In an article published yesterday on Northwestern University’s law review website, Colin Miller argues that lawyers should be permitted to break the attorney-client privilege in order to prevent a wrongful conviction. In most states, lawyers can only break their confidentiality to prevent “reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm.” Two recent cases illustrated this dilemma, which has bound attorneys to keep secrets that they know are preventing an innocent person from being freed. Alton Logan was released in Chicago in April after serving 26 years for a murder he didn’t commit. The actual killer confessed to his attorneys before Logan was convicted, but the lawyers didn’t share this information until after their client died.
Miller, an assistant professor at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, argues that wrongful incarceration should be construed as bodily harm, allowing lawyers to speak up when they have evidence to overturn a wrongful conviction.