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In re Investigation of the Death of Miller
North Carolina Supreme Court
584 S.E.2d 772 (2003)
Eric Miller went bowling with his wife’s co-workers, drank a beer served by Derril Willard, and died of arsenic poisoning. An investigation revealed that Miller’s wife and Willard were in a relationship. After Miller died, Willard consulted attorney Richard Gammon (defendant), declined to speak with law enforcement, and committed suicide. The state (plaintiff) requested that the court apply a balancing test to determine whether Willard’s communications with Gammon should be compelled in the interest of justice. Concluding that the public’s interest in determining who was responsible for Miller’s death outweighed the public interest in protecting the attorney-client privilege, the court ordered Gammon to submit for in camera review an affidavit containing any information regarding Miller’s murder obtained from Willard. Gammon appealed. The parties jointly petitioned the supreme court for discretionary review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lake, C.J.)
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