PROTECTING ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE PARAMOUNT TO U.S. LEGAL SYSTEM
Congressman Peter J. Roskam (R-IL) yesterday partnered in introducing legislation which amends the federal criminal code to restore protections for attorney-client privileges.
"Attorney-client privilege has been a fundamental principle of common law since the founding of our nation," said Roskam. "In recent years such protections have eroded due to policy set forth by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Under current law, companies may be pressured to relinquish their privileges due to fear of seeming uncooperative in federal investigations."
The Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act of 2007 would prohibit government lawyers from forcing organizations to disclose information protected by the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine. The bill removes DOJ incentives to pressure corporations under investigation to expose employees to investigators in exchange for "cooperation points," lessening exposure for corporations. Further, the bill allows organizations to contribute to the legal defense of an employee, to enter into a joint defense strategy with an employee, to share relevant information with an employee, and to resist pressure from federal lawyers to terminate an employee.
"We commend Congressman Roskam for his leadership in protecting one of the most fundamental principles of our justice system," said Victor P. Henderson, President of The Chicago Bar Association. "The Justice Department's current practice of requesting corporations under DOJ investigation to waive their attorney-client privilege and similar protections in return for cooperation credit' is misguided. This policy improperly and unnecessarily hinders the ability of lawyers to do their job and ultimately makes it harder for these companies to voluntarily comply with the law. The Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act of 2007 ends this ill-advised policy and restores the proper balance to our justice system. We commend Congressman Roskam for his leadership on this issue and urge the full Congress to approve this critical legislation."
"Companies should not be forced to punish employees before any guilt has been shown. We must strike the proper balance between effective law enforcement and the preservation of the attorney-client relationship," continued Roskam. "This important legislation will help restore those protections and I am a proud to be an original cosponsor."