BONGO BOARDS, JERKS AND CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS...A SHORT STORY (first published Sept. of 2010) 
Monday, December 10, 2018, 07:37 PM
Posted by Administrator

One day many years ago, I wrote a letter to my client and FAXed it over to him. But, in FAXing it over to him I sort of used the FAX number for the other lawyer. So, I FAXed the letter I meant to go to my client to the lawyer on the other side of the case.

The second sentence of the letter said "I don't want to jerk Craig ___________ around." Craig ____________ was the other lawyer.

A few minutes after the FAX went out, a call came in. It was Craig ______________. I got on the phone. Craig said "What do you mean calling me a jerk in the letter you wrote to your client?"

I said, "Number one, I didn't call you a jerk...I told my client that we shouldn't jerk you around. Number two, what are you doing reading my confidential letter to my client?" The letter didn't become un-confidential just because I had used the wrong FAX number. ...and you would figure a lawyer...if nobody else...would know that...

Lawyers communications with their clients are confidential. The jail isn't supposed to record what you say to your criminal-defendant-client. When the lawyer on the other side questions your client at a deposition and asks a question that might seem directed to finding out what you and he talked about, he/she will say (usually) "But don't tell me what you and your lawyer talked about." It is the courteous thing to do.

Your lawyer can't be called into court to testify about what you told him/her. In the Federal system, if you've...for instance...got tax evasion problems, your lawyer will hire an accountant for you so the accountant is part of the legal team and the lawyer-client priviledge attaches to what you say and do with the accountant. (There is a Florida accountant-client priviledge but there is no Federal priviledge.)

Still, before spilling your guts to your lawyer, you may want to update your complete knowledge of the lawyer-client priviledge. (I've written about the priviledge in earlier blog entries and I have covered some of the pitfalls).

What made me think of this? I just got done writing an email to another lawyer and...at the top...I wrote: "THIS IS A CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATION FROM A LAW FIRM. IF YOU ARE NOT THE INTENDED RECIPIENT, DELETE IT...DON'T READ IT. THIS MEANS YOU!!"
Since I have been using email a lot, lately, I am concerned that I might address one incorrectly (it has been a long time since the last time I mis-addressed something, so I am probably overdue). I try to be general in what I say in my emails so that if one does get misaddressed, the (unintended) reader won't really know what I am talking about.

Anyway, it has been a long time since Craig _________ told me not to call him a jerk. And, he wasn't a jerk. But, I'm not sure he was the world's most thorough reader.

Criag ___________ is the reason that I have incorporated the "THIS MEANS YOU!!" in my warning.

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Editor's Note (by Bob Smith): "THIS MEANS YOU!!" is a rip off of the warning "HEY! THAT MEANS YOU!" which precedes "Turn this board over and read the label before using...like right now! which appears on the top surface of Duhl's Bongo Board. The full Bongo Board warning reads as follows:

"Ice is slippery. Life is risky. Bones break. In life, as with this product, accept only the level of risk that you can competently handle. To minimize the chance of injury, wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear at all times when using this device and give yourself plenty of space to maneuver. Also, read the provided instruction sheet prior to using. Lastly, remember that the best protection from injury is a little common sense."

In addition to using common sense, it is helpful to read things thoroughly and to carefully consider what FAX number and Email address you really want your stuff to go to.

Or, at least, wear a helmet.

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