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United States v. Norris - An Attack on the Attorney-Client Privilege?
By Joseph D. Mancano; J. Peter Shindel Jr.
Executives beware. That is the message delivered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently with respect to communications between corporate officers or employees and outside corporate counsel. In rejecting the appeal of Ian P. Norris, former CEO of Morgan Crucible Company plc (Morgan), from his conviction for conspiracy to violate federal witness-tampering laws, the court of appeals summarily rejected Norris’s attorney-client privilege argument. Rather than relying on evidence suggesting that Morgan’s outside counsel individually represented the company’s employees, including Norris, the Third Circuit instead held that the restrictive five-factor test derived from Matter of Bevill, Bresler & Schulman Asset Mgmt. Corp.1 must be satisfied before the attorney-client privilege may be successfully asserted by corporate officers and employees and a company’s outside attorneys. The decision marks a drastic expansion of Bevill, and carries profound implications for individual
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