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People v. Belge

372 N.Y.S.2d 798 (Sup. Ct. Onondga Cty 1975)

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People v. Belge

Onondaga County Court

372 N.Y.S.2d 798 (Sup. Ct. Onondga Cty 1975)

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Facts

Francis Belge (defendant) was assigned to represent Robert Garrow, who was accused of murdering Philip Domblewski in the Adirondack Mountains. Belge planned to have Garrow assert the insanity defense. Authorities suspected Garrow was involved in various other missing person cases in the area. Garrow killed those other missing persons and told Belge where he left the bodies. Not totally believing Garrow, Belge went to the sites and found the bodies himself, confirming Garrow’s statements. Belge suggested to the prosecutor that he had information about the other missing persons and that he could provide such information if the prosecutor offered a plea bargain accepting the insanity defense. The prosecutor rejected this offer and threatened to bring obstruction of justice and withholding evidence charges against Belge. At trial for the Domblewski murder, Garrow testified and confessed to the Domblewski murder and the other murders. He was convicted. After the trial, Belge admitted publicly that he had known of the other bodies but could not reveal the information due to the attorney-client privilege. The prosecutor chose to not charge Belge with obstruction of justice, but charged him with violating a New York law that required individuals to inform police if they knew that a person had died without receiving medical attention. Belge filed a motion to dismiss based on the attorney-client privilege.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gale, J.)

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