Judge Allows Police Raid Of Defense Attorney’s Office
A Texas judge was apparently not too concerned with the legal concept of attorney-client privilege when he allowed for a police raid on a defense attorney‘s office.
Collin County District Judge Mark Rusch was presiding over a capital murder trial when he signed a search warrant for police to raid the criminal defense lawyer’s office and then allegedly handled the evidence found in the raid, according to the local television station KXAS, part of the NBC Local Media organization.
Although he was later recused from the case by a presiding judge at the request of the defense, the fact that such an event even occurred is alarming.
A client and an attorney are provided (at different levels in most states) attorney-client privilege, which protects communications between a client and defense lawyer—or any lawyer—for the purpose of the client being able to receive professional legal advice.
The Case & Implications of the Judge’s Actions
The defense attorney, Keith Gore, represents Mark Bell, who’s on trial for a 2007 shooting murder. The allegations include that the victim’s estranged wife hired Bell to kill her husband.
The Collin County District Attorney’s office submitted the search warrant to Judge Rusch after staffers learned the defense attorney might have received evidence from his client’s wife, which included shoes he allegedly wore when the murder took place and letters that detailed escape and suicide plans.
The defense charges that after the raid police officers brought some of the seized materials, including a seal box, to Judge Rusch’s home,.
The defense further claims that, should the police involved be called to testify, they would say they saw Judge Rusch open the sealed box with a knife, making the judge not only biased in the case but also a witness. Rusch may now be subpoenaed as a witness in the trial, according to the news report.
Collin County Assistant District Attorney Bill Dobiyanski sent a letter to the presiding judge and denied the defense’s charges, saying Rusch was “at no time” alone with any of the seized materials. He also said that Rusch doesn’t meet the legal definition of a material witness, reports KXAS.
The discrepancies will most likely be challenged in court by the defense. Stay tuned to Total Lawyers for developing news on this story.