 (1998)
A writ of certiorari to the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was sought by a petition attorney. The writ was used to reverse the judgment made by the lower court which held notes from an interview with his client who later committed suicide were not protected by neither work product privilege nor attorney client privilege.
A Deputy White House Counsel, named Vincent W. Foster Jr., met with an attorney named James Hamilton who worked at the law firm of Swidler & Berlin to seek legal advice inquiring about the dismissal of White House Travel Office employees in 1993. During the meeting, Hamilton took several pages of written notes. Nine days later Foster committed suicide. Later, subpoenas were issued to Petitioner’s asking for Hamilton’s written notes. A motion was filed to quash arguing that the notes were attorney work product and therefore privileged under the work product and attorney-client privileges. The Petitioner’s motion to quash was granted by the District Court but later overruled by the Court of Appeals because it was said that attorney-client privilege should not necessarily apply the death of the client. On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court reversed, and it was held that the notes were protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Does the attorney-client privilege still apply to the meeting held by Foster with Hamilton, even though Foster was deceased when the subpoena was issued?
Yes, the attorney-client privilege has still been applied after the death of the client even though the information given during that time is connected with a criminal investigation.
Attorney-client privilege protects the notes with the client and may not be subpoenaed because the great body of case law supports the decision that the attorney-client privilege follows the death of the client and...