Intern for Death Penalty Group Sued for Violating Attorney-Client Privilege

 

September 1, 2011; Source: National Law Journal | A nonprofit legal organization that represents defendants in death-penalty cases is suing a former intern to try to prevent her from publishing a book she has written about a former client. The group, the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, asserts that Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, a student at Harvard Law School who interned at the Center in 2003, “knowingly, intentionally, and in bad faith breached her fiduciary duty by divulging confidential and privileged information and other information from her representation of [the center’s] clients which is prejudicial and harmful to [the center’s] clients for her own personal profit and gain.”

In 2010, Marzano-Lesnevich published in the Bellingham Review one essay based on her work at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center that she labeled “creative fiction.” The Review has since taken the essay down at the request of the Center. In the essay she wrote, “I knew most of our clients were guilty. . . . It was part of why I had chosen to spend my summer working at the firm.” That essay and her forthcoming book both refer to the case of Ricky Langley, convicted of a 1992 killing. In its complaint the center argued, “Marzano-Lesnevich has caused and continues to cause irreparable harm to [the center] and its clients. Specifically, her unauthorized disclosure of confidential and privileged information and other information from her representation of [the center’s] clients has and will negatively impact the inability of [the center] to defend its clients and the ability of its clients to obtain due process in connection with their criminal cases.” For her part, Marzano-Lesnevich no longer appears to be pursuing a legal career.—Ruth McCambridge