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Attorney-client privilege ain’t all it’s cracked up to be

shush.jpgWell this is a really depressing story. Alton Long has been sitting in jail since 1982 for killing a McDonald’s security guard. He’s claimed innocence the whole time and now two lawyers have come forth to say that their former client admitted way back in ‘82 that he was, in fact, the murderer. But thanks to the attorney-client privilege, they couldn’t speak out about it without his consent. They did get him to agree that they could speak about it after his death and so, now that he’s died, they’re out telling their story.

It’s a real catch-22 these two lawyers were in — ethically, they were bound to keep silent. But what about morally? Hell of a pickle, and while non-lawyers might say these guys are scumbags for not speaking up, it’s really not that simple (as they say, if they had spoken up without their client’s permission, they almost surely wouldn’t have been able to testify in court anyway). The attorney-client privilege is an important and necessary thing, but it ain’t always easy.

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Comments

I saw that story on 60 minutes. I don't think they did a really good job explaining what the problem was, that even if they had said anything it wouldn't have done any good. It was mostly the interviewer trying to make them look scummy with the lawyers saying no "its complicated" and the family crying.

I'm a science student, and i know very little about law, but i would say that i would assume that it would be standard for them not to say anything. I guess i'd always assumed that this kind of thing happens all the time.