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United States v. Doe

429 F.3d 450 (2005)

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United States v. Doe

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

429 F.3d 450 (2005)

Facts

John Doe (defendant) was a federal law-enforcement officer who was using an informant as part of an investigation. Doe wanted to personally invest in the informant’s business activities, but it was a crime for a federal law-enforcement officer to make that type of personal investment. The potential investment was not part of Doe’s investigation. Doe consulted with an attorney to get advice about how to make the investment, possibly using Doe’s wife’s name to avoid having the investment tied to him and to his job as a law-enforcement officer. Doe then made the investment and received $1000 to $2000 per week from it. The government (plaintiff) began investigating Doe and subpoenaed the attorney to testify before a grand jury. The attorney claimed that the attorney-client privilege prevented him from testifying about his communications with Doe. The government argued that the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege applied to these communications and that the attorney could be required to testify. After conducting a sealed hearing, the district court ruled that the crime-fraud exception did not apply and that the attorney could not be forced to testify about attorney-client communications with Doe. The government appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rosenn, J.)

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