Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In re: Grand Jury Investigation [Rowland] case brief

In re: Grand Jury Investigation [Rowland] case brief summary
399 F.3d 527 (2d Cir. 2005)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellants, Office of the Governor of Connecticut and the former governor of Connecticut, challenged an order of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, compelling the former chief legal counsel to the Office of the Governor to comply with a grand jury subpoena and testify about the contents of confidential conversations she had with the former governor and members of his staff.

CASE FACTS
In the course of investigating whether the governor and members of his staff had received gifts from private individuals and entities in return for public favors, including the favorable negotiation and awarding of state contracts, a federal grand jury subpoenaed the testimony of the former chief legal counsel to the Office of the Governor. The chief legal counsel refused to testify as to conversations she had with the former governor and his staff, contending that they were confidential and conducted for the purpose of providing legal advice, and therefore were protected by the attorney-client privilege.

DISCUSSION

  • The court agreed and reversed the district court's order compelling her to testify. 
  • The court held that the traditional rationale for the privilege applied with special force in the government context because it was crucial that government officials, who were expected to uphold and execute the law and who could face criminal prosecution for failing to do so, be encouraged to seek out and receive fully informed legal advice.

CONCLUSION
The order compelling the former chief legal counsel to the Office of the Governor to comply with a grand jury subpoena and testify about the contents of confidential conversations she had with the former governor and members of his staff was reversed.

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