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U.S. Supreme Court

ABA Joins Law Firm’s Call for Top Court Review of Grand Jury Power to Get Lawyer-Client Info

Posted Apr 20, 2011 6:05 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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The American Bar Association today filed an amicus brief (PDF) in support of White & Case's request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court. It seeks review of a federal appellate court's rule that grand jury subpoenas trump protective orders even when confidential attorney-client information is sought from a law firm.

Tthere is a better way to address this issue, the ABA argues, than simply requiring a law firm to hand over information when it is requested by a grand jury, as the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals routinely does. However, an additional problem is presented by a three-way circuit split that creates a lack of consistency in the way the issue is addressed throughout the country.

"Because the petition presents the court with an opportunity to establish uniform rules for the federal courts, the ABA urges that it be granted," the brief says of the request for a writ of certiorari filed with the nation's top court by White & Case.

A National Law Journal article provides additional information about the circumstances under which the grand jury sought information in this matter. It involved subpoenas of four major law firms which had access to extensive discovery from foreign client companies involved in civil antitrust litigation.

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