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Ruling on Application of Attorney-Client Privilege to Law Firm Investigation, Plus Civil Rights and Criminal Matters

By FindLaw Staff on March 30, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Brown v. Chicago, No. 08-4265, concerned a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action claiming that an officer used excessive force.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that, because plaintiff had been convicted of aggravated assault, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon based on his encounter with defendant-officer, plaintiff's suit was barred by collateral estoppel.

In US v. Simmons, No. 08-3603, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's bank robbery conviction on the ground that any possible error in admitting gloves and photos related to the robbery was harmless given the defendant's own testimony, and the fact that the government's evidence challenged by defendant merely supported defendant's own theory of the case.

Sandra T.E. v. S. Berwyn Sch. Dist. 100, No. 08-3344, involved a law firm's appeal from the district court's order requiring it to produce documents it created in an internal investigation of a school district.  The court of appeals reversed, holding that 1) factual investigations performed by attorneys as attorneys fell comfortably within the protection of the attorney-client privilege; and 2) the work-product doctrine also protected the materials at issue from disclosure; and 3) to the extent some of the witnesses interviewed by the attorneys were not district employees, this was an independent rather than a duplicate source of protection.

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