Ex-Judge Who Wrote Privilege Opinion Backs PD Who Told of Client Confession
Posted Nov 28, 2007 8:11 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The former chief judge of the North Carolina Supreme Court hopes an opinion he wrote on attorney-client privilege will help his new client—a North Carolina man convicted of murder partly based on now-discredited evidence.
Former chief judge I. Beverly Lake Jr. is one of the lawyers representing Lee Wayne Hunt, the Washington Post reports. Hunt is serving a life sentence based in part on now-discredited bullet lead analysis matching crime scene bullet fragments to a box of ammunition owned by co-defendant Jerry Cashwell.
Cashwell’s lawyer, North Carolina appellate defender Staples Hughes, came forward after his client committed suicide in prison to testify that Cashwell had admitted 20 years ago that he alone committed the murder. The trial judge refused to admit the testimony on Hunt's behalf and referred Hughes to disciplinary authorities for violating client confidences.
Lake and two other lawyers for Hunt filed papers yesterday asking the North Carolina Supreme Court to hear the case.
Lake, who retired from the state supreme court in December, wrote an opinion that said a defense lawyer can be forced to reveal a dead client’s secrets to prosecutors.
"It makes no sense that a lawyer can be required to divulge information from a dead client to the state but then not be allowed to do the same if it helps a defendant," he told the Post.