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Ohio Supreme Court to Test Attorney-Client Privilege


— October 22, 2003

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on whether a former public defender must reveal if a now-dead client knew anything about the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl.

Lower courts have ordered attorney Beth Lewis to disclose whether her client had information about Erica Baker, who vanished in 1999 while walking her dog near her home in a Dayton suburb. No one has been charged in her disappearance.

Lewis has repeatedly refused to provide any information and appealed to the Supreme Court.

Investigators think Lewis’ client Jan Franks may have known something about Baker’s disappearance based on information from a jail informant, and they want to know if Franks told anything to her attorney. Franks died of a drug overdose in 2001.

Prosecutor Carley Ingram said Ohio law allows a surviving spouse or trustee of an estate to give up confidentiality rights, which Franks’ husband agreed to do.

But Lewis’ attorney, John Feldmeier, said the law allows lawyers to exercise professional judgment to maintain confidentiality if consistent with a client’s wishes.

The AP has the whole story here via Findlaw.com.


The state Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on whether a former public defender must reveal if a now-dead client knew anything about the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl.

Lower courts have ordered attorney Beth Lewis to disclose whether her client had information about Erica Baker, who vanished in 1999 while walking her dog near her home in a Dayton suburb. No one has been charged in her disappearance.

Lewis has repeatedly refused to provide any information and appealed to the Supreme Court.

Investigators think Lewis’ client Jan Franks may have known something about Baker’s disappearance based on information from a jail informant, and they want to know if Franks told anything to her attorney. Franks died of a drug overdose in 2001.

Prosecutor Carley Ingram said Ohio law allows a surviving spouse or trustee of an estate to give up confidentiality rights, which Franks’ husband agreed to do.

But Lewis’ attorney, John Feldmeier, said the law allows lawyers to exercise professional judgment to maintain confidentiality if consistent with a client’s wishes.

The AP has the whole story here via Findlaw.com.

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