Swidler & Berlin v. United States
United States Supreme Court
524 U.S. 399 (1998)
In 1993, the Office of Independent Counsel began an investigation into whether there were any improprieties in the firing of several White House travel employees. Vincent Foster, deputy White House counsel, met with James Hamilton, an attorney with Swidler & Berlin (defendant), to seek legal advice with regard to the investigation. Hamilton took three pages of notes at their meeting. One of the first entries in the notes is the word “Privileged”. Nine days after the meeting, Foster committed suicide. A federal grand jury then issued subpoenas to Swidler & Berlin for, inter alia, Hamilton’s notes. Swidler & Berlin filed a motion to quash on the grounds that the notes were protected by the attorney-client privilege. The district court denied enforcement of the subpoenas. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed. It found that there is a posthumous exception to the privilege for attorney-client communications of which the relative importance to criminal litigation is substantial. Swidler & Berlin petitioned for certiorari to the Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)
Dissent (O’Connor, 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 174,000 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.