Legislation & Lobbying

House Approves Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act

The Attorney-Client Protection Act was adopted in the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote today, but it may not be addressed by the Senate until the spring.

Supported by an unusually broad-based coalition of organizations that includes the American Bar Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the bill would prohibit federal prosecutors from pressuring corporations into waiving attorney-client privilege under threat of indictment, notes a Dow Jones Newswires article and the Newport News, Va., Daily Press. As discussed by former ABA President Michael Greco in an ABA Journal article last year, the ABA opposes such attacks on attorney-client privilege.

ABA President William Neukom released a statement (PDF) this afternoon in support of the bill. “The legislation strikes the proper balance between the legitimate needs of federal prosecutors and regulators and the constitutional and fundamental legal rights of individuals and organizations.” The bill was cosponsored by 12 house members from both parties.

“Preserving the right to counsel allows all Americans the opportunity to protect themselves and others,” says Caroline Frederickson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union legislative office in Washington, D.C. “Americans under investigation should not be intimidated into waiving their rights, as has been the practice during certain Justice Department investigations.”

Updated 11/14/2007 at 4:58 p.m. CST

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