Strip-Searched Inmates Lose Bid to View E-mails

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Attorney-client privilege prevents prisoners who were strip-searched at the Erie County Jail from viewing e-mails from jail officials, the 2nd Circuit ruled.

     Adam Pritchard and other prisoners involved in a class action against the sheriff of Erie County challenged a policy requiring every prisoner to undergo a strip search.
     The district court ruled that the sheriff and other jail officials had waived attorney-client privilege to more than 10 e-mails, because the advice of counsel was placed in issue.
     Judge Miner ruled that while privileged information may be relevant in a lawsuit, “a party must rely on privileged advice from counsel to make his claim or defense.”
     “This is an objective, not a subjective test,” the judge added, “and reliance upon advice of counsel therefore cannot be used to support the defense of qualified immunity.”
     Miner vacated the order to produce the e-mails and protected the confidentiality of the privileged communications.

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