Brief Fact Summary. Defendant is a non-lawyer accountant who worked for a law firm whose client was being investigated for income tax violations. He was sentenced for contempt for failing to answer a question claiming the attorney-client privileged applied to him.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The attorney-client privilege applies to communications made in confidence while obtaining legal advice from a lawyer.
Held. Justice Friendly issued the opinion for the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals in holding that the attorney-client privilege may apply to Defendant depending on whether the communications were for seeking legal advice or accounting advice.
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Discussion. The Court of Appeals notes that each instance of deciding whether or not the attorney-client privilege applies to non-lawyers should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If what is sought from the non-lawyer is not legal, then the privilege should not apply. The communication should be for the purpose of obtaining legal advice from a lawyer.