Did Lindsay Lohan Attorney Breach Confidentiality?
Brett EmisonJuly 12, 2010 6:04 PM
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Ok. Here is something I didn't plan on writing about when I woke up this morning... a blog post about Lindsay Lohan with People Magazine as my source!
Here's why Lindsay Lohan made this blog: One of her criminal defense attorneys may have violated confidentiality rules in speaking to the press about his meeting with Lindsay and her camp.
Attorneys are governed strict ethical rules contained within the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 1.6 governs confidentiality of information and states:
(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).
According to People, this criminal defense lawyer met with Lohan, her mother Dina and younger sister Ali for at least six hours. During the meeting, which occurred at Lohan's apartment, the lawyer outlined his requirements for representing Lohan, but ultimately declined to take Lohan's case.
Now, this lawyer has given interviews to news media, including the following information from his attorney-client meeting with Lohan:
- "My impression of Lindsay is that she's a fragile lost child...."
- "I'm concerned that [Lohan's] not disciplined enough to the reality of adult consequences."
- "... they didn't seem to understand the urgency and gravity of the situation."
- Lohan took notes during their six hour meeting.
An attorney-client relationship can be established even though the attorney is not ultimately retained. Bennet Silvershein Associates v. Furman, 776 F.Supp. 800, 803 (S.D.N.Y. 1991). The attorney-client relationship is established when the client believes that she is consulting a lawyer in his professional capacity and manifests her intention to seek professional legal advice. Griffen by Freeland v. East Prairie Missouri Reorganized School District No. 2, 945 F.Supp. 1251 (E.D. Mo. 1996). An attorney-client relationship is not dependent on a formal contract or payment of fees.
The attorney-client privilege must be protected by the attorney and held inviolate. In other words, an attorney is ethically bound to keep confidential the information disclosed in conversations with his client.
Why then was this attorney divulging confidential information to People magazine? Perhaps, he concluded that since others (Lohan's mother and sister) were present, the attorney-client privilege did not attach. Privileges can be waived when the disclosure is knowingly made with third-parties present, even if the client is communicating to her lawyer.
Regardless, unless Lohan gave her explicit (written) permission for this attorney to discuss their meeting in the press, this information should have remained confidential.
Read more: Confidential Means Confidential, Even In Lindsay Lohan Case (Stuart Goldbert, Esq. -- Fail) [by Eric Turkewitz at New York Personal Injury Law Blog]