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Dismissal of Prosecution is only remedy for Taking of Attorney-Client Materials by State

The Court of Appeals for the State of Washington, Division III, has affirmed the dismissal of a child molestation prosecution after detectives unlawfully took attorney-client privileged materials during a search.

James Perrow was charged with child molestation after detectives seized some writings from Perrow’s home that Perrow had prepared for his attorney at his attorney’s request. The writings were very exculpatory. The trial court dismissed the charges against Perrow after finding that detectives had unlawfully intruded into the defendant’s attorney-client relationship. The state appealed.

On appeal, the State argued that only the attorney-client privileged material should have been excluded and that the case should not have been dismissed entirely. The court of appeals disagreed. “[D]ismissal is the sole adequate remedy when … the State intercepts privileged communications between an attorney and client” the court wrote. “It is not possible to isolate the prejudice resulting from the intrusion.”

See: State v. Perrow, 231 P. 3d 853, (Ct. of Appeals Washington – Div III).

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Related legal case

State v. Perrow