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In re Motion to Quash Bar Counsel Subpoena

982 A.2d 330 (2009)

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In re Motion to Quash Bar Counsel Subpoena

Maine Supreme Judicial Court

982 A.2d 330 (2009)

Facts

The law firm of Verrill Dana LLP (the firm) (plaintiff) hired Gene Libby, the firm’s general counsel, to investigate claims that one of the firm’s partners had stolen client funds. Libby gathered evidence and wrote memos detailing his findings. Libby then resigned from the firm and told the Maine bar that he believed he had unprivileged information to report. However, Libby did not provide specifics because he acknowledged that the firm believed that the information was protected by the attorney-client privilege. The bar’s counsel (defendant) issued a subpoena to Libby to provide the information and supporting documents. The firm moved to quash the subpoena, and the parties agreed to have a justice on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court decide the dispute. The justice reviewed the questioned documents in camera, i.e., in a protected chambers proceeding. The justice found that Libby might have discovered criminal conduct by partners at the firm. The judge then ruled that the crime-fraud exception applied to allow disclosure of the attorney-client communications and denied the motion to quash the subpoena. The firm appealed to a full panel on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Mead, J.)

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