News Release

Comments in opposition to Ashcroft order outline violations of First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments

NACDL opposes BOP attorney/client regulations 

Washington, DC (2001, exact date unknown) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers today filed comments in opposition to Attorney General John Ashcroft's order allowing monitoring of attorney-client communications in the Bureau of Prisons without court supervision.

The order is "unnecessary, serves no sound investigative function, and seriously undermines the ethical rules that define the obligations of attorneys to courts, the profession, clients, and justice," according to the comments. The comments detail conflicts with the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments raised by the regulations.

NACDL President Irwin Schwartz pointed out that attorneys can end up in court as witnesses against their own clients if they confer knowing a third party is listening. "Lawyers can be forced to testify in civil, grand jury, or criminal proceedings, because to knowingly communicate with a client while a third party listens is a complete waiver of attorney client privilege," said Schwartz.

Professor Ellen Podgor of the Georgia State University College of Law was the primary author of NACDL's comments. "The Attorney General's order, if implemented, will deprive U.S. citizens of basic constitutional rights to confidentially talk to their lawyers," said Podgor.

The comments point out that no reason has been given for lack of judicial review of monitoring decisions, nor for lack of Congressional oversight in formation of the regulations.

Schwartz is a criminal defense lawyer in Seattle. He can be reached at (206) 623-5084 (office).

Podgor can be reached at (404) 915-0800.

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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.