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In re Von Bulow

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
828 F.2d 94 (2d Cir. 1987)


Claus von Bulow (defendant) was charged with two counts of assault with attempt to murder his wife, Martha. The trial court convicted him, but the court of appeals reversed and acquitted him. Subsequently, Martha’s children from a previous marriage (plaintiffs) brought a civil suit against von Bulow for assault, negligence, fraud, and RICO violations. While the civil suit was pending, von Bulow’s appellate attorney published a book about the criminal case. Von Bulow helped with the book and even encouraged its release. The book contained excerpts of conversations between von Bulow and his attorney, but not the entire conversations. The plaintiffs filed a motion to compel disclosure of certain communications between von Bulow and his attorney on the grounds that the book constituted a waiver of von Bulow’s attorney-client privilege. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (District Court) found that von Bulow’s attorney-client privilege had been waived and that the plaintiffs were entitled to discover (1) “the entire contents of all conversation from which [the attorney] published extracts in [the book],” (2) all subject matter areas related to the conversations, and (3) related conversations with other defense attorneys. Von Bulow sought a writ of mandamus requiring the District Court to vacate its order.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Cardamone, J.)

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