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People v. Gionis

Supreme Court of California
9 Cal. 4th 1196 (1995)


Thomas Gionis (defendant) was married to Aissa Marie Wayne, the daughter of the late John Wayne. The marriage began to fail shortly after the birth of their daughter. John Lueck was a friend of Gionis. Lueck was an attorney who often referred clients to Gionis, a doctor, for medical evaluations. After Wayne left Gionis, Lueck received a call from Gionis asking him to come to Gionis’s house. Gionis had just been served with divorce papers by Wayne and was very upset. Lueck agreed to meet with Gionis but made clear to him that he would not be willing to represent Gionis as his lawyer because he knew both Gionis and Wayne. When Lueck arrived at Gionis’s home, Gionis showed Lueck legal papers and indicated he would like to change venue to another county due to Wayne’s father’s fame in Orange County. Lueck said it might be appropriate but did not offer to do it. Lueck told Gionis to retain a good lawyer. During the visit, Gionis made comments to Lueck that he could have someone “take care of” Wayne. Some months later, Gionis appeared at Lueck’s office, upset about some legal papers. He said Wayne was trying to interfere with the baby’s baptism. Gionis pleaded with Lueck to help him since the baptism was coming up that weekend and Gionis’s attorney was not available. Lueck went to court but the court said arrangements had already been made. Some months later, Wayne and her boyfriend were attacked. Gionis was prosecuted for hiring the attackers. At trial, the court admitted Gionis’s statements to Lueck about hiring someone to take care of Wayne. Gionis was convicted. Gionis appealed and the Court of Appeal reversed the conviction, finding that the trial court had admitted Lueck’s statements in violation of the attorney-client privilege.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Baxter, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Kennard, J.)

Dissent (Mosk, J.)

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