32 Ex-US Attorneys Ask Senate to Bolster Corporate Attorney-Client Privilege

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Adding, for the first time, insider Justice Department protests to a growing weight of concern about the McNulty memo, a bipartisan group of 32 former U.S. attorneys has sent a letter asking the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote for a bill that would shore up attorney-client protections for corporations.

At present, prosecutors can—and do—exert pressure on corporations to “cooperate” with federal investigations, which may require waiver of attorney-client privilege not only for the corporations themselves but for their officers and employees, reports Legal Times.

“The widespread practice of requiring waiver has led to the erosion not only of the privilege itself, but also to the constitutional rights of the employees who are caught up, often tangentially, in business investigations,” the letter says.

The prosecutors wrote Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who chairs the Senate Judiciary committee, to urge him to move the Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act of 2007 for a full Senate vote before July, when Congress goes on summer break, reports the New York Times. The Times notes that he bill, sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has broad bipartisan support, as did its cousin in the House, and could force the government to find new ways to combat corporate fraud.

The bill would make it illegal for prosecutors and enforcement officials at other federal agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, to require privilege waiver.

The McNulty memo was written by Paul McNulty, a former deputy attorney general.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Prosecutors Feel Pressure in Wake of KPMG Ruling”

ABAJournal.com: “Now on the Defense Side, McNulty Still Likes His Memo”

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