Law360: Lawmakers Push To Extend Atty-Client Shield To Prison Emails

Law360: Lawmakers Push To Extend Atty-Client Shield To Prison Emails by RJ Vogt:

But last week, a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives proposed to protect attorney-client emails from being monitored at all, let alone used in cases… The latest bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., would require the BOP to ‘exclude from monitoring’ the emails sent between attorneys and clients. Called the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act, it has support from the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and numerous other proponents of justice reform…The DOJ did not respond to requests for comment on the measure, but Jumana Musa, Director of the NACDL’s Fourth Amendment Center, told Law360 it would drastically increase access to counsel for people in prison. Other communication methods, she noted, have major shortcomings. Written mail comes with one- to two-week lag periods, and in-person meetings can be logistically and financially infeasible. Visiting federal facilities requires attorneys to spend hours traveling and hours more waiting on a client to come down from the cells. All that time is billable to either the defendant or, in cases involving public defenders, American taxpayers. Lawyers and their incarcerated clients can alternatively set up unmonitored phone calls to discuss privileged information. But Musa said scheduling such calls can be arduous in its own right — inmates must write letters to wardens, wardens must agree, schedules must line up, and in the end, calls are typically capped at 15 minutes.

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