Purcell v. District Attorney
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
424 Mass. 109 (1997)
In June 1994, Joseph Tyree received a court order to vacate his apartment, which was located in the complex where he worked as a maintenance man. Tyree consulted with Jeffrey Purcell (plaintiff), an attorney who represented low-income individuals, about the order to vacate. During the meeting, Tyree expressed to Purcell that he may burn down the apartment building. After giving it thought, Purcell advised the police of Tyree’s threat, as permitted by the disciplinary code. Police officers evicted Tyree the next day and searched his apartment, where they found materials to start a fire. Tyree was arrested and charged with attempted arson. At trial, the district attorney (defendant) subpoenaed Purcell to testify about the conversation between Tyree and Purcell. Purcell moved to quash the subpoena, and the trial court granted the motion. The trial ended in a mistrial, because the jury could not reach a verdict. The state tried Tyree a second time and again sought Purcell’s testimony. In the second trial, the judge found that Tyree’s statements to Purcell were not protected by the attorney-client privilege and ordered Purcell to testify. Purcell filed a motion to quash the subpoena, and the trial court denied the motion to quash. Purcell appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wilkins, C.J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 176,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.