Searching lawyers

We have had a number of military cases of the years involving searches of lawyer “files” or other materials.

Here is an interesting opinion from the Fourth Circuit about “taint teams.” The Fourth is not generally known as a defense friendly court.

4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion 31 October 2019

In re: Search Warrant [U.S.A. v. ‘Under Seal’] No. 19-1730.P The appellant in these proceedings is a Baltimore law firm (the “Law Firm”) that challenges the government’s use of a so -called “Filter Team”-—created ex parte by a magistrate judge in the District of MD & comprised of federal agents & prosecutors-—to inspect privileged attorney-client materials … The Law Firm requested that the district court enjoin the Filter Team’s review of the seized materials, invoking the attorney-client privilege & the work-product doctrine. When the court denied its request, the Law Firm pursued this appeal.

As explained below, we are satisfied that use of the Filter Team is improper for several reasons, including that, inter alia, the Team’s creation inappropriately assigned judicial functions to the executive branch, the Team was approved in ex parte proceedings prior to the search & seizures, & the use of the Team contravenes foundational principles that protect attorney-client relationships. We therefore reverse & remand.

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