Attorney Client Privilege Prevents Us From Responding To A Bad Internet Review
This story has been modified to protect the confidentiality of the client. Seems like a few years ago, I met with a client, and some of her family. She had just been bailed out of jail by the family; and had been charged with a very serious and embarrassing crime. She was facing 25 years in state prison.
At the initial meeting the client denied the allegations, and wanted to hire us to “fight” this case through a trial, if necessary. I agreed, and immediately assigned one of the best criminal attorneys in my office, and in Los Angeles County, to assist me with the case. The family repeatedly asked me if we would fight this case and not plea bargain the case, without going to trial. I assured all that we would fight the case even if that meant the case would need to go to a jury trial.
As the case progressed, the client decided not to completely follow our advice; talked to a witness about the case; and confessed during that conversation to the crime. Unbeknownst to the client, the conversation was taped by the police authorities!
We were presented with the evidence, and meet with the client to find out what was going on. The client broke down, and admitted that it was her on the tape (actually a cd). The client wanted me to promise that she would only get a sentence of 5 years or less; which I could not do. But the client kept insisting that whatever plea deal she now wanted us to work out for her, not be for more than 5 years. Again, I informed the client I could not promise that result, and in fact that the deal would probably be more like 15. The client would not accept my analysis of the case and the probable 15 year plea deal.
We were still receiving calls from the family regarding the case. The client specifically instructed us NOT to discuss the case with the family, especially the tapped recorded confession.
For reasons, too numerous to discuss here, including luck and our hard work, the client was offered a 6 year deal, which she accepted. Before she was taken into custody I met the client, and the client was extremely upset that I had not kept “my promise” to make sure the deal would be 5 years or less. As stated above, I never promised 5 years, and instead believed it would be more like 15 years. Yet the client, to this day, has continued to criticize me for this and I cannot defend myself because of confidentiality laws. I always wanted to point out to the client, which I did not, if she hadn’t lied to me at the beginning my advice about the case would have been completely different. It’s human nature, clients aren’t always completely honest about a situation, especially when you first meet them. There’s no relationship when you first meet, and you usually don’t gain the client’s trust until later as the case develops and you spend more time with the client.
The family had undauntedly criticized me and my firm for not taking the case to trial when we promised to do so at the beginning of the case when we “stole” the family money to take on the defense of the matriarch. The client has forbade us from ever discussing what actually happened in the case, and from ever mentioning or sharing the tapped recorded confession.
Since we take the attorney client privilege seriously, and will do anything to protect the client’s confidentiality, we will never discuss or reveal the client’s secret. Even where we are criticized and condemned for our legal representation. The public and the internet will never know the truth. But that’s ok, it’s the profession we’ve chosen.
Vincent W. Davis
Law Offices Of Vincent W Davis And Associates