Attorney-Client Privilege: Everyday Rules From a High-Profile Case

As any attorney will tell you, disputes over the application and scope of the attorney-client privilege arise often in everyday lawsuits that are of interest only to the parties involved. But they also apparently arise in high-profile cases involving celebrity defendants.

The case of Constand v. Cosby is a perfect example. In this case involving comedian Bill Cosby, Judge Eduardo Robreno of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was called on to apply the attorney-client privilege in a tawdry case where the plaintiff accused Cosby of sexual assault and defamation. Robreno's resolutions of the parties' disputes over attorney-client privilege provide guidelines that are equally applicable in cases with less notoriety, but with no less importance to the participants.

In the Cosby case, the disputes over the attorney-client privilege percolated during the depositions of Cosby and Andrea Constand, his accuser. Specifically, Cosby refused to answer questions related to negotiations that one of his attorneys had with The National Enquirer. Likewise, Constand refused to answer questions about initial inquiries she had with lawyers whom she ultimately decided not to retain. The principles that Robreno applied to each participant's situation are skillful examples of resolving the parties' disputes over the attorney-client privilege.

Details here from Kevin P. Allen, special to