Revoking the Attorney-Client Privilege: Lynne Stewart Case
Lynne Stewart is a guinea pig--a chance for the Bush administration to see how far it can push its evisceration of the Bill of Rights. The attack on attorney representation is only one of a staggering number of its post-9/11 assaults on the Constitution, but it's one of the most important. Invariably, the least sympathetic among us--the accused terrorists and the radical lawyers--are the first to lose basic rights. The rest of us follow.Ashcroft is dictating that the Government can pry into the attorney-client privilege all it wants. While this is bad for lawyers, it's worse for clients. First comes the inch-- Lynne Stewart, then comes the mile--the rest of us.
On October 31, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft issued an emergency regulation, 66 Fed. Reg. 55062, allowing the monitoring of attorney-client conversations when the Attorney General has "reasonable suspicion" to "believe that a particular inmate may use communications with attorneys or their agents to further or facilitate acts of violence or terrorism." The order recognizes that these communications would "traditionally be covered by the attorney-client privilege." 28 C.F.R. § 501.3(d).
Here are the reasons why defense lawyers and others consider this regulation to be unconstitutional and ethically improper.
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