Wednesday, November 02, 2005

continuances - exercise/abuse of discretion

Gillespie v. Penn DOT - Commonwealth Court - November 2, 2005

Held, the trial court erred by refusing to exercise its discretion to consider a request for a continuance based solely on a standing policy that all parties must agree to a continuance.

"Blind adherence" to an establishing policy is the opposite of the required exercise of discretion, which is an informed decision between multiple courses of action. Instead, the court "essentially delegated its decision-making function to the attorneys....We can think of no clearer example of an abuse of discretion than abdication of the judge's role to an interested party. The trial court's continuance manifestly unreasonable." It was an abuse of discretionto blindly apply the policy and refuse to consider the merits of the moving party's request.

Donald Marritz
MidPenn Legal Services

attorney-client privilege - former client

In re Investigating Grand Jury -- Pa. Superior Court - November 1, 2005

In a case said to be of first impression, a criminal defendant's conversation with his former counsel was held to be privileged, even after the representation had ended. The conversation related to the attorney's former representation (about which the defendant was complaining) and was about the case. The court felt that it was likely that the former client "believe[d] that because of their prior relationship, confidentiality remained between them," even though the "conversation did not involved a client seeking legal advice from his lawyer."

Donald Marritz, staff attorney
MidPenn Legal Services