Client Confidentiality

Date: August 26, 2009
Posted In: DLP Law

There had been a slew of gruesome murders dating back ten years. The police finally thought they caught their man when they arrested Bad Bart after accumulating overwhelming circumstantial evidence. Unfortunately, the police had nothing concrete to link Bart to the murders that took place in the past, although there were some similarities in the evidence.

Bart hired the famous criminal attorney, Attorney Backstabber, to represent him. When the attorney interviewed Bart, Bart candidly acknowledged that he had committed seven of the prior murders but steadfastly denied that he had committed the most recent one for which he was charged.

Issue: Does Attorney Backstabber have an obligation to notify the authorities of the confession made by Bad Bart of the prior murders.

Answer: The information that Bad Bart gave to his attorney is considered confidential and covered by the attorney/client privilege. In actuality, Attorney Backstabber would be violating that confidentiality privilege by going to the authorities concerning the prior murders. Had Bad Bart advised his attorney that he was going to kill in the future with any specificity, then the attorney would have the obligation to warn the authorities.

Only the client may assert the privilege because its only purpose is to safeguard and promote full, uninhibited discourse between the client and the attorney.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.