Authorization from a client should be secured in habeas corpus cases. You can learn more about authorization and habeas corpus on this page.
Habeas counsel, whether retained or court appointed, should secure from the client authorization. They should obtain a signed authorization to obtain copies of the files of the attorneys who previously represented the client in the matter. This should happen without delay. Absent a signed authorization, the attorney has no legal obligation to turn over the file, or portions of it, to habeas counsel. The attorney can invoke the rules of professional conduct, specifically, Rule 1.6(a)(“lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent”), and Rule 1.9(c)(“lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter…shall not…reveal information relating to the representation except as these rules would permit or require”).
In this regard, it is important to note the rule of confidentiality enunciated in Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of Information and Rule 1.9 Duties to Former Clients of the rules of professional conduct is broader than the attorney-client privilege which operates principally in the courtroom. The confidentiality rule, “applies in situations other than those where evidence is sought from the lawyer through compulsion of law. The confidentiality [r]ule…applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source.” Rule 1.6, Official Commentary. Accordingly, no copy of the client’s file can get obtained from prior counsel unless an authorization satisfying Rule 1.6(a)’s informed consent provision is provided to prior counsel.
Once received, the signed authorization should go to prior counsel without delay. Disputes as to copy costs and shipping should be privately and equitably resolved. The Office of Chief Public Defender (OCPD) has occasionally offered to pay the copy costs in a court appointed case where the file is voluminous and the cost of reproducing it would be too burdensome to prior counsel or to habeas counsel. If this circumstance arises, OCPD should get contacted before any in-house or outsourced copying occurs.
Are you interested in the Connecticut habeas corpus process? Are you looking for more information? You can check out the other pages in this section of our website. If you have specific questions, it is a good idea to contact an attorney to learn more.