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New Threat to Plaintiffs' Discovery Rights?

NCJ Number
Trial Volume: 33 Issue: 9 Dated: (September 1997) Pages: 36-41
E J Imwinkelried
Date Published
6 pages
This article discusses the scope of the attorney-client privilege.
Roughly 97 percent of all civil cases are resolved without ever reaching trial and the settlement terms depend largely on developments during pre-trial discovery. In 1996, the US Supreme Court in Jaffee v. Redmond fashioned a Federal psychotherapist privilege extending to social workers, and decreed the privilege absolute in character but subject to unspecified exceptions. The question is whether Jaffee signals a fundamental change in the Federal courts' receptivity to privilege claims. This article maintains that it would be a mistake to overstate the importance of Jaffee. Nothing in the majority opinion suggests that the Court is on the brink of abandoning its traditional stance that the search for truth generally overrides privilege claims. Most lower courts interpret Jaffee as leaving intact the Federal bias against evidentiary privileges. At least for the moment, the plaintiff's right to probing discovery is safe from a new onslaught of privilege claims. Notes


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