Every once in a while, there’s a news story that grabs me. And when it touches upon the very issue that’s at center of SILENT COUNSEL—attorney/client confidentiality—it’s of particular interest.
This past Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a segment about a 26-year secret that kept an innocent man in prison—because two lawyers who knew that his claim of innocence was true considered themselves legally bound to remain silent. They knew that the convicted man, Alton Logan, was innocent because their client, Andrew Wilson, had confessed to them—in confidence—over a quarter century ago. But according to them they were not free to reveal what they knew until the recent death of their client. Because the confession was privileged information.
Yesterday (March 10) a Chicago judge was due to hear arguments about whether to grant Logan a new trial.
Those of you familiar with SILENT COUNSEL know that it deals with this issue of attorney/client confidentiality in the context of a lawyer bound to protect the identity of a hit-and-run driver responsible for the death of a young boy. This real life case—which came to the public's attention six months after the publication of SILENT COUNSEL—shows that the relationship between fiction and fact can be pretty scary at times…
I'm an attorney, and I recognize the important place that the doctrine of privileged information has in our justice system--but I don't envy these two attorneys who found themselves in this situation. And I'd like to think I'd do the right thing.
If you missed 60 Minutes, here it is. (If for some reason you can't view the video below, it's on my website here
I'd love to hear your comments after you've seen it.