A Classic Ethical Bind for Lawyers:

CBS reports:

Alton Logan doesn't understand why two lawyers with proof he didn't commit murder were legally prevented from helping him. They had their reasons: To save Logan, they would have had to break the cardinal rule of attorney-client privilege to reveal their own client had committed the crime. But Logan had 26 years in prison to try to understand why he was convicted for a crime he didn't commit....

Lawyers Jamie Kunz and Dale Coventry were public defenders when their client, Andrew Wilson, admitted to them he had shot-gunned a security guard to death in a 1982 robbery. When a tip led to Logan's arrest and he went to trial for the crime, the two lawyers were in a bind. They wanted to help Logan but legally couldn't....

The lawyers did get permission from Wilson, to reveal upon his death his confession to the murder Logan was convicted for. Wilson died late last year and Coventry and Kunz came forward. Next Monday, a judge will hear evidence in a motion to grant Logan a new trial.

I'm not a legal ethics expert, but my understanding is that there is indeed no exception from attorney-client confidentiality in such cases. (If a client tells you that he intends to commit a crime in the future, you may be able to turn him in, but not when he admits that he has committed a crime in the past.) And I can certainly understand the reasons for such a confidentiality rules, whether for lawyers, priests, or psychotherapists. But, boy, they surely do yield a very troubling result in a case such as this one.

Thanks to Paul Milligan for the pointer.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Duty to Save a Wrongly Convicted Person at High Cost?
  2. A Classic Ethical Bind for Lawyers: