Likely the most important (and most commonly invoked) legal privilege is that protecting communications between an attorney and her client from being disclosed to the opposing party. It is the client’s right (called “the attorney/client privilege”) to refuse to disclose any communications he has had with his attorney. If the client raises the attorney/client privilege, the attorney is also not permitted to reveal those communications.
However, as with any rule in litigation, there are exceptions. If the statement was made in the presence of people who are neither the attorney (or working for him) nor the client, or even were later disclosed by the client to such third parties, then the communication will not be protected from disclosure. One can see why; by making the statements in the presence of third parties, one is effectively waiving the privilege and so should not be permitted to invoke it later.
Or, if the client has outright waived it, obviously, the privilege no longer protects those communications.
If the communication was made for the purpose of committing a crime or a wrongdoing in the future, it will also not be protected.
The privilege may also not apply when an attorney is not acting as an attorney, but instead, is acting in a non-legal role. Additionally, the privilege does not apply when it protects the confidential communication, but not the underlying information, as when a client has previously disclosed that same confidential information to a third party who is not an attorney, and then gives the same information to his attorney.
Understanding the attorney-client privilege is important when you find yourself in court. Be sure to ask your attorney questions, if you are concerned about how this privilege might apply to your situation. If you don’t already have an attorney, find one, like those at Open Palm, who are willing to consult with you and prepare you to represent yourself in court. While you will still save money, you will also increase your chances of prevailing at trial!
If you need help appearing in court and representing yourself with grace and with respect, we can help. To see if our services might be right for you, visit us at Open Palm Law or email me at Joryn@OpenPalmLaw.com. We are here for you, and for your family, during the stress of whatever change your family is going through!
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About this week’s author, Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.