Legal Ethics

As Lawyer Faces Trial in Wiretap Case, Others Advised to Watch PIs

Experts see a lesson for the legal profession in the criminal case against a Los Angeles lawyer accused of paying private investigator Anthony Pellicano to wiretap a client’s ex-wife.

The lawyer, Terry Christensen, is scheduled to go on trial with Pellicano on July 16 on charges of wiretapping and conspiracy to commit wiretapping, the National Law Journal reports. Pellicano has already been found guilty of racketeering, fraud and conspiracy in a different case that targeted his investigation tactics.

The Christensen indictment claims he paid Pellicano more than $100,000 to wiretap Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, the former wife of Christensen’s client, investor Kirk Kerkorian.

Mark Mermelstein, of counsel to the Los Angeles office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, said the case shows the need to supervise investigators. “You can’t just let your investigator go out there and investigate and take the fruits of what he provides and use it,” he told the National Law Journal. “As a lawyer, you really need to be on top of what your investigator is doing, and how your investigator is gathering information, to make sure your investigator is not running afoul of the law.”

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