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Attorney-Client Privilege

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An attorney for plaintiff was found to have reviewed two of defendant's arguably attorney-client privileged documents without stopping and notifying the defendant when he realized the documents might be privileged.  However, the trial court abused its discretion in disqualifying the plaintiff's law firm as a result.  The trial court failed to say how the two documents could be used to… Read More

Seyfarth was hired to investigate a professor's claim that she was discriminated against by Cal. State University Fullerton.  It performed the investigation and submitted a report to the university administration concluding there was no merit to the professor's claims. After unsuccessfully suing a host of other defendants, the professor sued Seyfarth, claiming the report and investigation were biased, etc.  Seyfarth… Read More

In the 9th Circuit, courts apply the "primary purpose" test to determine whether an attorney-client communication for the dual purpose of tax or business advice and legal advice is attorney-client privileged.  This decision affirms the district court's use of that test rather than the "because of" test used for work product protection (from the totality of the circumstances was the… Read More

Plaintiff's record request under the California Public Records Act (Gov. Code 6250 et seq.) should have been granted.  It sought all emails between county employees and four specified internet domains over a six year period regardless of subject matter.  The County was able to sort its email records and list 42,000 responsive emails.  The County claimed, however, it would be… Read More

When a lawyer's advice is sought for both business purposes (such as tax compliance) and legal advice (advice on tax law), whether the communications are attorney-client privileged or not is tested by the "primary purpose" test--was the primary purpose of the communication legal or business advice?  (The court expressly declines to decide whether legal advice being "a" rather than "the"… Read More

Once the attorney-client privilege has been established, the trial judge or counsel for any party may not comment on the fact that a party or witness has exercised the privilege.  (Evid. Code 913(a).)  Moreover, the trier of fact may not draw any inference from a witness’s invocation of a privilege.  The court must so instruct the jury upon request.  (Ibid.)… Read More