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Here is the situation:

A 'Person of Interest' is inside his Lawyers office, talking to his Lawyer about a certain crime.

 

The police enter the premise (which is open to the public and entrance does not require a search warrant).

 

Upon entering the Lawyers office area, they hear something about the crime which could convict the 'Person of Interest'.

 

The conversation between the lawyer and client are suppose to be kept confidential.   Yet, the police hear some valuable information.  

And, the police have no search warrant.

 

QUESTION:  can that information the police overheard between the Lawyer and Client be used in court to convict the client?

 

..........Widder

 

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There's a lot of if's in that scenario.  Assuming that the officers were not acting sneaky in an attempt to overhear the conversation and just happened to learn something from legally being there and just paying attention, then I think it would be admissible.  However, expect a really big argument from the defense attorney.  Attorney client privilege protects the communications between a client and attorney.  The attorney cannot be compelled to testify and his records cannot normally be searched.   It would all come down to how the information was learned/overheard by the police and a reasonable expectation of privacy on the part of the attorney and client.  

 

Another twist to this is, if the officers were able to discover additional evidence or crimes based on this information and the information was ruled inadmissible, then all evidence developed from this information is also inadmissible.  Fruits of the poisonous tree.

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While I am certainly not a lawyer (as people could probably guess from reading my legal questions), I believe it would go something like this.

 

The cop would get up on the stand and say that he heard Hardpan confess to stealing beer with his fraternity brothers. Then under cross examination, J. Mark (Hardpan's mouthpiece) would ask exactly where he was when he heard that confession. The cop would say that he was standing in Mark's office, and he heard Hardpan tell Mark this.

 

Then lawyer J. Mark Flint (I wonder if he's related to lawyer J. Noble Daggett?) would tell the judge that the officer had been listening in on a privileged lawyer/client conversation, and that therefore his testimony should be stricken. The judge would agree, tell the clerk that the testimony will be stricken from the record, then tell the jury to forget everything they just heard.

 

The jury of course could not forget what they had just heard, and they would convict Hardpan and his fraternity brothers of stealing the beer.

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What if the officer used that info to go find the empty beer cans in the alley behind the frat house and then found all sorts of other evidence.  Like fingerprints and urine samples?  Is that still fruit of the poisoned tree?  The beer cans could have been found even without that information. 

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6 minutes ago, Ramblin Gambler said:

What if the officer used that info to go find the empty beer cans in the alley behind the frat house and then found all sorts of other evidence.  Like fingerprints and urine samples?  Is that still fruit of the poisoned tree?  The beer cans could have been found even without that information. 

It would probably be considered "fruit of the poisoned tree".  The officer would have to explain WHY he decided to look for the beer cans so without overhearing that conversation it would be unlikely that the officer would have known to go look for the beer cans. 

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Finding beer cans behind the frat house could be eminent discovery and ruled admissible.  However, if the police use the stolen beer information to get a search warrant and go search the frat house and happen to find a giant Meth lab in the basement and a million dollars in cash stuffed in the dead body of a Senator's son...  If that initial information obtained from overhearing the conversation in J Mark's office is ruled privileged, then all of the stuff found as a result is inadmissible. 

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Real situation;

I was looking for a new home to buy. One house looked interesting and upon going into the basement there was a closed door that seemed strange. Me and the agent opened the door and behold 50 marijuana plants. I look at the agent who knows I am a cop and smile. Long story short guy ended up arrested. And yes it was the house I was looking for and purchased it. No trial, guy plead guilty to lesser charge because he provided a lot of good info.

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Office doors frequently have the word "PRIVATE" on the door.  This separates them from the "public" areas of the facility (reception, restrooms, hallways, etc.).  It does not mean nefarious things go on inside.  "Expectation of privacy", I believe, would be the key to a legal evaluation of the usefulness of the information obtained.

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What if the lawyer and client get into a screaming match behind closed doors? They have the expectation of privacy but if a person in the public part of the office or a person walking by the window could hear a confession would that make a difference? It's not like someone had their ear to the door trying to hear a private conversation.

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Let's face it. Tennessee Williams is going to jail unless he cuts a deal and rats the rest of us out. I heard that for a reduced sentence and a couple of 'nanner splits he's going to fold. Why he decided to confess to that no account lawyer is anybody's guess. 

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20 hours ago, Smoken D said:

Real situation;

I was looking for a new home to buy. One house looked interesting and upon going into the basement there was a closed door that seemed strange. Me and the agent opened the door and behold 50 marijuana plants. I look at the agent who knows I am a cop and smile. Long story short guy ended up arrested. And yes it was the house I was looking for and purchased it. No trial, guy plead guilty to lesser charge because he provided a lot of good info.

 

The guy accepted your offer after you turned him in? 

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Like they said in The Godfather. It's not personal. Just business.

 

You turned me into the cops, you low life worthless no count piece of dog sh --- you're willing to pay how much??

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3 hours ago, Ramblin Gambler said:

 

The guy accepted your offer after you turned him in? 

 

As Alpo said, I made him an offer he couldn't refuse. :lol:

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The smart detective would just use the information to confirm that he is on the right trail and continue to pursue admissible evidence.  It would be really stupid to put that information in a report or make it the basis for a search warrant.   Once you know the rules, you can play the game.  Patience, treachery and cunning will win the day.

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Too many unknowns for a definitive answer.

Felony or misdemeanor?

Property or violent crime?

Political climate of the prosecutorial jurisdiction?

:P

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On 3/1/2021 at 9:29 PM, Alpo said:

While I am certainly not a lawyer (as people could probably guess from reading my legal questions), I believe it would go something like this.

 

The cop would get up on the stand and say that he heard Hardpan confess to stealing beer with his fraternity brothers. Then under cross examination, J. Mark (Hardpan's mouthpiece) would ask exactly where he was when he heard that confession. The cop would say that he was standing in Mark's office, and he heard Hardpan tell Mark this.

 

Then lawyer J. Mark Flint (I wonder if he's related to lawyer J. Noble Daggett?) would tell the judge that the officer had been listening in on a privileged lawyer/client conversation, and that therefore his testimony should be stricken. The judge would agree, tell the clerk that the testimony will be stricken from the record, then tell the jury to forget everything they just heard.

 

The jury of course could not forget what they had just heard, and they would convict Hardpan and his fraternity brothers of stealing the beer.

 

I yam SO glad I didn't read this 'til after I finished breakfast ~ snorting coffee hurts, but snorting Cheerios would be MUCH worse.  :lol:

 

Unrelated to the topic, I gotta comment on the "bolded" part:

 

I've had more than my share of horrible bosses during my working life... the next to last boss before I retired was an older, squeaky featherweight bully with a well-deserved reputation for being picky and mean*.  I dubbed him "Lawyer Daggett." or "LD" for short.  It immediately stuck, and soon a bunch of folks both in the office and outside referred to him as "LD."  :wacko:  ^_^

 

*(It didn't help that he bore a very strong physical resemblance to Mr Burns, from The Simpsons.  One day I stuck a picture of Mr Burns in my portfolio; walking down the hallway I'd flash it at people and without a word said they'd shake their heads and burst into laughter.) :rolleyes:

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