Whatever the answer, the revelation of an FBI raid on Trump’s attorney’s office caused me to revisit this important rule of evidence. In Massachusetts, “a client has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent others from disclosing, confidential communications made for the purpose of obtaining or providing professional legal services”. Who May Claim the Privilege? The client, the attorney or their representatives.
So, how could FBI investigators seize privileged communications between Donald Trump and his lawyer, such as emails, texts or faxes? There are exceptions to the privilege rules.
Namely, “if the services of the attorney were sought or obtained to commit or to plan to commit what the client knew or reasonably should have known was a crime or fraud”. Using this exception to the privilege rules, FBI investigators felt empowered to seize attorney-client communications. A court will soon decide the challenge of whether the discovered information falls under the “crime-fraud exception”.
So, is Attorney-client privilege is dead? Not apparently. Just remember there has always been a limit to the protection of your attorney-client communication.
Attorney James Haroutunian practices real-estate law, estate planning and probate at 630 Boston Road, Billerica. He gladly invites questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-671-0711. His website blog is found at www.hlawoffice.com. This column is published for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.